Once upon a time, I was the only member of my family who wasn’t plagued by seasonal allergies. Every spring and fall, like clockwork, my mom and sister would experience sneezing, runny noses, and itchy eyes, while I galavanted through life with my windows down, without a care in the world. Then, I moved to New York and despite a general lack of greenery in the concrete jungle, I joined their club. Before I knew it, I was stocking my medicine cabinet with Zyrtec and Flonase and scouring the Internet for the best home remedies for allergies.
As for why I developed allergies, it’s up in the air. Maybe it was because I was no longer used to the many trees that lined the streets of my hometown, so whenever I visited, I had to readjust, or maybe it was because I’d never in my life experienced the level of dust that I did in NYC; dust that seemed to appear out of nowhere, shrouding my shelves in a layer of fluffy, grayish residue that never seemed to go away (even after swiftly Swiffering it every day).
The point is: Whether you’re one of the lucky ones who has never experienced allergies or someone who has battled them all your life, knowing what helps to relieve allergies fast is an absolute game changer. As someone who understands the struggle, I’m here to help. With expertise from two allergy experts, ahead you’ll find everything there is to know about how to treat allergies naturally, along with tips on how to navigate allergy season, as well as year-round allergies that can pop up any season at all. (Oh, the joys!)
When is allergy season?
When people talk about allergy season, they’re most often referring to spring and fall allergies. That said, summer allergies exist, as well as perennial allergies that happen all year long. Learn more about the common allergies within each season, below.
In the spring
Tree pollen is the biggest culprit for allergies in the spring. Just think of all the bright yellow dust and stringy pollen bundles that fall from the trees and coat everything from cars and building windows to driveways and lawns. (FYI: It can also coat your clothes if you spend a lot of time outside during this time of year.) “Many trees, such as oak, birch, elm, maple, and cedar trees, produce a lot of pollen as they bloom,” says Amy Myers, MD, a two-time New York Times bestselling author and internationally acclaimed medical and functional medicine physician.
In addition to tree pollen, mold is a common spring allergen. “Due to the heavy rain that typically occurs in the spring, mold is often more prevalent during this time of year,” Myers says. “Mold spores need moisture to grow, so the rainy season makes conditions ideal.”
In the summer
In the summer, the world is ripe with grass pollen, which is a sad side effect of beautiful green lawns. “Grass pollen can trigger symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes in sensitive individuals,” Myers says.
While not plant-related, Myers points out that summer can also be a time when folks experience more allergic reactions to stinging insects like bees and wasps, simply due to more time spent outside.
In the fall
This time of year, ragweed pollen ravages our immune systems. Like grass pollen, ragweed pollen “can trigger symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes in sensitive individuals,” says Myers.
Autumn is also a prime time for mold allergies, as it tends to be damper than summer. “As with spring, the damp climate is ideal for mold to grow,” she says.
(Fun Fact: Because of the prevalence of pollen in spring, summer, and fall, the common query of “When is pollen season over?” is often a trick question, as pollen is a common characteristic of three out of the four seasons.)
In the winter
During the colder months, most of our immune systems finally get a break from the natural world. (Though, it depends on where you live, as some warmer places experience cedar pollen in the colder months, Myers says.) The bad news is that indoor allergies are more common this time of year.
Speaking of indoor allergies, these are what we refer to as “perennial allergies,” as they can happen any time of year (but are most likely when spending ample time indoors). According to Beverly Hills-based board-certified allergist and immunologist Sherwin Hariri, MD, FAAAAI, FACAAI, perennial allergies include dust mites, mold, pet dander, and feathers, and can cause symptoms, such as stuffiness and itchy eyes, all year-round.
How to treat allergies
Craving a fast-track solution for how to get rid of allergies? “Avoidance is always the best treatment of allergies,” Hariri says. Specifically, what helps with allergies is keeping your distance from the very things that trigger your reactions. For example, if you’re allergic to any form of pollen, it’s best to drive around with your windows up, so as to not let microfine pollen particles fly into your eyes, nose, and mouth. If you’re allergic to pet dander (as tragic as that is), it’s best to steer clear of cats and dogs that shed a lot. (Fortunately, hypoallergenic dog breeds exist, such as American Hairless Terriers, Bichon Frises, and Poodles.)
8 home remedies for allergies
“How do you get rid of allergies naturally?” “What helps relieve allergies fast?” “What is the fastest home remedy for allergies?” These are just a few of the most widely searched questions surrounding seasonal and perennial allergies on Google. While plenty of over-the-counter medications, like nasal sprays and antihistamines, exist, they’re not always on hand—and even if they are, you may crave additional relief. Thankfully, a variety of home remedies for allergies exist. Check out a selection of tried-and-true faves, below.
1. Neti Pot with saline solution
If you hate the sensation of water going up your nose (hi, same!), a Neti Pot is not the right allergy relief solution for you. That said, if you’re unbothered by the sensation, Neti Pots can be nothing short of a godsend for overcoming seasonal and perennial allergies.
