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Allergies Health Center

Fall Allergies and Sinusitis

Autumn has arrived, and you can’t stop sneezing and sniffling. You may be suffering from allergic rhinitis or hay fever.
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Ragweed: The Prime Cause of Fall Allergies continued...

If you share your home with a furry friend that ventures outdoors, brushing and bathing it outside will help prevent pollen from being tracked inside.

4. Watch What You Eat

Because they contain proteins similar to the ones in ragweed, certain foods can exacerbate allergy symptoms. Steer clear of banana, melons, and chamomile.

5. Rinse Out Your Nose

Nasal douching -- using a salt-water solution to wash pollen from your nostrils and sinuses -- can be very effective at curbing hay fever symptoms. A quick spritz in each nostril is not enough, experts say.

Use a neti pot or an over-the-counter irrigator, such as those sold under the brand names Ocean and Ayr.

6. Track Pollen Counts

On days when the pollen count is especially high, stay indoors. For reliable pollen (and mold spore) counts in your area, go to http://www.aaaai.org/nab/index.cfm.

If these pollen-avoidance strategies fail to bring relief, medical therapy may be in order. Nonprescription antihistamines, such Claritin and Zyrtec, are generally the first choice for mild to moderate symptoms (no need to pay extra for brand names, as generics cost less and work just as well).

If you’re bothered by congestion as well as sneezing and a runny, itchy nose, adding a decongestant such as Sudafed should help. There are also antihistamine-decongestant combinations available. These products generally include a “D” in the name, as in Tavist D. (If you have high blood pressure, ask your doctor if taking a decongestant is OK. Some cause a potentially dangerous rise in blood pressure.) 

For severe or persistent symptoms, a steroid nasal spray (Flonase, Nasonex, and so on) may be helpful. If you’ve developed a sinus infection, a course of antibiotics might be needed. Another option that works well for some patients is a leukotriene inhibitor, such as Singulair or Accolate. These medications block the release of leukotriene to help reduce inflammation and other symptoms of allergic rhinitis. If symptoms are especially troublesome, you might need immunotherapy (allergy shots). 

Experts say the best approach may be to start treatment early and combine various therapies Whichever prevention strategies and medications you decide upon, don’t wait until the last minute to start using them.

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