Sick of Sneezing? Here's How to Say Goodbye to Those Spring Allergies ASAP


Woman sneezing into a tissue.<p>iStock</p>
Woman sneezing into a tissue.


With plants and flowers in full bloom, many of us are experiencing the unpleasant side effects of spring allergies: Runny nose, itchy eyes and nonstop sneezing. And let’s be honest—dealing with these symptoms can make it difficult to enjoy the outdoors.

The good news is that you can take back control of your health by being proactive and making sure you’re prepared the next time your allergies strike. Allergists share their top tips for getting your runny nose and itchy eyes under control—so you can ditch those itchy eyes and that runny nose ASAP.

How to Get Rid of Allergies Fast

Here are top tips from allergists for how to get rid of allergies fast:

1. Plan ahead

“Make sure you have used antihistamines and nasal steroids a week before any known exposure to allergens such as pollens, or pets,” says Dr. Dan Dalan, MD, a board-certified allergist at MercyOne.Nasal steroids can take a few days before they work.”

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2. Try not to rub areas of your body exposed to irritants and pollens

Many of us don’t realize how often we touch our eyes or scratch our noses. If you’ve been around pollen and touched those areas, you’re only making matters worse.

“Use covers—hats, masks and long sleeve clothing. Pollens have spikes on them, you can Google search and look at an image,” Dr. Dalan states. “You're scratching your eyes with them!”

You can open your eyes in clean water to help soothe and or rinse out particles and pollen, too.

3. Avoid going outside late in the morning

Late morning is the time when pollen counts are typically higher, especially on windy days. “Depending on the weather, pollens are released at their optimum circumstances. For example, uncut grass after a couple of weeks goes to seed,” Dr. Dalan explains. “That's where the pollens are.”

4. Don’t look into the wind

This will only make your symptoms worse. “You can't see pollen,” says Dr. Dalan. “It's like trying to fight someone you can't see.  Imagining or visualizing them makes you more mindful of taking action.  A fancy term is 'environmental mitigation.'”

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5. Say no to the clothesline

Don’t hang wet clothing outside on a clothesline, Dr. Clifford Bassett, MD, allergist and clinical professor of medicine at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, states. Use a dryer to prevent pollen from sticking to your clothes.

6. Know your pollen count

Pollen levels often rise on windy, dry, and sunny days and lower on wet, rainy and still days. Check out your local weather reports to identify peak allergy days.

The Ogren Plant Allergy Scale System (OPALS) is a standard that considers the likelihood that a plant—flowers, grasses, shrubs, and trees—will cause pollen allergy symptoms, Dr. Basset explains. "Each plant is ranked on a one to 10 scale, with 10 being the most allergenic. That means the OPALS ratings can help you as a consumer, a gardener and a person with allergies to reduce local pollen exposure. So, even if your garden is more allergy friendly, pollen may still affect you in your neighborhood and when you travel both close and far away."

7. Wear a hat 

Wide-brimmed hats are preferred for reducing allergy symptoms, according to Dr. Bassett."Hair gels can turn your head/hair into a pollen magnet. Pollen adheres and is easily transferable to your bedding, sheets and pillows," he states.

8. Try sinus irrigation with a xylitol saline solution

Studies show that sinus irrigation effectively rinses the sinuses of allergens, which can mitigate symptoms associated with allergic rhinitis and congestion. And saline with xylitol can help wash the nose.

“Sinus irrigation with a xylitol solution may help by boosting the body’s natural defenses by drawing moisture from swollen tissues and thinning the mucus,” Dr. Gustavo Ferrer, MD, expert for Xlear, pulmonologist and author of Cough Cures, explains. "When the mucus is too thick, it makes it difficult to get rid of contaminants. When the mucus is thin, it's much easier for the body to remove allergens.”

9. Use butterbur extract

Research shows the effectiveness of butterbur to alleviate allergic rhinitis, and in two separate studies, the herb functioned as well or better than Flonase and Allegrato to reduce allergic rhinitis symptoms, says Dr. Ferrer.

10. Utilize grindelia

This plant is filled with flavonoids, which are essential to maintaining optimal health. Grindelia works to eliminate mucus and acts as an antispasmodic to block the release of histamine. Grindelia also may ameliorate inflammation in the nose, sinuses, and throat, Dr. Ferrer explains.

11. Try propolis

Propolis lozenges and throat sprays offer some protective benefits. “Propolis is a substance made by trees to protect their buds against bacteria and fungus, and it's used by bees for their anti-fungal, antibacterial, and anti-viral benefits. My patients who cough due to a mold allergy say that propolis can even be used in a special vaporizer to clear living space of mold, germs and pollution,” says Dr. Ferrer.

13. Use a HEPA filter

Another way to keep your house free of allergens is by using a HEPA filter in your home. Dr. Ferrer states that using these filters may help reduce airway hyper-responsiveness.

14. Don't forget about medication

If nothing is working, consult with your local clinic for possible oral steroids, such as prednisone. When all else fails, a short-term week of oral steroids works fast, Dr. Dalan explains.

Next up: The Best Foods for Healthy Lungs—and the Ones to Avoid