Sneezing, sniffling, and itching your way through the spring is bad enough without the possibility that you could be making things worse by mistake. Find out if you're unwittingly shooting yourself in the, er, nose with these four common allergy blunders:
If you often buy new OTC meds to treat hay fever but don't feel better, you could have year-round allergies, says Kathleen May, M.D., of the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. The same is true if you think you get a lot of colds or have sinus issues. Visit Allergyandasthmarelief.org to find a doctor who can pinpoint what's going on.
There's no need to wait until you're already suffering and miserable to take your prescription medications—some drugs can take as long as two weeks to kick in and offer real relief. Instead, you can significantly decrease, even prevent, symptoms by starting your meds a few weeks before your local allergy season starts, says Dr. May.
Just as important as finding the right treatment is making sure you're not asking for allergy angst. If you have a pollen allergy, keep windows shut, take a shower after being outside for a while, try to stay indoors midday, and run heating and AC units through a filter. Mold allergies can peak in the spring, so be sure to fix any water leaks.
One third of seasonal allergy sufferers also have oral allergy syndrome, a condition in which the immune system sees a similarity between the proteins in pollen and certain foods, setting off a reaction, says Dr. May. Raw apples, carrots, and celery activate a birch-pollen allergy, while bananas and some melons trigger a ragweed one.