What to do when allergies are in season.
Seasonal allergies affect people during the spring, summer and fall when tree, grass and weed pollen takes to the air. The best way to prevent symptoms, such as itching, watery eyes, sneezing, cough, stuffy nose and headache, is to limit contact with pollen.
- Avoid going outdoors during peak pollen hours, 5–10 a.m., if possible.
- Keep house and car windows closed and use the air conditioner to filter out allergens.
- Shower and change clothes when you spend time outside.
Safe Sniffle Relief
When allergies become unbearable, over-the-counter medications can help—if you choose the right medication for your symptoms.
Antihistamines help reduce itching, runny noses and sneezing. If you take antihistamines, be cautious about driving, and avoid alcohol, tranquilizers or sedatives while taking them, as these can make drowsiness worse.
Decongestants temporarily relieve stuffy noses.
Nasal sprays can contain either cromolyn sodium, which prevents the body from responding to allergens, or corticosteroids , which relieve swelling in your sinuses. To avoid dependence, the American Academy of Family Physicians recommends limiting your use of nasal spray decongestants to three days or less.
Finally, always follow directions on the packaging when taking over-the-counter allergy medication, and do not exceed the recommended dosage. If these options do not work for you, ask your provider about prescription medications, shots or other options.
How to Use a Neti Pot
Neti pots are small teapot-shaped devices used to treat decongestion. You fill the neti pot with a warm saline solution and rinse out your clogged nasal passages, helping you breathe more easily.
To use a neti pot, follow these steps:
- Wash and dry your hands, and ensure that the neti pot is clean and dry.
- Fill the neti pot with lukewarm distilled water, boiled water that has cooled or sterile saline solution. Avoid using unfiltered tap water, as this may cause infection.
- Lean over the sink and tilt your head sideways, keeping your chin and forehead level. Breathe through your mouth.
- Insert the spout of the neti pot into your upper nostril. The liquid will drain from your lower nostril.
- Clear your nose, then repeat on the other side.
When you are finished, wash the neti pot with soap and water and allow it to dry fully before using it again.