Survival tips for allergy season

Allergy season is here, and this one, on the heels of an unseasonably mild winter, promises to be a rough one. You can tell by the watery-eyed, sniffing, sneezing New Yorkers in the office, on the train, at the movies—pretty much everywhere.

Although there’s no surefire way to completely avoid suffering allergic symptoms, there are a few ways to minimize discomfort.

First of all, it’s important to know what exactly you’re allergic to—pollen, pet hair, dust, or all of the above. Speak with your doctor about tests to find out what your triggers are so you can tailor your efforts and medications appropriately.

Dust is a major cause of allergies—and it’s found everywhere. Rather than one big spring cleaning overhaul, clean frequently in your home and at your desk at work to keep allergens to a minimum. Change air filters in your home to encourage the circulation of clean air. Wash linens often and in hot water.

Particularly when pollen counts are high, stay indoors and keep windows and doors closed. When you do go out, brush off your clothes and wash your hands and face—even shower—when you come back inside.

While it’s important to speak with your doctor to determine if medication is needed to treat your allergies, a number of over-the-counter treatments work well: for example, try artificial tears for itchy, red eyes.

Dr. Beane is vice president and medical director at Healthfirst. For more tips on leading a healthier lifestyle, visit the Healthfirst Healthy Living website at