The weather is warm; the flowers are in bloom. You can not wait to get outside and enjoy the sunshine after a long, cold winter inside. Even your dog is excited to smell the new smells and roll in the fresh grass. After only a few minutes outside, your eyes are watering, your nose is running, and your head is pounding like a Keith Moon drum solo. Is there anything that will relieve your misery? If it is any consolation, you are not alone in your suffering. Over one in five people suffer from allergic rhinitis (hay fever). Symptoms can be mild or debilitating, and are usually worse during the warmer months, though many people suffer from hay fever all year. Indoor allergens such as dust mites or pet dander and outdoor allergens such as pollen or grass can cause a reaction. Before heading to the drugstore for allergy medication or to your doctor’s office for allergy shots, try these easy steps to minimize your misery.

Avoid Mowing the Lawn

If at all possible, do not cut grass or rake leaves. Both of these activities propel pollen into the air and will aggravate symptoms quickly. Hire a lawn care service or find a neighborhood teenager looking to make some money over the summer.

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Wear a Mask

If you have to cut the grass or perform other yard work, wear a mask. Simple cloth masks are easy to find, easy to use, inexpensive, and will block many of the allergens that cause your symptoms.

Keep Doors and Windows Closed

While it is refreshing to sleep with the windows open on a nice, cool, spring night, and it is fun to tool around town with the top down on your convertible, such activities will increase your exposure to allergens.

Check Your Filters

Check the filters in your home heating and air conditioning units often. Clean or replace the filters regularly. If possible, use a filter that is specifically designed to remove allergens, such as HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter.

Use your Dryer

Hanging your laundry outside may leave your clothes smelling fresh and clean. However, it will also cover your clothes and sheets in a layer of pollen. When washing sheets or blankets, use hot water to, thoroughly, remove all allergens.

Wrap Your Bed

The average bed contains anywhere from 10,000 to 100,000 dust mites. If that thought has your skin crawling, purchase allergy-proof covers for your mattress, box springs, and pillows. Wash all bedding at least once each week.

Pick Your Battles

Pollen counts are at their highest early in the morning. If possible, limit outdoor activities, at this time of day. Also, dry, windy days stir up the pollen in the air. Stay indoors and avoid this irritant.

Clear Your Carpeting

Vacuum all carpets and rugs at least once each week. Consider purchasing a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to remove even more irritants. You may want to consider removing your carpeting completely, or at least remove it from your bedroom. Carpets and rugs trap dust and pet dander, and are more difficult to clean than solid surface flooring.

 Keep the Kitchen Clean

Wash dishes and remove trash daily. Dirty dishes and day-old garbage attract cockroaches, another source of allergens.

Man’s Best Friend

To keep pet dander to a minimum, pick a poodle, or other short haired dog. Wash your pet at least once each week. Not only will he smell good, he will also be less likely to start your sneezing.