If you are one of the estimated 35 million American adults that suffer from seasonal allergies, you have an array of pharmaceutical and over-the-counter drugs to choose from. But if you’d rather use drugs as a last, rather than first line of defense, there are other measures you can take that may reduce or eliminate the need to take drugs. This is great news for those who get a bad case of cotton mouth or bubble head from decongestants and antihistamines. Here are a few drug-free strategies to try:
Get an allergy test
Knowing what you are allergic to is half the battle in formulating the best strategy to reduce symptoms. For example, if you find you are allergic to mulberry trees and there’s one in your back yard, you might consider removing the tree.
Reduce exposure to pollen (or whatever allergen affects you)
Check pollen and mold counts daily and try to plan your outdoor activities for days when they are low. Pollen counts are also usually lower after a good rain. However if mold is making you miserable, spring rains can increase mold counts, so plan accordingly. [more]
Filter the air
Use an “allergy” filter in your air-conditioning system and vacuum cleaner to help remove allergens from inside your home. You can also use a pollen mask over your mouth if are mowing the grass or gardening.
De-contaminate yourself—and your pets!
If you must go outdoors for a time, use a nasal irrigation system such as a neti pot to flush the allergens out of your nasal passages that are triggering your symptoms. Some studies report that sinus irrigation can work as well as antihistamines in reducing symptoms. To relieve itchy, watery eyes, try a saline eye wash in the morning and bedtime. Also, showering after a day outdoors can help wash away pollen and other allergens from your hair. A warm to hot shower can also help decongest your sinuses and reduce sinus pressure.
Your pets can also carry outdoor allergens inside your home, so you may want to increase the frequency of their baths during peak allergy seasons.
A hot cup of tea or soup can help relieve sinus congestion.
If all else fails, there’s always Plan D (Drugs). Before resorting to any over- the-counter medications, it’s always best to consult with your doctor or pharmacist first, especially if you have a medical condition or are taking other medications.
For more tips on beating allergies naturally, read Allergy Proof Your Home: 25 Tips to Help You Breathe Easier.