Allergy Symptoms

Tips and tricks to relieve indoor and outdoor seasonal allergies

As anyone who suffers from them knows, allergy symptoms can really sap the joy out of everyday activities. Fortunately for us, there are many ways to help manage them, and in some cases, eliminate them altogether. (Don't get too excited, though. We can only manage the symptoms, not cure the allergy.)

There are many medication options available over the counter to treat a wide range of symptoms. Claritin, Benedryl, Tavist and Chlor-Trimeton are some. Or, you can choose an over-the-counter option that treats only one specific symptom, such as a nasal spray like Afrin or Neo-Synephrin to treat nasal allergy symptoms, or eye drops such as Visine-A and Naphcon-A to treat eye allergy symptoms.

If you find you still need relief, a trip to the doctor may be in order. There are other broad-spectrum medications available by prescription: Zyrtec and Allegra are two common ones. There are also prescription nasal sprays like Flonase and Nasonex, and prescription eye drops like Patanol and Optivar.

There are a few studies that suggest that some herbal supplements may be helpful, as well. Butterbur and freeze-dried nettles are two that are showing promise. A salt-water gargle can temporarily ease an itchy throat, and a saline nasal rinse can temporarily relieve nasal symptoms.

Treating the symptoms is wonderful, but it is only part of the solution. Preventing symptoms, or at least taking steps to minimize exposure to allergens, is key. There are simple steps you can take to help accomplish this.

For indoor allergy symptoms, wear a mask when cleaning. Dust and vacuum often, and wash curtains and bedding frequently. Always dry all laundry in the dryer rather than on the line -pollens can stick to the fabric. Change furnace filters monthly, and put filters over the ducts.

If it is a pet that causes you problems, keep it off of the bed - preferably out of the bedroom altogether. You can also try spraying the animal down with a spray that reduces dander. You can find these at pet supply stores. (A bonus: your pet smells nice, too.)

If outdoor allergies are what's bother you, monitor the pollen count every day and avoid outdoor activities if the count is high or if the day is windy. Resist the temptation to open doors and windows to air out the house. Keep the air conditioner running both in the house and in the car. Shower and wash your hair every day, especially after exposure to the great outdoors. Wear a mask when working outside, and wash your clothes before you shower to avoid transfer of pollens back onto your freshly washed body.

Allergy symptoms are no fun, but they don't have to rule your life. A little trial and error may be necessary, but relief can be just around the corner.

By Kelly Szymanski