Reader C.S.S. asks:

It’s springtime and my allergies are driving me insane. Got any ideas on how to calm my sneezing?

Dear C.S.S.:

Ahhh spring. When we return to skirts and shorts and sandals and sneezing.

I, too, have trouble with allergies, although most of my problems tend to involve my eyes being red and watery. Yech.

Sneezing. Icky. Image: Yaron Jeroen van Oostrom / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Here’s what I do to quell the storm:

– During the day, take a non-drowsy antihistamine, like loratadine. (That’s the generic — you can get it cheaply at the drugstore, or pay full price for designer versions like Claritin.) At night, feel free to take Benadryl and sleep.

– Use eye drops. Almost any eye drops will do. Just keep your eyes lubricated.

– Get a neti pot. Run the saline up one nostril and out the other. I actually use saline out of a little plastic squeeze bottle. It doesn’t have any steroids in it — just salt water. This is important. It helps get pollen and other irritants out of your nose without using medicine, i.e. it won’t ruin your liver or kidneys. You can even just use warm salt water in a little cup or glass in your shower (I don’t recommend glass, though) and just pour it up your nose. As awkward as this feels, it can help immensely.

– When you can’t breathe at night, use a nose spray like Afrin. But use it SPARINGLY. I only use Afrin for two nights. You will get used to it and then it could make your nose run like the dickens. Also, while it relieves most of the immediate nasal congestion, the stuff can also make your sinuses tickle, leading to even more sneezing.

– To open up sinuses and nasal passages, I take a vibrating massager (get your head out of the gutter! not a sex toy!) and rub it on my nose and cheeks. This makes me sneeze, which allows me to blow my nose and get everything out and flowing again. I know you’re trying to avoid sneezing, but oftentimes it’s best to just let it all out. Get yer sneeze on!

– To get the red out of my eyes, I make sure I have two spoons in the freezer that I can apply to my eyelids for ten minutes before I get up and shower. Yes, this is a very unpleasant way to wake up, but putting the cold on my eyeballs really helps me to be able to wear my contact lenses. A cold wet washcloth can help, too, but the spoons are exactly the right size and the metal keeps the cold a lot longer than cloth will.

– Wash your face before bed and take a shower when you wake up. This not only rinses the pollen off ya’, but it helps open up your sinuses and your nasal cavity and gets the junk flowing so you can get rid of it. In fact, if you’re not afraid of overly dry skin in our desert climate, wash your face whenever you have an attack going. (You can always put on a moisturizer after.)

– Get an air filter. And make sure all the air ducts in your house are clean. Dust is the worst allergen, in my humble opinion. Don’t struggle uphill when you don’t need to. Your home should be a haven away from the nasty pollen outside. Make sure it is.


2 Responses to “allergies.”

  1. 1 Lena
    March 23, 2010 at 10:30 am

    my nose thanks you 🙂

  2. 2 Kristin
    March 23, 2010 at 10:43 am

    Timely advice! One tree in my backyard is about to burst into bloom and I’m bracing myself for the onslaught of pollen. I love the spring, but my sinuses don’t agree.

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