“If the constant cold weren’t enough, a brutal winter has many speculating that the polar vortex will be replaced by a ‘pollen vortex,’ leaving allergy sufferers sniffling and miserable,” says NBC News. “It’s like winding up a spring and letting it go all at once.”
But you may be able to cut down on the misery.
Monitoring high-pollen days and adjusting your activities accordingly (read as: stay inside with windows closed whenever possible); wearing a mask for outdoor activities like mowing the grass or gardening; washing clothes and showering immediately upon getting home to keep your house pollen-free; and stocking up on antihistamines and decongestants are just some of the ways to cope this allergy season. For a full list of recommendations, see “20 Ways to Stop Allergies” from Health.com.
Over-the-counter antihistamines that are generally readily available at any drugstore or grocery include diphenhydramine (Benadryl), chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton) and clemastine (Tavist). But be warned: these are more likely to cause drowsiness and slow reaction time, so they shouldn’t be taken when driving or doing other potentially dangerous activities.
Also, remember that antihistamines work better the earlier you take them. Recognize your allergy symptoms. Typical reactions to pollen include runny nose, congestion, watery or itchy eyes, sneezing, headaches, cough, and even itchy ears and throat. Take the antihistamines sooner rather than later to prevent these symptoms before they start.
If you’re a chronic allergy sufferer, ask a health care professional about 24-hour, daily allergy medications such as those containing loratadine (Claritin), cetirizine (Zyrtec), desloratadine (Clarinex), levocetirizine (Xyzal), and fexofenadine (Allegra). Nasal sprays and other corticosteroids are another treatment option that work for many people. You might also try a saline rinse, as recommended by the The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, which has the drug-free benefit of being compatible with other treatment options.