April showers bring beautiful flowersand allergies. If you dont want to pop antihistamines all season to halt your hay fever, try a saline nasal rinse to get some temporary relief.
Done two or three times a day, rinsing flushes out excess mucus and pollen hanging around in your sinuses. (Its not as gross as it sounds, really.) And the salt solution helps shrink inflamed blood vessels in your nose much like decongestants do, says James Dillard, MD, clinical director of Columbia Universitys Rosenthal Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. If you have a squirt bottle with a narrow tip, he says, you can make your own solution at home. Simply mix 8 ounces of water, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and a sprinkle of baking soda, which thins the mucus. Or you can use a product like Sinus Rinse, which provides a packet of ingredients and a bottle to help you make your own concoction.
Nasal creams can also relieve inflammation and keep allergens out. A recent study found that a petroleum-based ointment applied to the inside of the nose reduced patients allergy symptoms by 60%. That cream, called Alergol, hasnt hit the U.S. market yet, but Dillard says a dab of petroleum jelly on the end of a cotton swab should work as well.