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Dealing with spring allergies

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Story highlights

  • Seasonal allergic rhinitis affects nearly 50 million Americans
  • Keep your windows and doors closed to avoid letting pollen inside
  • Shower every night to remove any outdoor allergens
  • Workout in clothes that are 100% cotton

While most of us welcome spring and summer for their longer hours of sunshine, the two seasons can be kind of a pain for allergy sufferers. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, seasonal allergic rhinitis (aka hay fever and nasal allergies) affects nearly 50 million Americans. That's a lot of tissues!

But the rising pollen count doesn't have to ruin your spring. Here are nine strategies that can curb your sneezing so you can breathe easier.

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At home

Shut your windows. "Keep your windows and doors closed at all times," says Dr. Andrew W. Murphy, allergy chief at Pennsylvania's Chester County Hospital. "Despite the desire to breathe in fresh air, an open window or door invites lots of pollen into your house."

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Murphy says the idea is to make your home a haven. "You want to keep pollen, in particular, out of the bedroom since we spend one-third of our lives in bed," he adds.

Shower every night. The minute you walk in the door each day, hop in the shower: A quick nighttime scrub is a simple yet effective way of removing the allergens that may have attached to you. "(You'll) literally be washing the pollen off," Murphy says.

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Change your filters. Assuming your windows are shut, the way to bring air into your home is through your air conditioner and fan.

"Since this air is actually being sucked into the home, it's important to change your filters to ensure the air coming out of your vents is clean," says Susanne Bennett, founder and CEO of the Wellness for Life Center in Santa Monica, California, and author of "The 7 Day Allergy Makeover."

She advises changing your filters twice a year -- after winter and during the summer -- and to specifically use HEPA charcoal air-purifier filters. "Charcoal absorbs chemicals inside your home," she adds.

In your car

Close yourself off. Making sure the windows and sunroof are shut will help prevent pollen from entering your car. In fact, it's even more important to do this in your vehicle than in your home, since your car's such a confined space.

"I'm sorry, but it's probably not the best time of year to put down the roof of your convertible," adds Murphy.

Clean inside. Even if you're diligent about keeping your car windows closed, pollen can still find its way inside each time you and your passengers open the doors. Murphy advises that you vacuum the interior -- seats, console, mats, etc. -- on a weekly basis.

"You want to be careful about going too long without a good cleaning," he says, "because mold and other bacteria can begin to grow." While you're at it, ditch the vent clips and car fresheners, since these scented items could contain potential irritants.

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Push the button. "The minute you start your car, push that little recirculating air button and never turn it off," advises Bennett. "This will keep the vents closed so you're not sucking the pollen -- along with the car exhaust, the dirt and the smog -- into your car."

During your workout

Exercise in the p.m. Both Murphy and Bennett say pollen counts tend to be higher in the morning hours. So before heading out for a run, check the pollen count in your area.

Also, keep in mind that weather conditions affect pollen levels, the most bothersome being wind (since pollen will be airborne). "The truth of the matter is, if you're suffering from moderate to severe allergies, you should work out indoors," notes Bennett.

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Wear cotton. Your workout gear may be stylin', but you might want to put aside the shiny colored training shorts and work out in clothes made from 100% cotton. "Because synthetic workout clothes are staticky, they attract more pollen," explains Bennett. Also, before tossing your sweaty activewear into the hamper, place it in a plastic bag so the pollen doesn't spread around.

Bathe your eyes. As soon as your jog/run/hike in the great outdoors has ended, Bennett advises that you wash your eyeballs in order to rid of them of pollen. Here's her three-step process:

1. Add a pinch of sea salt to a cup of filtered water. "Do not use tap water, since it contains chlorine and can cause more irritations," she says.

2. Pour the salt water to the rim of a shot glass.

3. Lean over the sink, place your eyeball into the glass and blink. "Many times, your nose gets congested because of the watery eyes," explains Bennett. "So once your eyes have been rinsed off, you're less likely to suffer from itchy eyes and a stuffy nose caused by springtime allergies."

This article was originally published on upwave.com.