Seasonal Allergies: 4 Routes to Relief
Whether your fall allergy symptoms are mild or miserable, here's help.
2. Learn Do-It-Yourself Measures
It may sound obvious, but avoiding the allergens is the No.1 measure suggested by allergy experts. There are many steps you can take to eliminate or minimize your exposure to allergens and improve seasonal allergy symptoms. Among the often-cited measures:
- Wear a protective mask when gardening or doing yard work.
- Modify the indoor environment to keep out allergens, says Clifford W. Bassett, MD, vice chairman of the Public Education Committee of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. For instance, use HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters in air conditioners to better trap pollen spores. "Change air condition filters often," he says.
- Check pollen counts before you travel. "If you are traveling with allergies, consider vacations near the ocean or bays," Bassett says. "Pollen counts there are typically lower." To find pollen counts, contact the National Allergy Bureau (www.aaaai.org/nab), which offers reports to the public. Or check your local weather report; some provide pollen and mold spore counts.
- Protect your eyes. On vacation and at home, wear sunglasses when outdoors to reduce the amount of pollen coming into the eyes, Bassett suggests.
- "Wash your hair at the end of the day to wash out pollens," Bassett suggests. That will help avoid pollen transfer to the pillowcase.
- Exercise in the morning or late in the day, Bassett says, when pollen counts are typically lower than at other hours. Know that pollen counts typically are higher on a hot, windy, sunny day compared with a cool day without much wind.
- Check the dog. "Pets can bring in pollen," says Pamela Georgeson, DO, member of the AAAAI Public Education committee and an allergist in Chesterfield Township, Mich. You might consider rinsing off the dog if he was outside on a high-pollen day, she says.
3. Get Proper Treatment
An allergist or your primary care doctor can recommend a variety of medications, some over-the-counter and some needing a prescription, to improve your seasonal allergies. Many are approved for use in children. A home remedy, nasal lavage, may help, too.
Topical nasal sprays, available by prescription, work well, says Georgeson. "They actually reduce the inflammation in the lining of the nose," she says. Examples are Flonase and Nasonex. They contain medications called corticosteroids, which work by reducing inflammation and are "minimally if at all absorbed," she says. The sprays are typically used daily, before and during allergy season.