5 Allergy Fighters You May Not Have Thought Of

Seasonal allergies can hit you hard, but there are more options for fighting back than you realize.

June 3, 2009

Just the thought of allergy season may have you reaching for a tissue. Or Claritin. And with the news that the 2012 spring allergy is already shattering pollen count records, it's more important than ever to arm yourself with natural allergy remedies that will help you feel better without the unwanted side effects of allergy drugs.

Sure, allergy symptoms aren't generally life-threatening, but seasonal allergies are nothing to sneeze at, either. More than two-thirds of people actually endure symptoms year-round, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). Popping pills is easy, but we’re here to remind you of other tried-and-true (and often forgotten) methods of dealing with stubborn seasonal allergies. Avoidance is the best prescription, but that’s not always possible.


Here are your secret tools for beating allergies:

1. The Internet. Use your keyboard as a tool to combat itchy eyes and a scratchy throat. First, take the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology's Relief Self-Test to figure out the severity of your problem. You can also keep an eye on pollen counts by checking with the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology every day (keep in mind, levels are usually highest during midday). If your Internet connection conks out, look to the sky and use this general rule of thumb: cloudy, windless days = less pollen. You can also shop online for that new vacuum cleaner, if you don’t already have one equipped with a HEPA filter, something essential for allergy sufferers.

2. That weird-shaped pot. “No way! I’m not doing that!” If you’ve ever found yourself grimacing at the thought of using a neti pot, you may want to reconsider. Filling the little pot with a saline solution and flushing it through your nostrils is an increasingly popular way of dealing with allergies naturally. Plus, research shows it’s just as effective as medicine, without all the side effects. And while it may look like you’re snorting liquid from a bullhorn, many doctors say it’s worth the initially awkward sensation. "Neti pots and sinus saline rinse are becoming a standard treatment for patients with allergies and sinus disease. No question they are well received by many allergists, ear, nose, and throat doctors, and others who treat allergies," says Clifford Bassett, MD, a fellow of the ACAAI.

3. A massage. Relaxation unleashes a biological mechanism that prevents the brain from sending the "attack the allergens!" response that gets you sneezing and wheezing. Massage's natural allergy relief properties lower blood pressure and heart rate while improving circulation, which will lower stress levels and help keep your allergies under control. Meditation, hanging out with friends, and writing down what you’re worried about can also dramatically lower your stress levels. If meditation seems too out there for you, try this simple exercise: Sit cross-legged on the floor with your head, neck, and trunk of your body straight. Rest your hands on your thighs and close your eyes. Focus on the bridge between your nostrils, and concentrate on each breath in and out for one to three minutes for a natural allergy treatment.

4. Your neighbor’s kid. Grass pollen is a common summer allergen, so try not to torture yourself by mowing the grass. Instead, enlist a capable neighbor kid to the task—he or she will appreciate a few extra bucks, and you can stay inside and enjoy a cool drink. If you’re really adventurous, and if your municipality allows it, get a goat or sheep to much on your lawn. (Hey, Maryland’s State Highway Administration is doing it!)

5. A mask. If your neighbor kid bails and you’re stuck doing outdoor chores that aggravate your pollen, grass, or mold allergies, wear a NIOSH 95 filter mask, suggests ACAAI. You can find them online, in pharmacies, or in hardware stores. Your neighbors may think you’re overreacting to a flu outbreak, but who cares! You’ll be able to breathe easy when you go back inside. As an added precaution, you should wear glasses or sunglasses when outside to keep pollen from invading your eyeballs. When you go inside, take a shower, wash your hair, and change your outfit to get rid of residue riding on your wardrobe. For more ideas, check out natural remedies for allergies on the Home Remedy Finder.