5 Ways to Outsmart Allergies

by Kimberly Daly Farrell
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5 Ways to Outsmart Allergies

Itchy, watery eyes, a runny nose, sneezing, and coughing are common reactions to grass and pollen this time of year—in fact, nearly 40 million Americans suffer from seasonal allergies. But after being stuck inside all winter (thanks a lot, Polar Vortex!), the last thing you need is another P-word preventing you from stepping outside. Don’t let allergies ruin your spring; find some relief instead.

1. Eat more veggies You already know they’re good for your waistline, turns out green vegetables can soothe allergy flare-ups, too. Studies show foods rich in vitamin C and folic acid can help reduce the immune response associated with hay fever. Load your shopping cart with broccoli, collard greens, and kale, all of which are full of anti-inflammatory agents.

2. Sip green tea Researchers in Japan found upping your intake of EGCG, the compound that gives green tea its antioxidant powers, can prevent your body from mounting an immune response to typical allergens, including pollen. Brew yourself two to three cups a day to maximize the effects.

3. Strike a yoga pose A small study in 2010 found practicing yoga regularly reduces inflammation in the body, and can lessen the severity of an allergy attack. A number of moves unblock nasal passages and improve breathing. Two good ones: Warrior 1, which relieves stuffiness by opening up your lungs, and Half Moon, which expands the ribcage.

4. Clean up your act Pollen and other airborne allergens tend to cling to clothes, skin, and hair—don’t bring them inside! Take your shoes off at the front door, keep a hamper for workout wear in the foyer (to be tossed in the laundry ASAP), and scamper straight to the shower to rinse everything off.

5. Consider Rx pills and sprays Over-the-counter antihistamines can soften the impact of your allergy symptoms. But just as no two dandelions are exactly alike, neither are two immune responses. That means, what worked for you last year may not do the trick this season. Your doctor can help you decide if you need something stronger, such as prescription-strength pills and shots, or a steroid nasal spray. 

One, or a combination, of these allergy relievers may help you feel better, but sometimes staying indoors is still your best bet. Sky-high pollen counts and unfavorable air pollution conditions just aren’t worth the risk of a sneeze-fest or an asthma attack. Be sure to check levels before booking a bootcamp class in the park or making al fresco dining plans.


  • Jen

    I tried an Rx spray… heads up… corticosteroids in those sprays can make you SO HUNGRY. At least they did for me. That may derail your careful meal planning. If being hungry is less annoying than being stuffed up with a post nasal drip, then they still might be right for you. As an alternative, try a saline nasal rinse like Neti Pot, NeilMed, or a saline spray like Simply Saline, available in drugstores. Ask pharmacist.

    If you’re allergic to weeds and flowers and bee-pollenated things, try eating a spoon of local raw honey every day, although that won’t do much for those of us allergic to wind-pollenated trees and grasses, and molds mildews etc.

  • Maggie Giamalvo

    When I’m having an allergy fit, I use Claritin-D and it works great for me! Prior to my allergies flaring up, I have the same suggestion for preventing it as I do for nearly every ailment imaginable… drink more water! …not liquids that can pass for “water” in your diet plan (tea, coffee, etc) …not juice… actual water. Staying well-hydrated helps. I don’t know the science of why exactly this works. I just know it does work for me.

    • Chris Hand

      I can second that. Even after I’m experiencing symptoms, more water always helps me.

  • Emily Moses

    I take one Zyrtec a day, whether or not it’s allergy season. It’s been working for me for about 3 years… But, Allegra, Claritin also work for me too. One a day takes the allergies away!

  • Heather B

    Nothing store bought worked for me. I found myself addicted to generic Flonase and without insurance so I turned to this Allergy Buster nasal spray because $50 for a generic allergy nasal spray just isn’t going to happen.
    I used Allergy Buster daily for a couple of weeks. Now I only use it as needed. It was SO AMAZING for me!

    • Heather B

      Also, should mention, most of my problem was becoming congested and/or developing sinus issues from allergies.

  • Meta Sienkiewicz

    Zyrtec is helpful for me… but I also made a point to get my shaggy winter hairdo trimmed back short and off of my neck. (Sort of under the category ‘clean up my act’.) That means less pollen hanging around in my hair for those times when I can’t get in the shower to wash off the outside.

  • Lorig

    Stinging nettle is one herbal supplement that has been helpful to me. Cheap and no drowsiness/feeling fuzzy-headed.

  • Au Naturel Mel

    Oh, thrilled to see green tea on the list. It helps in so many ways. Mel at mothersheeporganics