Year-Round and Seasonal Allergies - Coping

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The best way to cope with allergic rhinitis (allergies) is to avoid the allergens and irritants that trigger symptoms. Those triggers may include:

  • pollen
  • dust
  • pet dander
  • mold
  • dust mites
  • feathers
  • tobacco smoke

Symptoms caused by dust mites in bedding and mattresses may be reduced by washing sheets and blankets once a week in hot water. Most pillows are also washable, even some made of feathers and down. To minimize exposure to dust mites and pet dander, pillows, mattresses, and box springs can be sealed with special coverings. Some are made of plastic, but others are made from micro-weave fibers that allow air to pass through making the fabric have a more natural, softer, and fluffier feel than plastic.

In addition, try these tips for coping with allergic rhinitis symptoms:

  • Stay indoors on days with high pollen or ragweed counts
  • Keep windows closed and air-conditioning on to prevent pollens and pollutants from entering and lower humidity
  • Use a dehumidifier to help prevent to accumulation of mold spores
  • Wash pets regularly and do not sleep in the same room with them
  • Use vacuums and air cleaners rated for their ability to remove allergens from the air
  • Vacuum often
  • Change air filters monthly

Finally, it is important to allow time for sleep. Being sleep deprived may affect your overall health and prevent your body from defending itself against the allergens that cause your symptoms. Also, try this tip before bedtime: take a hot shower which may be relaxing but may also help open nasal passages and also wash away allergens in the hair or on the skin.

Reviewed by David G. Davila, MD (December 2009).