Allergy-Season Survival Tips

By Clifford W. Bassett, MD FACAAI, FAAAAI Medical Director, Allergy & Asthma Care of NY

Posted on | By Clifford W. Bassett, MD FACAAI, FAAAAI

Due to several years of record-breaking levels of seasonal pollens, it is essential to have an allergy survival plan in place. Why such high levels? Climate change, the rise in worldwide temperatures and greenhouse gases, record amounts of precipitation, and overplanting of male plants have resulted in longer allergy seasons. All these factors have created a perfect storm for those who suffer from seasonal and mold allergies. 

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Stay one step ahead for an allergy-free season! First, you need to know if you have seasonal allergies so you can customize a successful allergen avoidance and management plan. 

Second, many sufferers don’t realize that medications (nasal antihistamines/steroids, oral antihistamines and eye drops) often work better before symptoms take hold. You may actually need less if started before peak allergy periods.

Allergies can take a toll on many areas of your life. Sleep is big one. Allergy sufferers are often sleepy during the day, especially if you are hooked on drowsiness-causing OTC medications or insomnia-causing oral decongestants. Daytime fatigue can actually be caused, in part, as a result of blocked nasal passages that disrupt sleep patterns. That’s what I refer to as "allergy fatigue syndrome."

Get the right treatment to control your seasonal and indoor allergies, so you can breathe better at night and have better quality rest. It’s time to break the cycle, get treated successfully, and sleep better. Eventually, you won’t even need that extra latte!

Here are some allergy survival strategies that I have found to be extremely helpful to allergy sufferers:

Stay Cool: Cool eye compresses may improve appearance and reduce unwanted eye allergy symptoms.

Be a Star: Wear big sunglasses to block pollen entry into your eyes and eyelids, especially on windy days.

Rinse Wisely: Wash your eyelids gently when you wash your face each morning. Shampoo your hair in the evening if you have been out on high-pollen days (or after being outdoors) to remove and wash away unwanted seasonal pollens and molds. This will stop them from landing on your pillow and bed sheets during the night. Change your clothing before entering your bedroom to reduce pollens from being brought into your bedroom.

Wear a Hat: Get a sombrero! Wear a wide-brimmed hat to prevent pollens from landing on top of your head.  

Say No to Hair Gel: Don’t use hair gel and similar hair-care products that can act as “pollen magnets” during the height of allergy season. 

Avoid the Pollen Problem: Consider exercising indoors on very high-pollen days. Higher levels of pollens are usually found on warm, dry and windy days.

Plan Ahead and Know Your Pollen Count: Go to for accurate pollen and mold levels in your area. Pollen levels are typically higher on warm, sunny, dry and windy days, and lower on cooler, moist, wet and “windless” days. 

Mask It: Wear a pollen mask, use gloves and avoid touching your eyes and face. This can really help during gardening or lawn mowing. 

Don’t Line Dry: Never line dry clothing outdoors on high-pollen days, as it will adhere to your linens, towels, etc. 

Avoid Certain Plants and Flowers 

They may be pretty, but it’s better to keep your distance. Many flowers will drive up your allergy symptoms, especially if you really inhale their aroma up close. Avoid the following: Daisies, chrysanthemum, amaranthus, dahlia, sunflower, black-eyed Susan, zinnia, privet and lilac. 

Try an Allergy-Friendly Garden: Plant gladiolus, periwinkle, begonia, bougainvillea, iris and orchid. These plants won’t aggravate your allergies. 

Start Your Allergy Treatment Early: See an allergist for simple, fast, reliable allergy tests so you can get relief.  

Get Shot: Allergy injections are the only immune-based therapy we have that will actually reduce and slow down “allergic disease” progression. It will provide excellent long-term relief in over 85% of patients.

Article written by Clifford W. Bassett, MD FACAAI, FAAAAI
Medical Director, Allergy & Asthma Care of NY