wikiHow to Fight Hay Fever

Three Methods:Identify and Avoid Hay Fever TriggersSeeing an Allergist to Determine Hay Fever TriggersTaking Medications to Fight Hay Fever

Hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis, is a type of allergy caused by outdoor or indoor allergens such as dust, mold, pet dander, and pollen. These allergens cause cold-like symptoms such as runny nose, itchy eyes, sneezing, sinus pressure, and nasal congestion. Hay fever is not caused by a virus and is not contagious.[1] Even though there isn't a cure, there are some steps you can follow in order to help control your hay fever and feel better.

Method 1
Identify and Avoid Hay Fever Triggers

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    Monitor the pollen count. Since pollen is one of the main causes of hay fever reactions, you should monitor the pollen count every day, especially in pollen season. You should try to stay indoors when the pollen count is at its peak. To access the pollen count, you can visit multiple online sources to track what the pollen count is every day.[2][3].
    • Most local television weather forecasts also include pollen counts. The reports will usually state if the pollen count is low, moderate, medium, or high. Make sure you avoid going out if the count is said to be high.
    • If you are extremely sensitive and highly allergic to pollen, you may consider staying indoors even if the count is moderate.[4]
    • You can talk to your doctor about your susceptibility to pollen.
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    Wear a pollen mask. If you plan on doing yard work, you should use a pollen mask, such as the NIOSH-rated 95 filter mask. This includes activities such as mowing the lawn, raking leaves, or gardening. These kinds of masks can be purchased online or at the local pharmacy.
    • If a N95 mask is not available, you can use ordinary surgical mask or a handkerchief. These will not filter the air as much as the N95 mask, but will prevent some of the pollen from being inhaled and landing on your nose.[5]
    • If your allergy is severe, consider having someone else mow your lawn.
    • You can also wear glasses or sunglasses to avoid getting the allergens in your eyes. Your regular glasses or sunglasses should be sufficient, but you can also purchase safety glasses in a hardware store or online.
    • When you come in from outside, take a shower and wash your clothes. If this cannot be done right away, wash your face and change your clothes until you can.
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    Rinse your sinuses. An inexpensive method to relieve hay fever symptoms is to rise your nasal passages using a neti pot or saline flush. A saline flush is easier to use since it only requires spraying each nostril with the saline solution. Neti pots, on the other hand, require you to mix your own saline solution.
    • If you choose this method, you can make your own saline solution by mixing 3 teaspoons of iodine free salt and 1 teaspoon of baking soda. Next, add 1 teaspoon of this mixture to 1 cup or 8 ounces of lukewarm distilled or bottled water. Do not use tap water unless it has been boiled.
    • Make sure you rinse the irrigation device after each use with distilled or bottled water and leave it to air-dry. This helps prevent bacterial growth.[6]
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    Limit the allergens in your home. If you want to keep outside allergens out of your home, you should close your windows and turn on the air conditioner in your house and car, especially with pollen counts are high. Make sure the AC units have been cleaned prior to use and purchase HEPA filters specifically designed for the unit you own.
    • Refer to the manufacturer's instructions or the store where you purchased the unit to find out what filter to use.
    • If possible, use vacuums with HEPA filters as well. The HEPA filters traps allergens as the vacuum suctions the air and surrounding dust particles. Refer to the manufacturer's instructions on when to replace them, though they are usually replaced after a couple of uses.[7]
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    Keep the humidity between 30-50 percent. In your home, you should keep the humidity levels between 30-50% to limit your exposure to mold. You should get a hygrometer to measure each room's humidity. You just place the device in a room and it reads the humidity levels in the room much like a thermometer reads temperature.[8]
    • You can purchase this device online or in stores. Read manufacturer’s instruction on how to operate it properly prior to use.
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    Purchase mite-proof covers. To help cut down on allergens in your fabrics and on your furniture, you should buy cover for your pillows, mattresses, comforters, and duvets that are mite-proof. This will help cut down on mite and allergen transference onto the fabrics, which will keep your hay fever at bay.
    • You should wash your bedding and covers frequently in hot water. [9]
    • You may want to reduce the amount of pillows, blankets, or stuffed animals in you or your child's room.
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    Avoid using certain window treatments. There are certain kinds of window treatments that can draw pollen and mold into your house as well as accumulate dust. Heavy draperies and dry clean only materials attract more dust and allergens compared to easy to vacuum or machine washable draperies. You can use synthetic blinds as well because they are easy to wipe and clean.
    • Do not hang clothes outside to dry since allergens would gather on the clothes.[10]
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    Clean bathrooms and the kitchen frequently. Mold is another major trigger for hay fever. To cut down on mold accumulation in your home, you should clean your bathrooms and kitchen frequently so mold or mildew will not grow there. You can use cleaning solutions with bleach because it will kill the mold and other allergens in these areas.
    • You can also make your own bleach solution by mixing 1/2 cup bleach with 1 gallon (3.8 L) of water.[11]
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    Use damp cleaning tools. When you are cleaning your house, you should use tools that are damp in order to capture the most amount of allergens and dust particles in your home. You should dampen your dust cloths, the mop, and the broom whenever you clean your home.
    • This is much more effective to keep dust from spreading compared to dry-dusting and sweeping.[12]
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    Avoid plants and flowers. Since pollen is a hay fever trigger, you should avoid having live plants in your home.[13] Instead, purchase fake flowers or green plants to liven up your living spaces. These will help brighten up your living areas without contributing pollen to the air in your house.
    • Although there are some artificial plants that look fake, you can find some that look real. Try to get plants that look as real as possible so they don't call too much attention to the fact that they are fake.
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    Avoid pet triggers. There are many ways you can avoid pet triggers. If you know that you are allergic to a certain kind of animal, avoid getting one of those animals as a pet. If you are allergic to all pet dander, keep your pets outside instead of inside your house. If this isn't possible, try to keep them our of your bedroom so you don't have to breath the dander in at night. You should also obtain an air purifier with HEPA filter and situate it in the areas where the pet spends most of her time.
    • If you come into contact with a pet, wash your hands afterward to remove the dander.[14]
    • If possible, take out wall-to-wall carpeting because carpet holds in the pet dander. If this is not possible, vacuum often to prevent the accumulation of pet dander or fur. Many vacuum cleaners come with special attachments or filters to reduce pet fur and dander.
    • You should groom and bathe your pets at least weekly to prevent excessive shedding. It is best if you let someone else bathe the animal so you do not react to all the dander and fur.[15]
    • Some dogs or cats are known to be 'hypoallergenic', which means they are less likely to cause allergies. These may be a good choice for you if you really want a pet.