“A Neti Pot looks like a teapot and flushes out the nasal passages by pouring saline, or saltwater, solution directly into your nostrils,” Myers explains. “A Neti Pot can help alleviate nasal congestion and reduce the severity of allergy symptoms.”
Ready to give it a try? Consider the SinuCleanse Soft Tip Neti Pot Nasal Wash System ($13).
2. Outfit your bed with your allergies in mind
If you’re allergic to dust mites (and if you live in a particularly dusty city, like New York City), making your bed with protective linens can help. “Dust mites are very tedious to get rid of, no matter how much you dust,” Hariri says. Still, she suggests dusting as often as you can (the Swiffer Duster, $6, will make the process easier than ever) and outfitting your mattress and pillows with dust mite covers. (The AllerEase Waterproof Mattress Protector, $40, and AllerEase Maximum Pillow Protector, $17, are popular picks on Amazon.)
3. Take a shower
Surely you’ve seen how dusty and yellow cars can look after sitting outside during pollen season. If you’re someone who spends a lot of time outdoors in the spring, summer, and fall, your clothes could become just as covered in the microfine allergens—you just likely can’t see it quite as well as you would on a shiny car surface. All this to say, if you’re allergic to pollen and go outside at any point in the day, it’s important to strip out of your clothes, hop in the shower, and slip into fresh PJs before heading to bed each night. Otherwise, you’ll just be sleeping in pollen, exacerbating the problem at hand.
4. Eat local raw honey
Since seasonal allergies are largely caused by plants, consuming local raw honey “may help reduce allergy symptoms by exposing your body to small amounts of pollen,” says Myers. The trick is to buy honey that’s local to your region to ensure it’s the same strain of pollen that you’re being exposed to and triggered by. “This allows your adaptive immune system to recognize the pollen instead of responding with inflammation the way it would a foreign invader,” Myers says. “The adaptive immune system is like a computer and learns to recognize bacteria and viruses over time.”
Just remember: If you have children with allergies, honey may seem like a tasty home remedy for allergies. However, children under the age of one should not consume raw honey, Myers says.
5. Add quercetin supplements to your daily routine
Curious what else you can eat or drink to get rid of allergies? “Quercetin is a natural plant flavonoid that has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, which may help alleviate inflammation caused by pollen,” Myers says. “It can be found in foods such as apples, berries, onions, and green tea.”
6. Take a multi-strain probiotic
Another thing you can drink to treat allergies is probiotics. “Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that live in the gut and promote a healthy immune system response—this helps reduce allergy symptoms,” Myers says, noting that probiotics can be found in fermented foods and supplements. “I recommend everyone take a daily probiotic containing at least 30 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) with multiple stains.”
Need a reco? We dig the Flora Code Flora Dust Probiotic Supplement Powder Packets, ($55 for 30), and Wildwonder Prebiotic + Probiotic Sparkling Drink Sampler Variety Pack ($44 for 12). Prebiotics are also helpful because they are the food that probiotics feed on. So, if you’re looking to stock your diet with prebiotics, too, may we suggest the Poppi Sparkling Prebiotic Soda, ($27 for 12)? The Strawberry Lemon and Raspberry Rose flavors are our faves.
7. Consume vitamin C
You might know that vitamin C is one of the be-all, end-all nutrients for immune defense, not to mention a stellar skincare product, but did you know that it’s also a natural antihistamine? While drinking lots of OJ and consuming vitamin C-rich foods may help boost your immune response, Myers says that most vitamin C on the market is poorly absorbed by the body, making it ineffective. So if your goal is to treat seasonal allergies with vitamin C, she recommends opting for a liposomal form of vitamin C, such as the Amy Myers MD Liposomal Vitamin C ($35).
“A liposome is a tiny fluid-filled bubble, otherwise called a vesicle, made from the same material as a cell membrane,” she says. “The liposome shields the tiny vitamin C micelles from a hostile environment and barriers in your gut that block absorption. When vitamin C travels inside a liposome, it is easier to bypass the digestive process more effectively so it can reach its final destination—your bloodstream.”
8. Use HEPA air filtration
While you can’t control the air quality outside, you can boost it within your home. The trick is to use a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration system. “This type of filter can remove up to 99.97 percent of dust, pollen, mold, bacteria, and any airborne particle of .03 microns [from your home],” Myers says.
A popular HEPA filtration system is the Dyson Purifier Cool™ TP07 Air Purifying Fan ($500), which also works to cool down your space. (Speaking of Dyson, the brand is launching the Dyson Zone Headphones, which not only offer noise-canceling sound, but air filtration on-the-go.)
When to consult a doctor
If you find that allergen avoidance, home remedies for allergies, nor over-the-counter allergy medications work to effectively cure your allergy symptoms, you should book an appointment with your doctor or an allergist. According to Hariri, you may even want to set up an allergen test, which will help to determine what exactly is causing your discomfort in the first place.
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