Got Allergies? Solutions for Seasonal Sniffles

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Consider Shots
If standard medication isn't doing the trick -- or if you'd rather not take drugs every day -- ask your doctor about immunotherapy injections. Allergy shots are the only long-term approach that lessens sensitivity. Medicines can work over the long term, but once you stop taking them the effects wear off.

Traditional immunotherapy is a long process of once- or twice-weekly injections of gradually increasing doses over several months. This is followed by maintenance shots once or twice a month for the next three to five years. With the newer "rush" immunotherapy, however, it takes far less time to reach the optimal dose, sometimes just days, says Dr. Katial. Although you're more likely to have a reaction, most are mild and easy to treat.

Spring Cleaning for Your Nose
Once you get past how weird it feels, nasal irrigation -- rinsing your nose with a saline solution, which helps remove mucus -- is cheap, easy, and a surprisingly effective way for people to reduce allergy-related symptoms. "It keeps the tissue healthier, keeps your nose hydrated, and also washes out any debris or pollen," says Dr. Katial. "After a couple of times, my patients think it's the best thing ever." You can use anything from a $10 Neti Pot to a $100 electric irrigation system. For best results, do it in the morning and before bed.

Pollen Protection
You can't escape pollen entirely, but there are some ways to limit your exposure.

  • Wear glasses or sunglasses to keep pollen out of your eyes.
  • Don't do outdoor activities during peak pollen times (mornings, windy days).
  • Use air-conditioning at home and in the car instead of opening the windows.
  • Shower and change after you work in the yard or exercise outside.
  • Don't hang your laundry outside to dry.
  • Wash your hands after petting animals that've been outdoors (they catch pollen in their fur).

Continued on page 4:  Is It Even an Allergy?


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