Tips For Dealing With Allergies

Disclaimers

Photograph: White & Red Blossoms, Tokyo, Japan, March-April 2005, © Nick Varacalli.I’m not an allergist, doctor, or any other kind of medical practitioner. I’m only posting things that have been helpful for me. Your mileage may vary. I’m not responsible for anything that happens to you if you choose to follow anything written below.

General

My allergies started getting better when I decided to stop being a victim and start dealing with my allergies like I deal with the rest of my life… by trying to optimize them away. If your allergies are really bugging you, attack them with all the intelligence and resources you can muster. You are (most likely) a geek (given that you’re reading my blog) after all.

Environment

  • Keep your sleeping area free from allergens. This includes:
    • Keep your room closed to the outside. Close your door. Close your windows. Use air conditioning.
    • Take a shower before bed. In fact, take a shower as often as possible after you come into contact with allergens.
    • Wash sheets / pillow cases frequently. Throw your pillow in the dryer occasionally.
    • Change and wash your clothes frequently.
    • Use an air filter. Change the filter as specified by the manufacturer.
  • If your eyes get itchy, don’t scratch or rub them. Be aware that you’re doing it, and go wash your face. A cool compress might also help.
  • Recirculate the interior air in your car.
  • Pollen counts are highest from 05:00 to 11:00 in the morning and at dusk. They’re lowest mid-day and after rain. If possible, modify your schedule accordingly. e.g., go for a run at lunch time instead of before work.
  • Wear a hat to prevent pollen from getting into your hair and sunglasses for your eyes.
  • Wipe down pets, children’s toys, strollers, etc. after they’ve been outside.

Medicine

  • See your doctor. If possible, see an allergist. Figure out exactly what you’re allergic to. Knowledge is power.
  • Allergy shots have worked wonders for me.
    • They’re covered under my health plan. Since the injections are done by nurses there’s no co-pay other than to see the actual allergist once a year.
    • You get used to the needles after a while (this from someone who’s really afraid of sharp things / needles / watching ER).
    • It’s quick. It takes about an hour once a week at the beginning, and you can do it early enough in the morning not to miss any work.
    • Have I mentioned that it works wonders? I’m down from about 540 pills last allergy season to 4 so far this season.
  • I find that my allergies peak in the morning. Taking my 24 hour allergy pills in the morning didn’t help. Taking them before bed worked wonders, as they had time to kick in before my peak time. Taking them once any symptoms had started for the day was totally useless.
  • Figure out what dosages, taken when, work for you. Research safe dosages on the internet or with your doctor. Figure out whether it’s best to increase your dosage by taking more pills at once, or by increasing the frequency with which you take pills.
  • Some people recommend saline sinus flushing if you have a nasal congestion / runny nose symptoms. I’ve never tried this for allergies, but have tried it for other congestion and it works nicely. 1 tsp salt in 16 oz warm water, use nasal bulb syringe to flush in nose, tilting head back to get saline up to sinuses, then lean forward and let it run out…3-4x/day.

Other Ingredients

  • Caffeine seems to help. At the very least, the caffeine helps wake me up when I’m groggy due to my allergies.
  • Nettle tea is supposed to be good for allergies. I’ve not noticed.
  • Local honey is supposed to be very good for allergies. I’ve never got around to trying it since my allergy shots have been working very well.
  • Papaya supposedly has enzymes that help break down allergens. I’m not sure it helps, but I’ve grown to like papaya a lot, so I’ve stuck with it.

2 thoughts on “Tips For Dealing With Allergies”

  1. I suspect your efforts at dealing with allergies have not eliminated them per se, merely transfered them to me. grrr.
    Nonetheless, says the man who got sick from the doctor, I will try to incorporate your tips into my own routine, so, thanks.

  2. My allergies have been getting worse over the past couple years. Nick wrote the first draft of this in response to an enquiry from me for advice.

    I was feeling rather desparate the day I emailed him, but in the end, I decided to start with the advice that was easiest for me.

    I started taking my allergy pill before bed. It made a big difference for me. During the weeks when things felt worst, I took a second pill in the morning as well, usually before my first ingestion of solid food.

    The night before trick and the double dosage have kept my allergies in a manageable state. (I have just dropped back to one pill a day again.)

    I would not be willing to close off my bedroom to the outside during warm months unless all else, including shots, failed.

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