September 26, 2022

A whopping 50 million Americans experience allergies every year, often in the form of hay fever or allergic rhinitis. 
Allergies can occur at any time, indoors or outdoors, causing symptoms that can range from mildly uncomfortable to life-threatening. 
But you need not suffer. Here are 13 ways to treat just about any pesky allergy from mold to pet dander — and you don’t even need a doctor’s visit. 
If someone is experiencing nasal allergy symptoms, like congestion or an itchy nose, nasal irrigation with a saline rinse or spray is a great first line of defense, says Omid Mehdizadeh, MD, otolaryngologist (ENT) at Providence Saint John’s Health Center.
You can first try buying a saline (saltwater) spray at your local grocer and spraying it in each nostril to loosen up the mucus and relieve congestion. 
You can also try using a nasal irrigation device such as a Neti Pot. 
Whether you’re using a saline spray or a Neti Pot, you will follow the same instructions:
“The irrigations are best because the patient is actually mechanically removing all the irritants from the nose. In many instances that could be quite helpful,” says Mehdizadeh.
Investing in a high-quality air purifier can ease your indoor allergies. Mehdizadeh says air purifiers, particularly HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) purifiers, do a great job at trapping indoor airborne allergens, reducing your likelihood of an allergic response. 
Some common indoor allergens that the purifier can help with are dust mites and pet dander. 
If an indoor mold allergy is more your problem, Mehdizadeh says you need to lower the humidity in your home, since mold thrives and grows in humid areas. In this case, Mehdizadeh recommends using a dehumidifier. 
Mehdizadeh says to always use a dehumidifier that is adjustable, so you can control how dry the room gets. You don’t want the nasal passages to get too dry, since this can cause discomfort as well. 
According to the EPA, humidity should be between 30% and 60% to stunt mold growth, so you can adjust the settings accordingly. Mehdizadeh says you should not go below 30%, since this can be irritating to the nose. 
Mehdizadeh says essential oils are potent, so it is important to consult with your doctor before using them as an allergy remedy. 
That said, some common essential oils for allergies include:
One way to use these essential oils is to put them in a diffuser.
Alternatively, you can use products like Vick’s VapoRub, which contains both menthol and eucalyptus oil to provide symptom relief.
You can also find dissolving shower tablets that contain these essential oils, so when the shower gets steamy, you will inhale the aromas. 
Masks can help filter out pollen and reduce allergy symptoms.
A small 2021 study found that people who wore either medical or FFP2 (similar to kn95) masks reduced their exposure to pollen and staved away allergy symptoms.
Another small 2021 study also found that wearing face masks helped allergy sufferers avoid symptoms in both the nose and eyes.
Check your local weather for the pollen count. On days with a high amount of pollen in the air, you might want to wear a mask while outside.
If you get seasonal allergies from plant pollen, it’s important to make sure those outside allergens don’t make it inside your home. 
Mehdizadeh recommends keeping your windows closed if you’re allergic to outdoor irritants.
Here are a few more suggestions to pollen-proof your home:
Researchers aren’t sure why it works, but, according to a 2015 meta-analysis, acupuncture was found to improve the symptoms and quality of life of allergy sufferers. 
Note: Make sure you go to a certified acupuncture practitioner. You can search the registry for the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine to find a certified acupuncturist in your area.
Antioxidants like vitamin C can help your body fight inflammation and may also ease allergy symptoms. 
In one large 2013 study among children in Korea, those with an increased vitamin C intake had fewer allergy symptoms. A small 2020 study also found that allergy sufferers who took daily vitamin C supplements improved their allergy symptoms.
Sources of vitamin C include:
Exposure to smoke, and in particular tobacco smoke, may exacerbate seasonal allergy symptoms. Even secondhand smoke can cause nasal inflammation and increase allergic reactions. 
