The changing weather brings one big downfall: allergies. More than 50 million Americans suffer every year, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. But before heading to the drugstore for some Claritin, Zyrtec or Allegra, try alleviating the symptoms in a natural way. Dr. Wang Y. Mak, allergy specialist at NYU Langone Allergy & Immunology Associates in Great Neck, offered some tips.
Wash the pollen away
After staying outdoors for a while, it’s important for an allergy sufferer to hop into the shower once they get home in order to wash the pollen out of the hair and body. Same goes for the clothes worn outdoors: “Put those clothes into the laundry because you don’t want to track all that pollen all over your home.” Pollen is very “pesky,” Dr. Mak said, and can linger in a home for days once it finds its way in.
Keep pets clean
Pet owners also shouldn’t forget about their furry friends, especially since many dogs love to roll around in grass. They are likely to transfer all the pollen from outdoors into the home with one dash through the living room. “Before they come in and walk all over your home, wipe them down,” Dr. Mak said.
Close the windows
Open windows are an invitation for pollen to enter the home. “I know some people will say, ‘I need fresh air,’ but unfortunately that’s the easiest way for pollen to get into your home,” Dr. Mak said. “And once it gets in, you’re going to be in trouble.”
Clean the air conditioner
Opt for air conditioning instead of an open window, but it’s important to make sure the filter is clean. A dirty filter can blow all the dirt and pollen from last season into the air making it impossible to get rid of those allergies. An air filtration unit like HEPA is another solution. But Dr. Mak said to be careful of ionizing filters which create ozone that may aggravate those with asthma.
Consume local honey
It’s not a myth: local honey can actually help since bees gather the pollen that people are allergic to. But the key is to ensure it’s actually local honey and not a jar from another state. Luckily, there are several places along Long Island that produce their own honey, including The Hamptons Honey Company in Southampton and Buckabee Honey in Huntington Station. “I wouldn’t consume the whole jar all in one sitting…just enough to sweeten your beverage maybe twice a day,” Dr. Mak suggested.