How to Live With Allergies to Pollen

Three Methods:Avoiding PollenTaking Medications to Help With SymptomsTrying Natural Solutions

Pollen allergies can make life miserable for those who suffer when plants and trees bloom. Runny nose, itchy throat, wheezing, swelling of the eyes, and other symptoms plague seasonal allergy sufferers during the spring, summer, and fall. Allergies are caused by a person's immune system overreacting to the presence of an allergen like pollen. While it's nearly impossible to avoid all pollen, you can learn how to live with allergies to pollen by avoiding it as much as possible and taking medications to alleviate symptoms.

Method 1
Avoiding Pollen

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    Stay inside when pollen counts are high. Check pollen forecasts to find out when there's a high pollen count in your area. When the pollen count is high, it's best for you to avoid outdoor activities as much as possible. Stay inside to try to avoid exposure to pollen.[1]
    • Typically, pollen counts are at their highest for a few hours after both sunrise and sunset. Try to avoid being out for extended periods during these times.
    • Plan outside activities for cloudy, rainy days. It may seem counter-intuitive, since you want to enjoy the nice weather, but pollen counts are often reduced when it's cloudy and rainy. Also, pick days without wind, as wind can spread the pollen around.[2]
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    Use air conditioning. Keeping your windows open in the spring is tempting, especially when the weather is in that perfect temperature range. However, when pollen counts are high, it's best to keep the outdoors outside. Close your windows, and turn on the air conditioning instead, if you're too hot without the windows open.[3]
    • It's also a good idea to keep your windows shut when traveling by car. Turn the air on recirculate to avoid introducing more pollen into the car.
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    Consider a HEPA filter. Even staying inside, you may find that some allergens seep in. A high-energy particulate air filter (HEPA) can help reduce allergens in your home, including pollen. Most of the time, you'll find these as standalone units. The bedroom is an ideal place to have a filter.[4]
    • Also, when vacuuming, make sure your vacuum has a HEPA filter, as well.
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    Delegate tasks if possible. If your allergies are triggered by outdoor pollens, it's best to avoid them. That means delegating tasks like lawn-mowing and weed-pulling when you can. If you live alone, consider hiring someone for these tasks.[5]
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    Use physical barriers as needed. If you must do lawn work or be outside when pollen counts are high, try using physical barriers to help reduce your pollen intake. Sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat can protect your eyes from pollen, though goggles work better if you are having a severe attack. You can also use an allergen mask to keep pollen at bay, which you can find at your local pharmacy.[6]
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    Pick natural fibers. Synthetic fibers tend to attract pollen more than natural fibers, keeping the allergen on your body. Therefore, try choosing natural fibers like cotton, as you'll have less of a chance of attracting pollen. It can also help keep mold at bay, if you're allergic to mold, too.[7]
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    Don't touch your eyes and face in the garden. If you enjoy gardening, you still need to take steps to minimize your exposure to pollen. One way to help yourself is to make sure you don't touch your mouth or face while you're gardening, as that could spread pollen to your face.[8]
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    Take a shower immediately after engaging in outdoor activities. Showering will help remove pollen from your hair and body. Doing so helps keep your allergies in check. Also, wash all clothes you had on while you were outside,[9] and avoid drying clothes outside.[10]
    • Pollen can become trapped on furniture and pillows, extending your exposure to it. Go straight to laundry room and then the shower as you come indoors. Also, don't forget to put your coat away in a separate closet when you get home.[11]
    • Washing your hands often can also help.
    • If you don't take a shower when you come in, try taking one before you go to bed.
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    Wash your sheets. Pollen and other allergens can become trapped in your sheets and bedding. Be sure you wash your bedding at least once a week. Also, use hot, soapy water to help remove the allergens. Doing so can reduce your exposure to allergens at night.[12]
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    Pay attention to certain fruits. If you're allergic to pollen, you may react lightly to certain fruits and vegetables that have similar proteins. You could have any number reactions, from an itchy mouth to stomach problems and hives. When you notice a fruit or vegetable bothers you, you can try eliminating that food from your diet to see if it helps alleviate any of your symptoms.[13]
    • For instance, if you're allergic to grass pollen, you may react to tomatoes, peaches, celery, or melons.
    • If you're allergic to birch pollen, you may find you react to foods like fennel, parsley, pears, plums, carrots, apples, kiwis, and celery.
    • If you're allergic to ragweed pollen, you may also have allergies to cucumber, banana, melons, and zucchini.

