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5 Ways to Beat Spring Allergies

One of the nation's top allergy experts explains how to control and treat spring allergies this year.

Control Allergies by Controlling Your Environment

You don't want to have to stay indoors on a beautiful day just because you have allergies. But if you're going to be working outside, consider wearing a protective allergy face mask for tasks like mowing the grass, raking leaves, or washing the car. Depending on how severe your allergies are, you can buy a simple disposable paper mask or a more long-lasting "respirator mask" with a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter.

Remember Sublett's advice about starting allergy medications early in the season so your allergic response doesn't get out of control? That applies to your daily life as well. If you're working outside in the afternoon, take your allergy medication at lunch so it will have a chance to get into your system before the pollen does.

"Keep an eye on the pollen counts, and try to plan more of your outdoor work for days when pollen counts are expected to be low and it's not so windy," says Sublett. If you have a smartphone, download an app that gives you regular pollen updates.

What about inside? "There's a myth that if you keep your windows shut, you'll be OK," Sublett says. "But homes have to have ventilation, and about one-third of what's outside gets inside no matter what you do."

To minimize the allergens circulating throughout your house, get a high-efficiency furnace filter (MERV level 11 or 12 is what you're looking for), and be sure to change it every spring and again in early summer -- for example, in March and June. You can also cut down on circulating allergens by using a HEPA filter on your vacuum and getting a HEPA air filter.

And when you're in the car, keep the windows shut and set your ventilation to recirculate. "Studies show that recirculating air through the car's cabin filter can help with allergies," Sublett says.

One "don't" for coping with allergies indoors: vaporizers and humidifiers. "The droplets are so big that they don't get into your nose, and increasing the humidity in your home can lead to problems with mold and dust mites," says Sublett.

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