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    Tips for Your Allergy Action Plan

    Allergies can ruin a beautiful day. But life can be easier when you plan ahead for pollen and other allergens.

    You can do some easy things to accomplish just that.

    1. Know your triggers.

    Most people blame pollen for their allergies, but dust mites, pet dander, and mold can also cause them. Once you know what things set off your symptoms, you can avoid them. Ask your doctor about allergy testing, a sure way to help you know what your triggers are.

    2. Check the pollen count.

    These counts are highest on hot, dry, windy days. Check the forecast before making plans. Pollen is released by plants between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m., but it travels best on mid-day breezes. Plan outdoor activities for late afternoon, when pollen counts are lowest. Remember, ragweed releases its pollen in the fall, so counts may be high into September or mid-October, or even later if the weather stays warm.

    3. Allergy-proof your home.

    Keep your windows and doors closed when pollen levels are high. Use an air conditioner to circulate and cool indoor air. And be sure to change the filter every 3 months. You may want to replace your carpet, which might be collecting allergens, with hardwood or vinyl floors.

    4. Clean house.

    Pollen, pet dander, and dust settle throughout your home. Vacuum twice a week -- floors, couches, upholstered chairs -- to remove these allergens. Use a microfiber cloth to dust bookshelves, blinds, and other surfaces that collect dust. Don't hang clothes out to dry -- they'll bring in pollen. Use the dryer instead.

    5. Rinse your hair and clothes.

    Pollen gathers on them. After an outing on high-pollen days, wash your clothes and rinse your hair. If you like to jog or ride a bike, choose allergy-friendly workout clothes. Polyester fabrics attract and hold less pollen than clothes made of cotton or wool.

    6. Treat allergy symptoms with medicine.

    The sooner you take allergy meds, the better it will work to calm your symptoms.

    Antihistamines keep your body from releasing histamine, the chemical that leads to stuffy noses and itchy, watery eyes from allergies. Antihistamines work best when you take them throughout allergy season.

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