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Stay Ahead of Allergies: 8 Common Mistakes

Think allergies are just something you have to suffer through? You’re not alone. Allergies are now the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Unfortunately, untreated allergies can worsen over time, weaken your immune system and raise your risk for complications. While over-the-counter medicines can help you manage your symptoms, there’s other steps you can take to keep allergy symptoms under control. 

Read on for eight common mistakes people make which actually worsen their allergy symptoms. 

1.) Waiting too long to take medicine.

It’s harder to get allergy symptoms under control if you wait until your symptoms are bothersome. Some antihistamines work right away, others can take up to a week to reach their full effect. You can start taking them at the first sign of symptoms, or when pollen counts begin to rise. It’s also important not to skip doses. 

2.) Ignoring the forecast.

Know what your allergens are and follow the pollen counts. They can be higher in the morning versus the afternoon, for example. Windy weather also spreads pollens and allergens more easily through the air. 

3.) Wearing your allergens.

If you’ve been outside or around allergens, change your clothes. Better yet, take a  shower. If you don’t shower before bed, those allergens stay with you as you sleep. Frequent hand washing is also recommended, because pollen and allergens can be spread through contact with your hands. 

4.) Letting the dust settle.

When dust, pollen and other allergens build up in your home, your allergies can suffer. Frequent cleaning and vacuuming, preferably with a HEPA filter, can help. Change your furnace filter often to capture those small particles. Placing an air purifier with a HEPA filter in your bedroom can also help.

5.) Skipping the rinse.

Sure you blow your nose, but have you rinsed it? Using a saline solution to rinse mucus and allergens from your sinuses is an effective and inexpensive way to relieve congestion. To avoid risk of infection, be sure to use a saline solution. 

6.) Skimping on sleep and exercise. 

Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night to keep your immune system strong. Regular exercise also benefits your immune system and is good for your overall well-being. 

7.) Not quitting smoking.

Smoking increases inflammation in your airways and makes them more sensitive to allergens. Smoking also damages cilia, the little hairs that help clear allergens from the airways. Quitting smoking is good for every aspect of your health. 

8.) Sniffing and bearing it.

If your allergy symptoms interfere with your daily life, it’s time to see your primary care provider. They can advise you on over-the-counter options, including antihistamines, decongestants, bronchodilators and nasal sprays. A primary care provider can also  recommend more advanced treatments and specialty care, if appropriate. 

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