A large 2015 study found that adult tobacco smokers experienced higher amounts of allergy symptoms than non-smokers. Another large 2015 study focusing on children also found that exposure to cigarette smoke increased allergy symptoms.
Wildfire smoke, even in low amounts, can also pose a risk to allergy sufferers. 
Spirulina is a microalgae that is rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It can be found at health food stores and some groceries and pharmacies.
A small 2020 study found that allergy sufferers who took a spirulina supplement for 12 weeks saw improved allergy symptoms and more relief compared to those who took the antihistamine cetirizine (brand name Zyrtec). 
In addition to offering relief from allergy symptoms, spirulina also has a number of other health benefits, including reduced inflammation.
A small 2018 study found that patients who did regular aerobic exercise for eight weeks saw improvements in allergy symptoms including nasal congestion, sneezing, and itching
If aerobic exercise doesn’t interest you, yoga may also help bring relief. A small 2019 study had a group of allergy patients do an hour of hatha yoga three times a week for eight weeks. The patients who did yoga regularly saw improved allergy symptoms due to reduced nasal blood flow and nasal inflammation.
Additionally, a small 2019 study found that people with allergies who exercised outdoors during the winter had reduced airway inflammation and saw improved allergy symptoms.
Note: When planning to exercise outside during allergy season, check the pollen count in your area and try to go when levels are lowest. Or exercise inside.
Having adequate vitamin D levels may not only reduce allergy symptoms, but also help immunotherapy treatments work more successfully. A small 2019 study found that immunotherapy treatments worked better for patients who had sufficient levels of Vitamin D. 
Another small 2019 study found that supplementing with vitamin D while also taking cetirizine improved allergy symptoms in people who had vitamin D deficiencies.
Scientists say there’s a need for more research on how vitamin D levels affect allergies in different people, but getting enough of this important nutrient can also support immune health, bone health, mental health, and more.
The average adult needs 600 International Units (IU) of vitamin D per day.
Important: Ingesting too much vitamin D can be harmful. Do not take more than 4,000 IU per day, unless instructed otherwise by a medical professional.
Local honey is thought to help mitigate seasonal allergies by offering some exposure to pollen.
One small 2013 study found that high doses of honey might help reduce allergy symptoms. But other studies, including one small 2002 study, found no evidence that honey helps with allergies. 
Ultimately, the research is inconclusive. But there’s little harm in trying this method to see if it works for you. 
Moreover, honey has been found to ease coughing and other symptoms of upper respiratory infections, and it offers a number of other health benefits.
Important: Consult with your doctor before trying any herbal remedies or supplements.
Some herbal remedies that are said to help allergy symptoms include:
If these natural remedies and lifestyle changes are not cutting it for you, you may want to try over the counter allergy medicines, including antihistamines like Claritin, Xyzal, and Zyrtec. These are what are called second-generation antihistamines, which means they are less likely to cause drowsiness, Mehdizadeh says. 
You can also try Benadryl, which is a first-generation antihistamine. Meaning it’s more likely to cause drowsiness and is best to take at night.
If you’re not seeing an improvement in your allergy symptoms, it’s important to see your doctor. Your doctor can help you find a solution as well as rule out any other possible causes of your symptoms. 
Whether your allergies are triggered by outside sources, like pollen, or inside irritants, like mold, there are several steps you can take to reduce your exposure and ease symptoms.
Avoiding pollen with a face mask and keeping it out of your home by sealing windows and washing up after being outside can help with seasonal allergies.
You can also put air purifiers and dehumidifiers to work inside your home to clear the air of dust mites, mold, and other indoor allergens.
To ease allergy symptoms such as a stuffy nose and sneezing, you can try nasal irrigation, certain essential oils, acupuncture, or supplements like spirulina.
If home remedies don’t work, you might need to turn to antihistamines like Claritin, Zyrtec, or Benadryl. If you still don’t have any improvement in your allergy symptoms, see a doctor to look into the possible causes of your symptoms and find a treatment plan.

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