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Expert Advice on Handling Your Nasal Allergies

By Tony Rehagen
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Luqman Seidu, MD

Nasal allergies can have symptoms that are like a cold -- watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing, and congestion -- that just won’t go away. If your reaction to pollen, mold, dust, or pet hair is severe enough, it can put quite a hamper on your day-to-day life.

But there are things you can do to stifle your sniffles, cut down on the tissues, and get back to living. Start with these ideas from allergist James L. Sublett, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.

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1. Get Your House in Order

Your home should be your fortress, a ship on the angry sea of nasal allergies. If you are allergic to pollen, keep the outdoors out.

Shut the windows “and crank the air conditioning,” Sublett says, no matter how nice the weather. He adds that it might also be a good idea to install a filtration system in the furnace and A/C to screen out allergens.

Next, if you have the budget for a big change, Sublett recommends that you get rid of as much upholstery and carpet as possible and replace them with hardwoods and smooth surfaces where a wet rag or mop can easily pick up dust or pet hair.

Mold can form inside your home, too. Keep bathrooms clean and dry. Be quick to repair and seal leaking pipes or roofs. Damp basements may require a dehumidifier, but be sure to empty them regularly.

Take special care in allergy-proofing the bedroom, where you end and start every day. Avoid down-filled pillows or comforters, a favorite of dust mites. Use zippered, hypoallergenic covers for pillows and mattresses.

2. Keep Fido at Bay

It’s a plot made for tragedy: Woman loves man. Woman is allergic to man’s dog. Sublett says this drama doesn’t have to end in heartbreak -- or sinus headache.

First, make sure you are actually allergic to your boyfriend’s other best friend. “I see it in patients fairly frequently,” Sublett says. “They come in and tell me, ‘It must be my dog.’ It may not be.” It could be another allergen or even another animal. “You can pick up animal allergens from different places, other houses, people’s clothes.”

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