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Preparing for allergy season

Woman blowing her nose while gardening

Strategies to enjoy spring and summer if you have seasonal allergies.

April showers might bring May flowers. But both can bring misery for the 81 million Americans with seasonal allergies.

Mold spores and pollen from trees, grass and other plants can cause a runny nose, watery eyes, nasal congestion, coughing and more.

If you’re affected by allergens in the air, there are a couple of strategies and various tactics to try.

Block what bothers you. 

As much as you can, remove allergens or limit your exposure to them. 

  • Keep windows and doors closed. 
  • Leave shoes, jackets and hats by the door.
  • Dust and vacuum with a HEPA filter weekly — even daily. If those chores trigger your symptoms, ask for help or consider hiring a service during allergy season.
  • Shower after being outside — especially before you go to bed. 
  • Change bedding weekly.
  • Use an air purifier. Change or clean the filter every month.
  • Wear a mask when the pollen count is especially high.
  • Keep car windows up. Don’t use the vent to let in outside air.
  • Avoid walking through or near tall grass.

Read more on avoiding outdoor triggers and managing indoor triggers.

Make yourself comfortable. 

When you can’t avoid your allergens, do what you can to ease your symptoms.

If you have a grass pollen allergy, consider starting medications such as anti-inflammatory nasal spray and antihistamine when pollen is due to peak.

Ask your healthcare provider:

Treatments to consider include:

  • Antihistamines. These are helpful for mild symptoms but often are not enough for those with moderate or severe allergy symptoms.
  • Anti-inflammatory nasal sprays such as fluticasone and triamcinolone. These are very effective when used daily and started one to two weeks before allergy season. They reduce the buildup of allergy cells in the mucous membrane that cause allergy symptoms.
  • Eye drops such as those containing ketotifen or olopatadine. These are helpful for allergies affecting the eyes and most can be purchased over the counter.

Other measures that may help:

  • Use saline nasal rinses to cleanse your nasal passages.
  • Use sterile eye products to flush the eyes and remove pollens and histamine.
  • Exercise early in the morning when pollen counts are low, or workout indoors.
  • Use breathing strips.
  • Apply a compress — either warm or cool — to alleviate pressure behind your eyes and nose.

Everyone is different. It may take a bit to figure out what will work for you. Your primary care doctor can help you explore your options.