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.

Some simple things can help you do 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. Plants release pollen between 5 and 10 a.m., but it travels best on midday 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 exercise outside, 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 they 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. They work best when you take them throughout allergy season.

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Decongestants shrink blood vessels in your nose, which helps lessen or end congestion. They’re meant for short-term use. Using decongestant nose sprays for more than 3 days can make your symptoms worse.

Steroid nose sprays lessen swelling and mucus. The spray helps block things you breathe from irritating the inside of your nose. Nasal steroids can also treat polyps that often cause a blockage and lead to congestion and sinus infections.

Allergy eye drops usually contain decongestants, antihistamines, or drugs that ease irritation. Depending on the active drug in the eye drops, they work by lowering inflammation or stopping histamine release. The result: less itchiness, tearing, or swelling.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD on February 01, 2017

Sources

SOURCES:

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology's Allergy & Asthma Medication Guide: "Nasal Sprays."

American Academy of Family Physicians: "Allergies: Things You Can Do to Control Your Symptoms."

Medscape: "What are the considerations for a newly diagnosed allergic rhinitis patient?"

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