While allergy triggers vary with each person, there are common culprits that send many of us reaching for those Kleenexes — pollen, dust mites, and mold being the top offenders. There are many old wives' tales on how to keep allergies at — a teaspoon of local honey a day, anyone? — and while many are false, there are some that hold true. Here, we break down some of the best ways for you to deal with your allergies and keep those symptoms from ruining your day.
Undoubtedly, over-the-counter (OTC) drugs are the most common remedy for allergies. Due to popularization, a variety of prescription allergy medications are now accessible sans a prescription.
If your allergy attack consists of a combination of symptoms like runny nose, sneezing, and watery eyes, your best bet is to reach for medicine that can address all your symptoms. Non-Drowsy Claritin, Zyrtec, and Benadryl are your best bets for relieving multi-symptom attacks. Keep in mind that many of these medications may have side effects that can affect your daily routine, like drowsiness.
However, if you're experiencing just one or two symptoms, it's best to use more targeted methods of relief like Visine-A and Afrin, which tame itchy eyes and congestion respectively. In fact, these options have been shown to relieve your symptoms faster than the aforementioned oral medications because they don't need to travel through your bloodstream.
If you prefer a more natural method to battle your allergies, there are some at-home remedies you can try. Many allergy sufferers know that hot liquids help relieve clogged up nasal passages and loosen mucous membranes. However, it's less well known that peppermint tea is the most effective hot liquid. Peppermint oil contains anti-inflammatory and mild antibacterial properties that act as a decongestant.
Another genius item to have on hand: Neti pots. They may look odd, but these tiny teapot-esque contraptions come in very handy during an impromptu phlegm attack. How does it working? Using a mixture of warm water and salt, tilt your head to the side and let the salty solution pour into one nostril until it flows out the other. This helps rinse our your nasal cavity from any mucous that may have formed inside. Definitely odd feeling, but many people absolutely swear by them.
For those who simply can't shake their allergy attacks with OTC options, consider consulting your doctor for immunotherapy, a.k.a. allergy shots.. Allergy shots consist of a series of sessions in which an allergist injects small doses of allergens under your skin. This will allow your immune system to get used to substances you are allergic to and will result in fewer and less severe reactions.
This route is the most aggressive and time-consuming, and requires a serious commitment in order to see the end result. After a properly administered allergy test, you must commit to weekly shots for about 4-6 months. This is called the maintenance dose. If your symptoms improve, your doctor may increase the dose to better improve your defense against allergens. Allergy shot treatment can last as long as a couple of years, but can prevent allergic rhinitis from developing into something more severe, like asthma.
It should come to no surprise that the best way to deal with an allergy attack is to keep it from happening. While it's impossible to hide away forever, there are ways to minimize the effect of those triggers.
Pollen is probably the most common allergen that many can't stand. This may seem like a no-brainer, but shut those windows! Keeping outside air out and inside air in helps prevent those little yellow particles from sneaking inside. Pollen peak time is between late morning and early afternoon, so try to stay indoors during this time.
Keeping clean should also be bumped up on your to-do list. It's important to amp up your hygiene routine during allergy season — pollen and dust mites cling to our body and hair – and even beauty products like mousse and body lotion! So, be sure to hit the showers if you've spent time outdoors.
Lastly, limit the fabrics around your house. Carpets, throw pillows, sheets – basically anything made from cloth – are all magnets to particles that can trigger allergies, so it's best to get rid of these items. Of course, we understand there's some items you can't just toss, like bed sheets and couch fabrics. For those, keep them clean by washing them in hot water or vacuuming the surface. Keep in mind that there is no current cure for allergies, but with a heightened awareness and due diligence, you can minimize those sniffles, coughs, and tears.