April 24, 2021
It’s nearly impossible to get rid of allergies completely. It’s an unfortunate truth, but that’s just the way it is. Once you develop an allergy, you’re stuck with it—and the only thing you can do is create a proactive allergy relief plan to minimize the impact of allergies on your everyday life.
The good news? There are tons of ways you can fend off allergies, and just as many ways you can treat allergic reactions to make them more manageable.
So, if you need allergy relief, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve compiled a plethora of allergy prevention methods, plus OTC and home remedies that can make living with allergies that much simpler.
What Causes Allergies?
In the simplest of terms, allergies occur when your body notices something that’s not supposed to be there—like pollen or pet dander—but thinks it’s much more dangerous than it actually is. From then on, your body goes into fight mode the moment it notices whatever you’re allergic to, even if it shouldn’t be considered a threat. This triggers the production of antibodies that cause common allergy symptoms.
When it comes to seasonal allergies (caused by triggers like pollen) and other common allergens (like dust mites and mold), allergy symptoms most often take the form of hay fever (a.k.a. allergic rhinitis). This condition can take various forms, but it generally comprises the symptoms you’ve come to expect with allergies, including:
- Runny nose
- Nasal congestion
- Postnasal drip
- Watery eyes
- Itchy skin
- Clogged ears
- Sore throat
Simple Allergy Prevention Measures
Now, before we talk treatment, let’s talk prevention.
Perhaps the best way to mitigate the impact of allergies is to simply minimize how often you encounter your primary allergen(s). So, for example, if you’re living in a moldy home but you’re allergic to mold, you should probably take steps to remove that mold ASAP. Easy enough, right?
The trick is to begin by identifying your allergic triggers, so you know exactly how to avoid them—you’ll naturally have to take different preventative measures if you’re allergic to dust mites rather than pet dander, for example. This may involve visiting a doctor for a professional diagnosis.
Once you know what you’re allergic to, keep the following steps in mind, and give them a shot if you think they might be helpful. Just bear in mind that these tips shouldn’t be considered medical advice, nor are they guaranteed to help.
- Drink plenty of water. Water supports the flow of mucus, so drinking enough may help ease allergy-induced congestion.
- Tweak your diet. Some foods can make your allergies worse, while others can soothe them. Try foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like fish and walnuts.
- Supplement with vitamin C. Histamines are the compounds that (over)work to eliminate allergens from your body—and vitamin C is a natural antihistamine.
- Keep your windows closed. Sure, that breeze might feel nice, but it’s also carrying pollen and a mess of other allergens into your home.
- Clean your home thoroughly and frequently. Regular cleaning can be a hassle, but it’s one of the best ways to get rid of allergens that have attached themselves to furniture and anything else you might touch often.
- Change your clothes once you’re home, and keep your shoes by the door. Even if you’re only outside to walk to and from your car, your clothes and shoes can collect allergens aplenty. Swap them for loungewear or other clean clothes once you’re indoors, and keep your shoes by the door to avoid bringing allergic triggers further into your living space.
- Use an air purifier with a HEPA filter. HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters are designed to remove all sorts of particles from the air—even tiny ones. Just make sure the filter is replaced regularly.
- Humidify and/or dehumidify. A particularly moist environment is often more conducive to allergens like mold, while a dry environment may aggravate sinus inflammation. Leveling out your home’s humidity could help curb your allergies.
- Maintain your home’s HVAC system. If your HVAC system isn’t cleaned regularly, allergens could build up inside its filter and ducts, only to be dispersed throughout your entire home every time your system kicks on.
Relieving Allergies With OTC Medication
However helpful a proactive allergy prevention plan might be, it’s hard to avoid allergens like pollen and mold entirely. That’s where over-the-counter medication comes in handy.
Allergy medication comes in several forms and can be used to treat a wide range of symptoms, though its effectiveness can vary. Here, we’ll cover three of the most common OTC allergy medicine types: antihistamines, decongestants and corticosteroids.
