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It’s that time of the year: while some of us blissfully suck in the spring air with open arms, others are sneezing in between gasps for breath. If allergies weigh you down this season, try these tips to help ease them.
Shut out breezes
It’s a gorgeous day. But if the pollen count is high, keep the windows and doors closed to protect your indoor air. You can also install a HEPA filter on your air-conditioning system and a flat or panel filter on your furnace.
Consider alternative treatments
Butterbur is one of the most promising and well-researched. Some studies suggest that a butterbur extract called Ze 339 may work as well as antihistamine medicines. Other studies show that plant-based Phleum pratense and pycnogenol may be helpful, too.
Each time you walk into your home, you bring small pieces of the outside world with you. After being outdoors, your clothes, shoes, hair and skin are covered with tiny particles from everywhere you’ve been. Take a shower and change your clothes to wash away any allergens. Leave your shoes at the door, too.
Wear a mask
It’ll keep allergens from getting into your airways when you can’t avoid certain allergy triggers, like when you work in your yard or vacuum. An N95 respirator mask, available at most drugstores and medical supply stores, will block 95% of small particles, such as pollen and other allergens.
In one study, children who ate lots of fresh vegetables, fruits, and nuts—particularly grapes, apples, oranges and tomatoes—had fewer allergy symptoms. Researchers are still trying to figure out the link. But there’s no doubt that a healthy diet is good for your whole body. Add at least one fresh fruit and veggie to every meal.
Rinse it out
A nasal rinse cleans mucus from your nose and can ease allergy symptoms there. It also can whisk away bacteria, thin mucus and cut down on postnasal drip. Buy a rinse kit or make one using a neti pot or a nasal bulb. Mix three teaspoons of iodide-free salt with one teaspoon of baking soda. Store this in an airtight container. To use, put one teaspoon of the mixture into eight ounces of distilled or boiled then cooled water. Lean over a sink and gently flush one nostril at a time.
If you feel stuffy or have postnasal drip from your allergies, sip more water, juice, or other nonalcoholic drinks. The extra liquid can thin the mucus in your nasal passages and give you some relief. Warm fluids like teas, broth, or soup have an added benefit: steam.
Keeping your home clean is one of the best ways to avoid indoor allergens, but harsh chemicals can irritate your nasal passages and aggravate your symptoms. Create natural cleaners with everyday ingredients like vinegar or baking soda. Use a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter to trap allergens. If you have severe allergies, ask someone else to tidy up.
Inhale some steam. This simple trick can ease a stuffy nose and help you breathe easier. Hold your head over a warm (but not too hot) bowl or sink full of water, and place a towel over your head to trap the steam. Or sit in the bathroom with a hot shower running.
Avoid cigarette smoke
It can worsen your runny, itchy, stuffy nose and watery eyes. Choose smoke-free restaurants, nightclubs and hotel rooms. Avoid other fumes that can make your symptoms worse, too, like aerosol sprays and smoke from wood-burning fireplaces.
This ancient practice may bring some relief. The way acupuncture affects nasal allergies is still unclear, but a few studies show that it may help. Ask your doctor if it would be good to try.