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7 ways to fight allergy season

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It's here, big time: allergy season.

It always seems to start with a bang. One day there aren't any patients with allergy symptoms, and the next day the practice is full of them, and so many more are calling on the phone asking for advice and medication refills.

If you or someone in your family suffers from seasonal allergies (also called hay fever), here are 7 things you can do that will make a difference (I promise!):

Shut the windows. I know, after the long winter we've had, we're all dying to open the windows, and let in the fresh air. But pollen comes in with that fresh air, too. If you can, run an air conditioner: It helps clear out and dry the air.

Wash up when you come home. Wash your hands and face at least, and change your clothes if there's a lot of pollen outside. Have everyone do it, even those who aren't the big allergy sufferers, in order to decrease the amount of pollen in the house.

Stay out of the bedroom during the day. That's where you spend more hours than any other room in your home, so try to make it a pollen-free zone. The allergy-sufferer should bathe before bed, too.

Be careful with outdoor activities. Watch the pollen counts, and stay indoors as much as possible when they are high. Avoid yard work and other chores and activities that might increase pollen exposure.

Start medication as soon as allergy season starts. Don't wait until things get bad. I know, nobody likes taking medications if they aren't sure they are necessary. But since it can take a bit (like a few days or more) for the medication to really take effect, you'll be behind if you wait until things are miserable.

Keep taking your medicine. Don't skip days if you feel better, for the reason above. Wait until allergy season is over!

Ask for help if things aren't getting better. Sometimes it helps to change up the allergy medicine or to add a nasal spray or eye drops. Don't suffer in silence: Call your doctor!

Even though it seems like spring allergy season will never end, it will. Hey, we thought that winter would never end and it did! So try the tips--and hang in there.

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