Where I live, we get a jump-start on spring’s seasonal allergies with a phenomenon called cedar fever. From December to February, the cedar pollen hits some people so hard that on top of the normal allergy symptoms, they also experience fatigue, headache, sore throat, and worse.
I get cedar fever, and it sucks majorly.
But I’m not willing to drug myself up for three months straight every year, so after my first bout with Pollenpocalypse I did some hard-core research on effective home remedies for allergies.
I put together a totally doable seven-step system that keeps my seasonal allergies at bay. If the sniffles start to get the better of me, it’s because I’ve slacked on one of these essential steps.
7 Home Remedies for Allergies – For Adults and Kids
If you or your kids are experiencing a waterfall from the general region of your nose, the inclination to claw your eyes out of your head, and/or a moment of dread as you anticipate the painful swallow every time you lift a glass to your mouth – these tips are for you. Hopefully they will bring you a little more comfort during allergy season.
But first, a disclaimer: I am not a doctor or even a self-made expert on allergies. These tips are based on my own experience of what worked, what allergy-ridden friends said worked for them, and advice from reputable web sites.
1. Don’t Breathe
…through your mouth. When you’re outside, breathing through your mouth gives the pollen a direct route into your body.
Shut your mouth, and breathe through your nose only. Your nose filters the air, which helps keep the allergens out.
2. Strip Down
All day long, pollen collects on your clothes, on your skin, and in your hair. So at the very least, every time you come inside wash your hands. Your face too, if possible.
Every night when you get home, take your shoes off at the door so you’re not tracking pollen throughout the house. Immediately change out of your contaminated clothes and throw them in the washing machine (see tip #4 below).
Then get yourself to the shower ASAP to wash the pollen off your body (yes, use soap). Wash your hair too. After you shower, change into clean clothes that haven’t been outside fraternizing with the pollen.
3. Flush Your Sinuses
“Nasal irrigation” sounds weird, and it feels even weirder when you actually do it – but those who incorporate nasal irrigation into their routine during allergy season swear by it.
Here’s how you do it:
- Get a neti pot (looks like a genie bottle) or a nasal rinse bottle. If you’re getting one for your kids, here’s a nasal rinse bottle just for kids’ little noses.
- Fill the nasal irrigation tool with the included saline solution. If your cleansing tool of choice doesn’t come with pre-made saline packets, it is extremely important to use distilled or boiled water, not tap water. (Don’t forget to make sure boiled water is cooled way down, though! Burning your sinus cavity probably won’t be an improvement over your allergy symptoms.)
- Following the directions that came with your tool, flush your sinuses one or more times a day to get the pollen out of your system.
In fact, if you normally use medicated nasal sprays for treatment, using a nasal irrigation tool first can help the spray medication work even better because it clears out the mucus that could block the spray from getting where it needs to go. (Goodness, I promise not to say “mucus” again!)
Full disclosure: I use a neti pot when I’m desperate for allergy relief, but I’m too much of a wimp to do it regularly. I’ve found this nasal mist much more doable on a regular basis.
4. Pretend Doing Laundry Is Fun
You should be throwing your clothes from each day directly in the washing machine, so run loads of laundry as often as necessary to keep the pollen out of your home and off your body. Wash your pillowcases frequently as well – this is most important if you aren’t in the habit of showering before you get into bed because the pollen from your hair and body can get on the pillowcase, and then you’ll breathe in that pesky pollen night after night.
And don’t forget to wash your sheets at least once a week in hot water to eliminate all the allergens.
5. Clean Like You Have OCD
Vacuum and dust regularly to collect the pollen that has breached your defense system. Be sure to use a vacuum cleaner with a small-particle or high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. We are madly in love with our Dyson vacuum – it successfully handles allergy season and the fur of five cats AT THE SAME TIME. (The Dyson line of upright vacuums also happens to be certified by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.)
6. Filter Your Air
It won’t do any good to rid your body, your clothes, and your house of pollen if your HVAC system is letting all that pollen right back in again. Here’s how to make sure the air in your house is as pollen-free as possible:
- Replace your air filter regularly during allergy season and use a good quality filter that promises to capture pollen and mold spores. This is the air filter we use during allergy season. Quick tip: If you have trouble remembering to replace your filter, set up a repeating reminder on your phone or jot it in your calendar.
- If the weather is so mild that you don’t need A/C or heat on, run your HVAC fan to help filter the air in the house.
- Consider getting a standalone air purifier for your bedroom and any other rooms where you spend a huge chunk of time. We got this air purifier, and it cleans the air like a champ.
7. Be Antisocial
Not really. But do try to stay indoors as much as possible, especially on days when pollen count is predicted to be high.
For example, you could have a fun indoor camping night with the kids and make s’mores in the microwave. Or instead of meeting friends out for dinner, you could host a cozy get-together at your place. Just make sure you keep a hose at the front door to spray all the pollen off your guests as they arrive.
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How do you manage seasonal allergy symptoms? Share your tip in a comment below!