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Stay ahead of allergies with these 7 expert tips

(BPT) - Winter may not be over, but now is the time to prepare for spring allergies. As temperatures rise, pollen and other allergens will fill the air, leaving you sneezing and wheezing instead of enjoying sunnier days.

"To prepare for spring allergies, consider starting your medication at least two weeks before symptoms start," says allergist Gailen Marshall, M.D., Ph.D., president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). "For many people, mid-February, around Valentine's Day, is the ideal time to start your allergy medication routine."

The member allergists of ACAAI want to help you stay ahead of allergy symptoms this spring. Check out the organization's top seven tips to help you protect yourself from allergens and reduce allergy symptoms.

1. Close your windows

Although your house may feel a bit stuffy after being closed up all winter, resist the urge to throw open your windows for a breath of fresh air. Leaving your windows open invites allergens like pollen into your home. Instead, keep them closed and run air conditioning to improve airflow and generate a little breeze.

2. Use filters

Even if you're careful to keep windows and doors closed, allergens can still sneak into your home. Invest in High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters for an air cleaner for a single room. Check to see that the filter has a CADR (clean air delivery rate) that matches the size of the room where it will be used. If your home has a central heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system, you can turn it into a "whole house" filtration system by installing a better permanent or disposable air filter. Remember to check and change filters regularly so you can continue breathing easily at home.

3. Change your clothes

Changing into comfortable clothes when you get home can be relaxing and help you manage your allergies. Pollen and other allergens can stick to your clothing, shoes, hats and other accessories. As soon as you get home, ditch your outside clothes for a clean, pollen-free outfit. Also, make it a habit to set these clothes in the laundry room to wash as soon as possible.

4. Add a shower to your evening routine

If you don't shower at night, it may be time to consider a switch. Rinsing off before bed can wash away allergens that cling to your hair, face and body throughout the day. It will also prevent you transferring pollen to your pillow. Best of all, a warm shower before bed can be incredibly relaxing. So, add a shower to your evening routine and wake up refreshed and ready to take on the day.

5. Know your allergy triggers

Do you know your allergy triggers? The causes of your specific allergies can vary. Whether you have pollen allergies or suffer from pet allergens or dust mites, it's a good idea to get tested by a board-certified allergist. They can help take the guesswork out of allergy management so you can better avoid allergy triggers. Also, be aware of when allergy season starts in your region. In southern climates, spring allergy season often begins as early as mid-February and can be in full swing before the first of March. It may be mid- to late March before pollen season starts in colder climates. Check the internet for the specifics of pollen levels near you.

6. Find the right medication

Is your medication effective in managing your allergy symptoms? If not, you might not have found the right match. For example, if antihistamines aren't working, it may be time to give nasal sprays a chance. You may even consider allergen immunotherapy, also known as allergy shots, which can be extremely effective for treating grass and pollen allergies and can help control asthma.

7. Talk to a professional

While there are many steps you can take on your own to keep allergy symptoms at bay, it's always a good idea to talk to an expert. Allergists are the best-trained medical professionals to treat allergies and asthma. They can help you manage allergy challenges, so you're better equipped to deal with them and feel better this spring and beyond.

Using these seven simple tips, you can get ahead and stay ahead of allergies. To learn more about allergies, find an allergist and find more tips to manage your allergies at

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