5 Easy Ways to Beat Allergies This Season

April 17, 2013 at 5:10 pm , by

Itchy, watery eyes, sniffles, sore throat. Sound familiar? Yup, it’s allergy season. I thought I somehow escaped it this time around, but I’ve spent the past week sneezing nonstop. And according to my Facebook feed, I’m not alone: “Allergies are really kicking my butt today,” one friend harped.

It doesn’t help that experts are expecting an especially tough spring for allergies this year, thanks to a slew of bad storms and a longer growing season. But there are plenty of things you can do to avoid annoying symptoms. Here are a few easy tips for staying one step ahead this spring.

Take meds as soon as you wake up.
The pollen count is highest in the morning, and symptoms will only get worse if you don’t keep ahead of them. If you can, avoid going on walks or heading outside in the early hours of the day, and don’t forget to take an antihistamine like Claritin, Zyrtec or Allegra as soon as you wake up.

Don’t stop at antihistamines.
Nasal sprays and neti pots can also help once symptoms get started, says Reed Erickson, M.D., the medical director of MedExpress. Prescription steroid sprays like Flonase can help reduce inflammation. Neti pots, which you fill with warm water and saline, can help flush out pollen and congestion, while soothing your sinuses.

Keep your windows closed.
You may feel tempted to let in all that fresh springtime air after a long winter. But don’t: you’ll just be letting allergens in, says Kevin Ronneberg, M.D., the associate medical director of Target. Another thing you can do, especially if you have itchy eyes, is skip your contacts or wear sunglasses when you have to venture outside, he adds.

Know your triggers.
“The best way to treat allergies is to avoid them,” says Dr. Ronneberg. While it may feel like you’re allergic to everything sometimes, it can help to know about your specific triggers so you can track them. If you don’t know what you’re allergic to, make an appointment with your doctor to get tested. The ACAAI is also hosting free allergy screenings across the country in May.

Get the App.
WebMD and Accuweather just released a new iPhone app that allows you to get daily weather forecasts and check allergen levels for pollen, trees and dust. Just input your location and it will give a three-day forecast, along with tips and tons of useful info. I tried it and loved that I could learn when pollen counts were high in my area.

Photo by zirconicusso,

Sinuses Driving You Crazy? Try A Neti Pot

March 24, 2010 at 4:38 pm , by

Neti 1After fighting allergies and chronic sinus problems for years, I decided to try a neti pot. I’d seen Dr. Oz demonstrate it on Oprah, and I knew that people in other cultures have used them for thousands of years. Still, it sounded weird to me—kind of like an auto-induced version of waterboarding. Why pour salty water up your nose when you can take a high-tech pill?


I wasn’t convinced until I interviewed Gary Rachelefsky, M.D., director of the Executive Care Center for Asthma, Allergy and Respiratory Diseases at UCLA last year for a story on allergies. Because it mechanically clears the sinuses by thinning secretions so they can flow out, he said, nasal irrigation can prevent chronic problems, allergies and infection. Simple as that. So as allergy season approached last spring, I decided to try it.

I got a small plastic pot at the drugstore, along with the premeasured Sinus Rinse packets by NeilMed (basically a mixture of salt and baking soda, with no preservatives) and followed the directions.

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