Due to several years of record-breaking levels of seasonal pollens, it is essential to have an allergy survival plan in place. Why such high levels? Climate change, the rise in worldwide temperatures and greenhouse gases, record amounts of precipitation, and overplanting of male plants have resulted in longer allergy seasons. All these factors have created a perfect storm for those who suffer from seasonal and mold allergies.

Stay one step ahead for an allergy-free season! First, you need to know if you have seasonal allergies so you can customize a successful allergen avoidance and management plan.

Second, many sufferers don’t realize that medications often work better before symptoms take hold. You may actually need less if started before peak allergy periods.

Allergies can take a toll on many areas of your life. Sleep is big one. Allergy sufferers are often sleepy during the day, especially if you are hooked on drowsiness-causing OTC medications or insomnia-causing oral decongestants. Daytime fatigue can actually be caused, in part, as a result of blocked nasal passages that disrupt sleep patterns. That’s what I refer to as “allergy fatigue syndrome.”

Get the right treatment to control your seasonal and indoor allergies, so you can breathe better at night and have better quality rest. It’s time to break the cycle, get treated successfully, and sleep better. Eventually, you won’t even need that extra latte!

Here are some allergy survival strategies that I have found to be extremely helpful to allergy sufferers:

Stay Cool: Cool eye compresses may improve appearance and reduce unwanted eye allergy symptoms.

Be a Star: Wear big sunglasses to block pollen entry into your eyes/eyelids, especially on windy days.

Rinse Wisely: Wash your eyelids gently when you wash your face each morning. Shampoo your hair in the evening if you have been out on high-pollen days (or after being outdoors) to remove and wash away unwanted seasonal pollens and molds. This will stop them from landing on your pillow and bed sheets during the night.

Wear a Hat: Get a sombrero! Wear a wide-brimmed hat to prevent pollens from landing on top of your head.

Say No to Hair Gel: Don’t use hair gel and similar hair-care products that can act as “pollen magnets” during the height of allergy season.

Avoid the Pollen Problem: Consider exercising indoors on very high-pollen days. Higher levels of pollens are usually found on warm, dry and windy days.

Plan Ahead and Know Your Pollen Count: Go to aaaai.org/nab for accurate pollen and mold levels in your area. Pollen levels are typically higher on warm, sunny, dry and windy days, and lower on cooler, moist, wet and “windless” days.

Mask It: Wear a pollen mask, use gloves, and avoid touching your eyes and face. This can really help during gardening and/or lawn mowing.

Don’t Line Dry: Never line dry clothing outdoors on high-pollen days, as it will adhere to your linens, towels

Avoid Certain Plants and Flowers
They may be pretty, but it’s better to keep your distance. Many flowers will drive up your allergy symptoms, especially if you really inhale their aroma up close. Avoid the following: Daisies, chrysanthemum, amaranthus, dahlia, sunflower, black-eyed Susan, zinnia, privet and lilac.

Try an Allergy-Friendly Garden: Plant gladiolus, periwinkle, begonia, bougainvillea, iris and orchid. These plants won’t aggravate your allergies.

Start Your Allergy Treatment Early: See an allergist for simple, fast, reliable allergy tests so you can get relief.

Get Shot: Allergy injections are the only immune system treatment that can actually prevent the progression of your allergies, and provide long-term relief in 85% or more of properly selected allergy sufferers.

Medications Work: Effective and safe choices for relief include: OTC nasal saline sprays/rinses, prescription nasal steroid and antihistamines, oral antihistamines, leukotriene blockers, and allergy eye drops.

Clean the Air: At home or when driving, keep windows closed and set the air conditioner on “re-circulate” to keep out the pollens. Clean filters in air conditioners frequently during allergy season to get the best efficiency. The MERV is a rating scale that tells you how good a filter is at removing allergens in your home. The higher the rating, the better off you are. Look for a MERV value of 11-12.

Avoid Window Fans: This is a rather good way to bring in unwanted pollens or mold spores. If you don’t want that, skip window fans.

Avoid Cross-Reactions: As many as 1 in 3 seasonal allergy sufferers may experience “oral allergy syndrome” (tingling of the mouth or itchy throat) after ingesting certain foods (apples, pears, carrots, celery, peaches, cherries, as well as almonds and hazelnuts). If you have seasonal tree pollen allergies, this is due to a cross-reaction between the proteins in these foods and the pollens. Melons, tomatoes and oranges may cross-react with grass pollens. If you are sensitive to weed pollens watch out for melon, chamomile tea, and banana.

Enjoy the great outdoors this season with these simple, practical and proven ways to stay allergy-free!