Method 2
Seeing an Allergist to Determine Hay Fever Triggers

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    Get a scratch test. If you have tried to eliminate all of the factors in your life that might contain triggers such as pollen, mold, and dust, but you still have problems, you need to see an allergist. She can run tests to determine the cause of your hay fever. One of the most popular test is a skin test called the scratch, or prick, test. This test lasts for 10 to 20 minutes and involves administering tiny drops of samples of possible allergens on pricked or scratched skin. The nurse will observe the sites for reactions on the skin.
    • Some reactions are immediate. If there is an allergic reaction, the skin where a specific allergen was applied will become raised and will look like a mosquito bite.
    • The nurse will measure and note the reaction and the doctor will interpret the results.[16]
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    Take an intradermal test. Your allergist may also perform a skin test called the intradermal test. Instead of putting the allergen on scratched or pricked skin, the allergens are injected under the skin by your doctor with a thin needle. This test is typically more sensitive than the scratch test.
    • This test lasts for about 20 minutes.[17]
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    Take a blood test. To further solidify the skin test results, your allergist may also run a blood test, called radioallergosorbent test (RAST). The RAST measures the amount of allergy-causing antibodies in your bloodstream, known as immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies. This tells the doctor which allergens your body is reacting to by the breakdown of the antibodies in your blood.
    • The results of this test usually take a few days to come back since the blood sample is sent to a laboratory for processing.[18]