Method 2
Taking Medications to Help With Symptoms

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    Have yourself tested for allergies. If you haven't been tested for allergies, it's a good idea to find out what you're allergic to. You may already know you're allergic to pollen based on the fact that you have allergy symptoms when there's a high pollen count. However, if you don't realize that you also have other allergies, you may not be doing all you can to alleviate your symptoms.[14]
    • The most common type of allergy test is a skin test. Basically, the skin on your forearm or back is divided into small sections and marked. They will then drop a bit of each allergen in each section. Your skin will be pricked so that the allergen penetrates the top layer of skin better. After the test, you wait to see which patches of skin react, usually with a red, itchy patch.
    • Another common type of test is a blood test. A blood test is not quite as sensitive as a skin prick test, but it can help detect some of your major allergens.[15]
    • Before an allergy test, you must stop any antihistamine you're on five days ahead of time, as antihistamines may prevent you from reacting to allergens. You may also need to stop other medications, so talk to your doctor about what you're taking.
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    Try antihistamines. Antihistamines are often the first line of defense for allergies. Fortunately, many antihistamines are readily available over-the-counter. You have your choice of several non-drowsy antihistamines that are meant to be taken once a day.[16]
    • Some of your options include loratadine (Claritin), cetirizine (Zyrtec), and fexofenodine (Allegra).
    • When taking medications, particularly antihistamines, try to take them before you need them. That is, pay attention to the pollen counts. If you notice they're going to be high in the next day or two, start taking your antihistamines in anticipation.[17]
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    Use a nasal corticosteroid. This type of nose spray is another common treatment for allergies, and they are also available over-the-counter. It is a type of steroid, but it doesn't have the side effects of oral steroids. In addition, it can be used long-term, unlike some other types of nasal sprays. Most pharmacies carry these types of sprays.[18]
    • Two common types of these sprays are mometasone furoate (Nasonex) and fluticasone propionate (Flonase).[19]
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    Consider decongestants. Decongestants can help un-stuff your nose. The main types of decongestants are pills, sprays, and drops. However, sprays and drops should only be used for a couple of days in a row. Otherwise, they can make symptoms worse.[20]
    • The main common oral decongestant is pseudoephedrine (Afrinol, Sudafed). Sprays include phenylephrine (Neo-Synephrine) and oxymetazoline (Afrin).[21]
    • Some oral medication combine both antihistamines and decongestants, so make sure you don't double-dose.
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    Ask about inhalers. Some people have asthma symptoms in relation to pollen allergies. If you have symptoms such as shortness of breath, tightening in the chest, or wheezing, you may need a medication to deal with these symptoms specifically.[22]
    • Common types of asthma medications include inhaled steroids or bronchodilators, oral anti-leukotrienes or bronchodilators, and/or injected medications.
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    Utilize immunotherapy treatment. Immunotherapy is a process where you're desensitized to allergies by being exposed to small amounts of the allergen at a time. The most common form of immunotherapy is allergy shots. Once you know what you're allergic to, your doctor can develop shots just for you that you take on a regular basis to help alleviate your symptoms[23].
    • Tablets that dissolve under your tongue are a new form of immunotherapy. However, some studies have shown that they don't work as well as shots and may only provide minor relief.[24]

Method 3
Trying Natural Solutions

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    Use saline to rinse away pollen. Saline can help both your eyes and your nose. Use saline drops in your eyes when you come inside to help rinse them out. Similarly, you can use saline nose spray to rinse out pollen from your nose.[25]
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    Try butterbur or spirulina. Some people have luck with taking extracts of either spirulina, which is dried algae, or butterbur, which is a type of shrub. However, not everyone benefits from these treatments, and they may not be safe for everyone.[26]
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    Consider acupuncture. Other people have had luck with acupuncture as treatment for allergies. In fact, some scientific evidence backs it up, but it will not work for everyone. Nonetheless, there's little risk with this treatment. To try acupuncture, look for a certified acupuncturist in your area or ask your doctor for a recommendation.[27]

Sources and Citations

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Article Info

Categories: Allergies and Immunization