How To Reduce Your Seasonal Allergy Symptoms
By: Holly L. Thacker, MD • Posted on April 16, 2019 • Updated May 04, 2020
With the season change, seasonal allergies can cause itching, sneezing, tearing and runny or congested nose. Allergy medicines help treat your allergy symptoms once you have them, but there are several steps you can take to prevent or reduce symptoms before they occur.
The following recommendations can help you avoid allergy attacks and help with what to do if you already have symptoms. You can also check out the National Allergy Bureau app that will give you the pollen and spore count for regions across the United States.
Tips for Controlling Allergy Symptoms
18 tips for reducing allergies in your home
- Close windows: Keep windows closed and use air conditioning if you are allergic to pollen. Don't use fans, as they can stir up dust.
- Filter the air: Cover air conditioning vents with cheesecloth to filter pollen and use a high efficiency particulate air filter (HEPA) if you have a forced air furnace. Clean air filters frequently and air ducts at least once a year.
- Keep the humidity in your house below 50 percent to prevent mold growth. Avoid areas where molds may collect, including basements, garages, crawl spaces, barns, compost heaps - and clean these areas often.
- Install humidifiers: Install dehumidifiers in basements and other areas of the house where mold may collect and clean these devices every week. Air out damp clothes and shoes (in the house) before storing.
- If you have pets: Consider keeping them outside, or perhaps ask someone else to take care of them. Animal dander and saliva are common allergens for many people. Otherwise, do not allow pets in the bedroom and be sure to bathe pets often. Do not allow pets to sit on the furniture. Close air ducts in the bedrooms.
- Remove laundry from the washing machine promptly. Don't leave wet clothes in the washer.
- Wash shower curtains and bathroom tiles with mold-killing solutions.
- Minimize indoor plants: Don't collect too many indoor plants, as the soil encourages mold growth.
- Store firewood outside.
- Use plastic covers for pillows, mattresses and box springs. Avoid overstuffed furniture and down-filled bedding or pillows. Remove stuffed animals from the bed.
- Wash bedding: Wash your bedding every week in hot water, hotter than 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Don't allow smoking in your house.
- Protect face and hands: Wear a mask and gloves when cleaning, vacuuming or painting to limit dust and chemical exposure.
- Vacuum twice a week.
- Limit throw rugs to reduce dust and mold. If you do have rugs, make sure they are washable.
- When possible, choose hardwood floors instead of carpeting. If you must have carpeting, choose low pile material.
- Avoid Venetian blinds or long drapes, as they collect dust. Replace old drapes and use window shades instead.
- Use an exhaust fan: Make sure there is an exhaust fan over the stove to remove cooking fumes.
10 tips for reducing allergies while outdoors
- Minimize walks in wooded areas or gardens.
- Stay indoors when pollen is high: Check the forecast and stay indoors as much as possible on hot, dry, windy days when pollen counts are generally the highest.
- Avoid extreme temperature changes: They are triggers for some people with asthma.
- If possible, stay indoors between 5am and 10am: Outdoor pollen counts are usually the highest during these times.
- Wear a mask when mowing the lawn: Wearing an expensive painter's mask when mowing the lawn can help if you are allergic to grass pollen or mold. If possible, avoid mowing and being around freshly cut grass.
- Wear a mask when gardening: Wear a mask when gardening, as flowers and some weeds release pollen and can cause allergy symptoms.
- Avoid raking the leaves: Avoid raking the leaves or working with hay or mulch if you are allergic to mold.
- Shower at the end of the day: After being outdoors, take a shower, wash your hair and change your clothes to remove pollen that may have collected in your clothes and hair.
- Protect yourself from insect stings: Wear shoes and long pants and sleeves, and do not wear scented deodorants, perfumes, shampoos, or hair products in order to protect yourself from insect stings.
- Dry clothes in a dryer: Don't hang clothes or linens out to dry, as pollen and molds may collect in them and can make your allergies worse.
3 tips for reducing allergies in hotels
- Non-smoking: Ask for a non-smoking room.
- No feather pillows: Remove feather pillows and ask for synthetic, non-allergenic pillows, or bring your own pillow or plastic pillow cover from home.
- Close air conditioner vent: If possible, keep the vent on the room air conditioner shut.
Allergy Treatments and Medications
Nasal Cleaning or Nasal Irrigation
- Before turning to medications, make sure you try nasal cleaning or nasal irrigation, that is rinsing out the nose with saline (salt water). There are devices like a Neti Pot that can help rinse away the allergens in your nostrils.
- There are several over-the-counter (OTC), non-sedating, anti-histamines that can help manage sneezing and itchy eyes, but are not as effective with nasal congestions. These medicines such as loratadine (Claritin), certirizine (Zyrtec) and fexofenadine (Allegra) are available OTC. Be sure to check with your physician if you have chronic medical problems before self-treating.
- Intranasal steroids triamcinolone (Nasocort) and fluticasone (Flonase) are available without a prescription and are very effective, especially for nasal symptoms and especially if started before the onset of the allergic exposure.
Anti-Allergy Eye Medications
- There are prescription anti-allergy eye drops, allergy injections for desensitization.
And if your symptoms persist you will want to see an Allergist and/or an ENT specialist.
Be Strong. Be Healthy. Be in Charge!
-Holly L. Thacker, M.D.
Holly L. Thacker, MD, FACP is nationally known for her leadership in women’s health. She is the founder of the Cleveland Clinic Women’s Health Fellowship and is currently the Professor and Director of the Center for Specialized Women’s Health at Cleveland Clinic and Lerner College of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University. Her special interests are menopause and related medical problems including osteoporosis, hormone therapy, breast cancer risk assessment, menstrual disorders, female sexual dysfunction and interdisciplinary women’s health. Dr. Thacker is the Executive Director of Speaking of Women’s Health and the author of The Cleveland Clinic Guide to Menopause.