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Soothe Your Spring Allergies

By Joanna Broder
WebMD Feature

In spring, people rush out of doors. They jog. They stroll. They smell the flowers.

And ...They sneeze. Sometimes a lot.

People with spring allergies know the drill: The itchy, watery eyes, blocked ears, and nasal congestion that can put a crimp in even the sunniest spring day.

“A lot of times you don’t sleep well at night,” says Giselle Mosnaim, MD, professor of allergy and immunology at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. “And if you don’t sleep well at night, you can be tired and irritable the next day.”

Allergic rhinitis affects 10% to 30% of adults and as many as 40% of children. People with hay fever, a type of allergic rhinitis, are specifically sensitive to molds and pollen that spread in the air during the various seasons.

If you are allergic to pollen, don’t despair. Experts say that your allergies are quite treatable. Try the following tips:

1. Live by the Pollen Count

Before trying medications, see if making changes to your environment helps your symptoms. For example, attempt to time your outdoor activities to when the pollen count dips down the lowest. “That varies, dependent on which pollen you’re talking about,” says Andy Nish, MD, an allergist in Gainesville, Ga. So check your local weather report, which often includes a pollen count.

In the spring, trees pollinate throughout the day, so there's no luck there. Pollen from summer grasses is worst in the late afternoon and early evening. During the fall, weed pollen tends to be most present in the late morning or early afternoons, he says. The pollinating season lasts longer in warmer climates. 

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7-Day Menu for Spring Allergy Season

Spring allergies got you down? Research suggests that following the right diet may help ease allergy symptoms in some people. For example, clear soups can help thin mucus and clear nasal passages. Some studies suggest that the probiotic Lactobacillus acidophilus strain L-92, often added to yogurt or milk, may help ease Japanese cedar-pollen allergy. Vitamin C may help minimize many spring allergy symptoms. WebMD turned to two nutritional experts for their advice on foods to help you fight...

Read the 7-Day Menu for Spring Allergy Season article > >

If you can’t avoid outdoor activities during peak pollen times, then try wearing a mask if you’re cutting the lawn or doing garden work, suggests Rohit Katial, MD, program director of allergy and immunology at National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver, Colo. When you come back inside, change your clothes if you are feeling symptomatic.

2. Filter the Air

To keep pollen out of your living space, close the windows in your home and car. Run your air conditioning to filter the air. For people who have an attic fan, don’t run it during the bothersome season, because the fan draws in the pollen-filled outside air.

3. Make Your Pets Toe the Line

Make your pet an indoor pet or an outdoor pet – one or the other. Pets that go in and out all day often track pollen into the house, Nish says.

4. Rinse Out Your Nose

Over-the-counter nasal salt water rinses may also help with allergy symptoms. A nasal rinse “washes out stuff that’s deposited there and opens it up,” Katial says. 

5. Try an Antihistamine

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