Method 3
Taking Medications to Fight Hay Fever

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    Take nasal corticosteroids. If avoiding triggers is not possible, easing the symptoms is the next best thing to do in order to fight hay fever. You can take nasal corticosteroids. They prevent and treat the nasal inflammation, nasal itching, and runny nose caused by hay fever. These are usually safe long-term treatment options for most people. Side effects can include an unpleasant smell or taste and nose irritation, but the effects are rare.
    • These medications need to be prescribed by your doctor. They usually work best when taken every day, at least during the seasons or times when you are likely to have allergy symptoms.
    • Popular brands include Flonase, Nasacort AQ, Nasonex, and Rhinocort.[19]
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    Use antihistamines. You can also take antihistamines to help with your hay fever symptoms. This medication can come in pill, oral, liquid, chewable, melt away, nasal spray, and eye drop forms. They help with itching, sneezing, and runny nose by blocking histamine, which is a chemical released by your immune system that also cause the signs and symptoms of hay fever. The pills and nasal sprays can relieve nasal symptoms while the eye drops help relieve eye itchiness and eye irritation caused by hay fever.
    • Examples of oral antihistamines include Claritin, Alavert, Zyrtec Allergy, Allegra and Benadryl. You can also get prescription antihistamine nasal sprays such as Astelin, Astepro, and Patanase.[20]
    • Do not consume alcohol and tranquilizers when taking antihistamines.
    • Do not use or combine more than one antihistamine unless they are prescribed to you by your doctor or allergist.
    • Avoid using heavy machinery, and use caution driving when taking antihistamines. Avoid taking sedating antihistamines if you will be driving. Most people can safely drive if they are taking non or low-sedating antihistamines.[21]
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    Consider decongestants. You can get decongestants as over the counter medications such as Sudafed and Drixoral. You can also get them as prescription liquids, pills, or nasal sprays. There are many oral decongestant prescriptions you can get, but be warned they can cause increased blood pressure, insomnia, irritability, and headache.
    • Decongestants should only be used temporarily and not every day.
    • Decongestant nasal sprays include Neo-Synephrine and Afrin. You should not use these for more than two or three days at a time because they can actually worsen your congestion.[22]
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    Ask your allergist about leukotriene modifiers. The leukotriene modifier also known as Singulair is a controller medication and should be taken before any symptoms occur. It may also reduce asthma symptoms. A common side effect is headache, but in rare occasions, it has been linked to psychological reactions, such as agitation, aggression, hallucinations, depression, and suicidal thinking.
    • This medication comes in tablet form.
    • It is important that you seek medical advice right away for any unusual psychological reaction you notice while on this medication.[23]
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    Try Atrovent. Atrovent, also called nasal ipratropium, is a prescription nasal spray that helps relieve a severe runny nose. Some side effects include nasal dryness, nosebleeds, and a sore throat. However, rare side-effects include blurred vision, dizziness, and difficult urination.
    • People with glaucoma and an enlarge prostate should not use this drug.[24]
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    Use oral corticosteroid. This medication, also known as prednisone, is sometimes used to relieve severe allergy symptoms. However, you must be cautious when using this medication since long-term use can cause serious side effects such as cataracts, osteoporosis, and muscle weakness.
    • This drug is only prescribed for a short period of time and may require tapering doses.
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    Get an allergy shot. If your hay fever allergic reactions do not respond to other medications, and you cannot avoid exposure to the allergens, your doctor may recommend allergy shots, also known as immunotherapy. Instead of fighting the allergic reactions, the shots instead change the immune system to stop reacting to the allergens. The shots consist of diluted allergy extract which are administered frequently in increasing doses until a dose is found that helps you maintain your allergies. These are then given with larger time periods in between. The series of shots take place over a period of three to five years.
    • The goal with this medication is for your body to get used to the allergens causing the allergic reactions so you will eventually not react to them anymore.[25]
    • The allergy shots safe with very small side effects. The most common is redness or swelling at the injection site, and can happen right away or within the first few hours. These should go away within 24 hours of the injection. You can also get mild allergic reactions similar to those you normally suffer from because of your hay fever.
    • In rare cases, you can have a severe allergic reaction the first time you get the shot and again with later doses. Patients are always monitored when they get allergy shots. The symptoms of a severe reaction, known as anaphylaxis, include wheezing or difficulty breathing, hives or swelling of the face or body, irregular or rapid heart beat, throat or chest tightness, dizziness, loss of consciousness, and in extremely severe cases, death.
    • If you experience any of these severe reactions, call 911 and seek medical attention immediately.[26]


  • Keep these medications out of the reach of children.
  • Before taking any medications, tell your doctor if your are pregnant or intend to become pregnant, are breast-feeding, have glaucoma or an enlarged prostate, you are ill, you have other medical problems, allergies to medicines, or are taking other medications.
  • Never take anyone else’s medication.
  • If your eyes are itchy and swollen, place a damp, cold tissue or washcloth over each eye. This will help sooth the itch.[27]
  • No matter how itchy your eyes may be, do not scratch as It just makes the itch worse and harder to sooth.
  • Avoid smoking or second-hand smoke if you have allergies.

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Categories: Allergies and Immunization