The birds are singing. The flowers are blooming. The air is warming up and—ACHOO! Your spring allergies have arrived.
If you’re currently suffering from itchy eyes, a scratchy throat, and near-constant sneezing, we’ve got good news and bad news. The bad news: There isn’t much you can do to relieve symptoms now, beyond taking medicine and avoiding the outdoors.
But the good news? You can drastically improve your life next year—by following one simple rule.
The key is to keep track of when you started feeling symptoms this year so you can plan ahead, said Tayla Rose, assistant clinical professor in Northeastern’s School of Pharmacy. Then, next spring, start using a nasal steroid spray a couple weeks prior to when your records show the sneezing spree will start.
Nasal sprays and antihistamines take a while to kick-in, so if you wait until symptoms show up, you’re already too late to stave off the worst symptoms.
“Your immune system thinks pollen is something harmful that it needs to fight off. That fighting causes all of these symptoms—the itchy, watery eyes, a runny nose, sneezing,” Rose said. “By starting the steroid nasal spray a few weeks before allergy season, the medicine tells your immune system to relax and not get so worked up.”
If you’re looking for immediate relief, Rose recommends staying indoors during the day when pollen counts are highest, keeping windows closed to prevent a wind-blown pollen intrusion and these other tips from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, shown in the graphics, to keep symptoms at bay.