The idea behind antihistamines is to prevent the production of histamine—which, as we mentioned earlier, is an organic compound associated with immune response—so your body doesn’t go haywire the moment it notices an allergen in the vicinity. Antihistamines are available in several forms, including pills, liquids, sprays and eye drops, and may use a variety of active ingredients, like diphenhydramine, cetirizine, loratadine and brompheniramine.
Shop OTC antihistamines:
- Benadryl Allergy Ultra Tabs
- Benadryl Children’s Allergy Oral Solution
- Claritin 24-Hour Non-Drowsy Allergy Relief Tablets
- Claritin 24-Hour-Non-Drowsy Allergy Cool Mint Chewable Tablets
- Zyrtec Allergy Relief Tablets
Decongestants are ingredients that reduce congestion by fighting the dilation of blood vessels in the sinuses. Some OTC allergy drugs combine both antihistamines and decongestants to deliver a more comprehensive allergy defense (you’ll usually find a “-D” at the end of the product name), while others may include both decongestants and pain relievers. Common active ingredients in decongestants include phenylephrine, pseudoephedrine and oxymetazoline.
Shop OTC decongestants:
- Sudafed PE Maximum Strength Sinus Pressure & Congestion Relief
- Afrin Original Nasal Spray
- Advil Sinus Congestion & Pain Tablets
- Tylenol Sinus Severe Capsules
Corticosteroids are a type of steroid hormone formulated to reduce the inflammation often caused by allergies. When it comes to OTC allergy medicine, corticosteroids usually appear as nasal sprays (though other types, like inhalers, may be prescribed).
Popular OTC corticosteroids include:
- FLONASE Allergy Relief Nasal Spray
- Rhinocort Allergy Spray
- Nasacort Allergy 24HR Nasal Spray
Home Remedies and Natural Allergy Relief
Over-the-counter medication isn’t a silver bullet, but it often plays a pivotal role in effective allergy treatment plans. With that said, it’s not the only option at your disposal. Some people prefer to seek natural allergy relief through home remedies. And, as is the case with OTC allergy meds, there are a bunch of options to consider, from acupuncture to herbal tea. It might even be worth trying natural remedies alongside your OTC meds of choice if one or the other doesn’t seem to be doing the trick.
Herbal and Plant Solutions
Certain herbal products relieve allergies naturally. Butterbur, one of the more commonly recommended natural allergy treatments, appears to inhibit the production of leukotriene, an inflammatory substance that’s produced when you come into contact with an allergic trigger.
Stinging nettle is another plant commonly associated with allergy relief, though medical professionals aren’t sure exactly how it works. The plant is sometimes sold in capsules or tinctures, but it’s commonly offered in the form of freeze-dried leaves, which can be cooked into food or steeped in tea.
Essential oils aren’t a miracle cure, but some oils are considered helpful for allergy relief. Lavender oil and peppermint oil, for example, are both common recommendations thanks to their anti-inflammatory properties. Other oils sometimes mentioned in allergy relief talk include eucalyptus and tea tree oil, but you should know that these oils are sometimes known to trigger allergy-like irritation in some people, too—so approach them with care.
Nasal irrigation (or sinus irrigation) is a classic allergy relief method involving the use of saltwater to rinse your nasal passages. It’s pretty straightforward—you mix salt with water, then tilt your head and slowly pour the saline solution through your upper nostril. It drains out your bottom nostril, carrying nasal buildup with it. These rinses are often done with a neti pot, though you don’t have to use one.
Acupuncture is a treatment method that may help allergies, but shouldn’t be treated as a substitution for a medication (though it has been clinically studied). During an acupuncture session, an acupuncturist inserts needles into the body at specific points. This appears to trigger the body’s nervous system and activate the body’s natural healing functions.
What to Do When Nothing Helps Your Allergies
Sadly, taming allergies isn’t always easy, no matter how many home remedies or OTC meds you try. Struggling to deal with severe allergies? It might be time to speak with an allergist, who might be able to provide more specialized care, like immunotherapy shots. Visit your doctor to discuss whether an appointment with an allergist is the right move.
In the meantime, however, Gopuff is here to deliver the OTC solutions you need directly to your door, whenever you need it most. Browse our full stock of OTC allergy meds, place your order and give us a few—we’ll have allergy relief at your door in no time.