Runny nose, scratchy throat, itchy eyes and sneezing are all telltale signs that allergy season is in full swing. Lots of rain and a humid winter have made pollen counts high across the country.
However, there are a few things you can do to ease the discomfort this season, according to Dr. Steven Garner from St. Vincent Catholic Medical Center (search).
Take allergy medicines from the H2 blockers group (search), he said. Newer to the market, drugs like Allegra (search) and Claritin (search) can soften the blow of allergy symptoms without wiping you out altogether.
“They block the histamine receptors and histamine is what makes you feel so bad. What the Benadryl does is block those receptors and makes you drowsy. These just block the receptor,” Garner said.
Another option is a nasal spray, he said.
Some shy away from products like decongestant Flonase (search) and Afrin (search), because they are steroids. However, the steroidal side effects are not severe because the drug is introduced through the nasal passage instead of ingested orally, Garner said.
“You still have to see a doctor but it definitely helps that feeling — the swelling ... you can’t breath,” he said. He also warned that Afrin can only be taken for three days before your body will become addicted to it.
Changing your daily routine may also help, he said.
Avoid going outside between 2 and 4 p.m. — especially on hot, dry days — when pollen counts are highest. Also avoid dogs, which can carry pollen around in their fur. And hairdressers should be careful as well — people can carry pollen in their hair.
Lastly, Garner advised to stay away from allergy shots.
“Allergists are not going to be happy, but [shots are] the last resort — it has complications and can take six years to work,” Garner said.
Click in the video box above for a full report by FOX News' Shepard Smith.