Pollen doesn't have to get the best of you this spring. (Photo by Jackson Hyde).Pollen doesn't have to get the best of you this spring. (Photo by Jackson Hyde).Jared JonesStaff Writer
jrdjns@uab.edu

Story time: when I was in high school, I used to have terrible allergies that would flare up every spring and fall like clockwork. I would start terrible sneezing fits in class only to be ushered away, with a box of Kleenex, to the hallway where I could extricate my nostrils from the plague of airborne pollutants. When I say it’s bad, it’s bad.

One time I sneezed so hard and with such velocity I blew my classmate’s paper off her desk. She was sitting two seats in front of me.

Nowadays, it’s not so bad. Granted, I do have a day or two when I adjust to the changing weather, but it’s manageable.

I started paying attention to when the attacks would start and took special measures, like limiting my time outside, to make sure I wouldn’t embarrass myself and irritate my sinuses. And here I am, a stronger, more experienced allergy survivor to guide you to blissful sinus nirvana. I suffered so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.

Itching for a Solution

A lot of people have their own personal panacea for allergy relief. I opted to go the more natural route, ditching Zyrtec and other over-the-counter medications. If our ancestors could roam meadows and woodlands freely, then they must have done something right.

Local Honey

I love honey. It’s a tasty alternative to table sugar that’s packed with antioxidants and other good-for-you nutrients. A lesser known fact about local honey is that it’s made from the pollen you’re sneezing over. It has been speculated that consuming this honey may improve your immunity to allergens. However, data is inconclusive about whether that truly helps. I say try it. Honey is delicious anyway, so even if you lose, you win.

When you buy local honey, you’re supporting local business and helping to keep beekeeping viable and bees alive. The bees are dying out. I would expand, but I promised my editor I wouldn’t get on my soapbox this week.

Regular Cleaning

According to “Health.com,” dust and pet dander could be the reason why your flare-ups worsen when you get home. Regular cleaning to remove dust and pet dander is a sure bet to not bring your allergies in the home.

Steam

This is the one that I like to use. Pour boiling water in a bowl, place a towel over your head like a tent and inhale the steam for five to 10 minutes. Constantly sneezing clogs up my sinuses, so steam helps unblock my nasal passages.

It also indirectly opens up pores – in case you wanted to exfoliate your skin after.

Shower

If you’ve been outside in a particularly pollinated area, it’s probably best to strip out of your contaminated clothes and hop in a hot shower. The shower works much like the steam: it opens up your nasal passages and cleans your skin of any pollen you carried in with you.

And lastly, if you can’t find immediate relief with the options I mentioned, use a saline spray or an antihistamine, something that stops allergies in their tracks. Some antihistamines, like Benadryl, are great at relieving allergy symptoms, but may have side effects like drowsiness. Be careful. Read the label before consumption.

If you stay proactive about tackling allergies before they hit, I promise you’ll feel better this spring.

Smell the flowers. Frolic in the meadow. Just, you know, clean the pollen off after.