9 ways to ease allergies without medicine

Following a few simple steps may help reduce allergy symptoms from pollen

Greater Louisville is known for allergies, and this year is no exception. Spring has brought high pollen counts, and you can actually see a coating of yellow pollen on items left outdoors.

An allergy happens when the immune system reacts to a substance, such as pollen, and releases histamine, a chemical found in some of the body’s cells. After histamine is released,  symptoms appear in the nose, sinuses, eyes, throat and even ears, skin and stomach. Many times the result is a runny nose, sneezing, headaches, itchy and watery eyes and sore throat.

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If you’re struggling, there are some things you can do to reduce your reactions and also soothe your symptoms, according to Rachel Alexander, APRN, Norton eCare:

1. Limit your time outdoors. Pollen counts are highest in midday, early evening and when it’s windy.

2. Use air conditioning both in the car and in your home. Consider a HEPA filter for your home.

3. Shower in the evening to wash the pollen off before bedtime. Be sure to thoroughly wash your hair. The steam from the shower is sometimes beneficial in relieving symptoms.

4. Use a saline rinse to clear pollen from nasal passages. There are several varieties out there, from neti pots to special sprayers and even electronic devices. Talk to your health care provider about the best options for you.

5. Keep pets out of your bedroom if they have been outdoors. This reduces the amount of pollen in your sleeping area.

6. Dry clothes in a dryer, not outdoors on a clothesline.

7. For itchy eyes, use a cold compress to reduce symptoms. And don’t rub — it can make symptoms worse.

8. Sip warm tea to relieve a sore throat from drainage. While you sip, inhale the steam to reduce sinus congestion.

9. For sinus pain and pressure, try a warm compress on your face.

If you’re really struggling, medications may be necessary.

“There are multiple over-the-counter medications as well as prescription medications you can try,” Alexander said. “Antihistamines will keep your body from having a reaction to the allergen. These can be found in liquids, pills or even nasal sprays.

“A decongestant can also help relieve sinus pressure and a runny nose. However, you want to consult your physician or a medical provider before you start using a new medication because these medications may not be appropriate if you have certain health conditions such as high blood pressure.”

If these solutions don’t work, you may want to talk with your medical provider about seeing allergist for testing.

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