From Health magazine
Its like a scene from a low-budget horror flick: the trees are blooming, the grass is growing … and runny-nosed zombies are invading the planet! Seasonal allergies are here, but if youre one of the sniffly multitudes, you may have noticed that the “allergy season” can span most of the year (and that symptoms may flare right before your period).
Heres your best defensefrom least to most invasive, medically speaking. Try the first few and you may not need to hit the pharmacy at all.
The triggers: Seasonal Tree Pollens, Grasses, and Weeds
Your symptoms surfaced as early as February, when trees started blooming. Right now, its grasses that are making you miserable (they will through late summer). Weeds will keep you wheezing through fall.
Police pollen. Click on the The National Allergy Bureaus Web site (Aaaai.org/nab) for a daily ranking of allergens, including seasonal tree pollens, grasses, weeds, and outdoor molds. Stay indoors when levels are high or very high for those that youre sensitive to.
Wear a mask. If you must finish that gardening before the in-laws show up, don a not-so-chic but très useful N95 filter mask ($24.95 for 20), which keeps pollen out of your nose and mouth.
Wash your hair at night. Rinse the pollen out, especially if youre a gel or mousse fan. These products can trap pollen.
Soak up the calm. In one study, seasonal allergy (hay fever) sufferers had a more extreme reaction the day after performing a stressful task, such as giving a speech. “Stress raises levels of the hormone cortisol,” says Clifford Bassett, MD, an allergist at New York University Medical Center, and that often leads to an amped-up allergic response. A few minutes of meditation or a soak in the tub should help.
Keep your nose clean. “Your nose is like a car windshieldpollen sticks to it,” says Neil Kao, MD, an allergist at the Allergic Disease and Asthma Center in Greenville, South Carolina. Try a saline sinus rinse, found at any drugstore. If that doesnt do it, buy the nonprescription herbal nasal spray NasalCrom (cromolyn sodium), which helps prevent allergic reactions in your nose.
Take an antihistamine. There have never been more over-the-counter antihistamine options. You may be able to find relief with 10 milligrams of cetirizine (Zyrtec) once a day. If those dont work, ask your doctor for a prescription antihistamine such as fexofanadine (Allegra, but also available as a generic) or levocetirizine dihydrochloride (Xyzal).
Try the sprays. If nasal washes and antihistamines dont work for you, up the ante with a prescription steroid spray like Flonase, but you can skip decongestants; Dr. Kao says they dont work for allergies and may worsen your congestion after several days of use.
Next page: The trigger: Dust Mites