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Ten Tips to Ease Springtime Allergies

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Ah, spring. The trees bud, the flowers bloom and the grasses flourish. But for 60 million Americans, our beautiful, burgeoning landscape brings a host of misery, including sneezing, sore throat, and watery eyes.

There are a wealth of both over-the-counter and prescription medications available to ease allergy misery. However, these medications may not succeed in getting rid of all your symptoms. Here are ten lifestyle tips to help ensure a clear-eyed and sneeze-free spring is yours to enjoy.

  • Wash and change your clothes: Pollen likes to hang onto our bodies and our clothing.

    You’ll suffer fewer sniffles if you shower and change into clean clothes at the end of the day or after a long stretch of outdoor activity.

  • Cover up when you work outside: If you’re doing yard work, wear a NIOSH-approved mask (to prevent inhalation of pollen and other allergens that might be floating around.

    NIOSH stands for National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. These masks, which filter at least 95 percent of airborn particles, can be purchased at most larger home improvement stores. For extra protection, wear garden gloves and long pants and sleeves to protect your skin from allergens.

  • Embrace cloudy skies, still winds: Pollen counts are higher on sunny, breezy days.

    Scheduling your outdoor time during calm winds and cloud cover can help minimize your pollen exposure.

  • Use a neti pot: Neti pots have been around for centuries. They are a safe and effective way to flush harmful irritants out of your sinuses.

    A neti pot looks like a small tea pot but it has a longer, more slender spout. Fill the pot with warm salt water. Tilt your head to one side. Put the neti pot spout just inside the opposite nostril and pour. Out comes the pollen, dust, and other microbes that make you sniffle and sneeze.

  • Ask someone else to cut your grass: Ask a friend who doesn’t have allergies to mow in exchange for a meal, or hire a neighborhood kid or lawn service.

    Whoever ends up cutting your grass, be sure to leave your doors and windows closed for a few hours afterwards to give kicked-up allergens a chance to settle down.

  • Landscape with anti-allergy plants: Plants have different ways of going forth and multiplying.

    Some plants spread their seeds via air. Others depend on insects to carry their pollen. You want to fill your garden with the latter and avoid the former. This means landscaping with plants such as St. Augustine grass, azaleas, hibiscus, begonias, impatiens, hostas, red maples, dogwoods, and cherry trees.

  • Install HEPA filters: High-efficiency particulate air filters trap very tiny particles, including pollen, so they don’t fly through the air in your home and aggravate your allergies.

    HEPA filters are available for furnaces, air conditioners, vacuum cleaners and room air filters. Use them in every appliance you can to reduce the allergens you breathe.

  • Keep pets off the furniture: Pollen gets trapped in pet hair.

    So when your pets lay around the house, they can transfer pollen onto your couch, bed, chairs, etc. Confine them to the floor and and bathe them frequently.

  • Forgo the clothesline: Drying your clothes outside can save lots of money on the electric bill, but . . .

    Unfortunately, line drying outdoors can also bring lots of pollen into your life. Dry clothes indoors if you want to keep springtime allergy symptoms at bay.

  • Monitor pollen levels daily: Most meteorologists include pollen counts as part of their daily forecasts throughout the spring and summer.

    When pollen levels are high, keep your windows closed and limit your outdoor activity as much as possible. If you have to go outside for extended periods, wear a mask.

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