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If you suffer from hay fever, as 36 million Americans do, springtime spells sneezing for you. The biggest offender is pollen from grasses, flowers, and trees, which is in the air from early spring to late summer. Take the right steps before allergy season is in full swing, and you'll keep the stuffy nose and itchy eyes at bay.
Take allergy medications early. Start before the onset of symptoms, says Russell Leftwich, MD, a spokesperson for the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. He suggests starting your regimen, whether prescription or not, in early April.
Limit the time you spend outdoors before noon to cut down on your exposure to pollen spores, which are more dense in the early hours, says Dr. Leftwich. Rather than opening your windows from April to July, use an air conditioner to cool rooms. This should also help keep the pollen count down in your home during the high season.
Rule out other possible reasons for your symptoms. Many people experience allergy-like symptoms when the weather changes, but discover they aren't actually allergic to anything.
Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal magazine, April 2004.