MD Mama

Four Simple (Non-Medical) Ways to Fight Hay Fever

3513364333.jpgIt's allergy season, big time. In the practice where I work, we are seeing lots of sniffling, sneezing, itching, miserable children. Some of their parents are pretty miserable with allergies too.

They come to us for medications, which we are happy to give them, but there are four simple things that everyone with allergies can and should do. They can make a big difference--and there's no medication involved.

1. Shut the windows. I know, after a long winter we are all dying to open the windows. But along with the fresh air comes...pollen. Keep it outside. If you've got an air conditioner, use it. If allergies are a big problem for someone in your family, talk to your doctor about whether a HEPA filter might make sense.

2. Wash up and change when you come inside. That way you get rid of the pollen you might be bringing in. This is especially important for the allergy sufferer, but if there's more than one, or one who's got it bad this year, it might be a good idea for everyone to do it.

3. Stay out of the bedroom during the day. If you think about it, you spend more hours in the bedroom than in any other room in the house. So try to keep it a Pollen-Free Zone.

4. Stay indoors when it's dry and windy, and don't play outside early in the morning. No point in setting yourself up for major pollen exposure. Check out the pollen count (most weather websites have them) as you are making your day plan.

If you are taking medication, take it regularly, not just when things get bad. Start taking it at the first sign of an allergy symptom (or earlier if your doctor tells you to)--and keep taking it until allergy season is over! The medicines generally work best that way--and sometimes, when you feel better it's because the medicine is working, not because the allergy is gone.

The other reason that people with allergies come see us is that they aren't sure if what they've got is an allergy or a cold. Which is easy to understand, because the two can be hard to tell apart! It's most likely allergy if:

-There's no fever
-Eyes are itchy and red
-There's lots of sneezing
-It gets worse when outside (especially if there's lots of pollen around!)
-It lasts longer than a few days

While a cough and green snots are possible with allergy, if either one lasts more than a few days (and definitely if there is any trouble breathing) you should check in with your doctor. You should also check in if you have any questions about allergies, or if nothing you are doing is helping. There's lots we can do to help everyone make it through this allergy season!

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