How to treat your allergies without drugs

Follow tips below to find relief naturally

Living in the Sunshine State, where weather is pretty much ideal all year, it’s easy to want to spend time outdoors, but having seasonal allergies can make that difficult.

You’ve probably tried every over-the-counter allergy medication available, but still have a hard time not coming down with a case of the sniffles this time of year.

If you’re sick of taking medication, there are some natural remedies that could bring you some relief.

Without even realizing it, you bring in tiny pieces of the outside world every time you return home. Whether they were tagging along by hitching a ride in your hair or on your skin or sticking to your clothes or shoes, taking a shower right away can help rid you of the little particles you’ve collected while out and about, according to WebMD. Rinsing off will wash away any allergens you would have otherwise allowed to make their way into your home. In the same way, experts also recommend you rinse off your pet if you’ve had them outside on a high-pollen day. Pets can carry or collect some of the dust that could later irritate you.

2. Block them out

Just because you spend the day inside doesn’t mean you’re safe from the outside allergens, experts say. It may be tempting to crack a window or open the garage to get some fresh air while cleaning, but in the same way you don’t want to bring those outside particles into your home with what you wear, you don’t want to invite them in with a gust of wind. WebMD recommends keeping windows closed. Another way to shut allergens out is by taking your shoes off at the door, so those outside particles don’t spread. You can also kindly ask your guests to do the same.

3. Keep the fluids coming

No one likes the stuffiness or occasional postnasal drip that comes with severe allergies, but staying hydrated can help. According to WebMD, having extra liquid in your system from sipping more water, juice and other nonalcoholic drinks can help thin the mucus in your nasal passages and bring some relief. Pro tip: warm fluids, like tea and soup, have the additional benefit of steam.

4. Suck in some steam

Speaking of steam, simply inhaling it can help open up those nasal passages and make breathing a bit easier. WebMD recommends holding your head over a warm bowl or sink full of water and placing a towel over your head to trap the steam. If it’s easier for you, sitting in the bathroom while a hot shower is running will also do the trick for a stuffy nose.

5. Rinse them away

Some people swear by nasal rinses when it comes to easing allergy symptoms. Rinses can flush bacteria and thin mucus, which can help cut down on postnasal drip, according to WebMD. You can probably find a rinse kit that will do the job at your local pharmacy, but WebMD also offers the following instructions if you want to make your own with a neti pot or nasal bulb:

6. Make natural home cleaners

You’ve probably heard that keeping your home clean can help get rid of those indoor allergens, and while that’s true, certain cleaning products could be creating new problems for you. According to WebMD, some of those store-bought cleaning products with harsh chemicals can irritate your nasal passages and worsen your symptoms. Instead, experts recommend you try making your own natural cleaners out of products like lemon, baking soda and vinegar.

7. Apple cider vinegar

Not only does apple cider vinegar work wonders when it comes to cleaning around the house, it can also be useful in the fight against allergies. According to, the sour condiment can help reduce the production of mucus and clean your lymphatic system. If you’re pretty hardcore, you can simply throw back a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. If you need to sip on it slowly, you can try adding it to some warm water or tea and masking the taste with some honey.

Protecting your eyes, nose and mouth from the things that irritate them is obviously important, which is why experts recommend you keep those areas covered. If you know you have to be outside, or in any place you know you won’t be able to avoid allergens, WebMD recommends you wear a mask to cover your nose and mouth to keep those allergens out of your airways. According to the website, an N95 respirator mask, which you can likely find at most drugstores and medical supply stores, will block 95 percent of small particles, like pollen and other allergens. Wearing sunglasses outdoors can also do the same for your eyes.

9. Acupuncture

If your allergies are really weighing you down, you may consider acupuncture. According to multiple health websites, including WebMD, studies have shown that it may help reduce allergy symptoms, but it’s still unclear how. Though many believe the ancient practice can treat a number of health issues, you should talk to your doctor before trying acupuncture.

Of course, no single treatment is a one-size-fits-all solution. If you’ve tried several remedies and still haven’t felt any relief, it’s possible you don’t know exactly what’s causing your symptoms.

It’s important to know your triggers if you’re looking to treat them.

Making an appointment for an allergy skin test can help you narrow it down to the root of the problem so you know exactly what to avoid.

Copyright 2019 by WKMG ClickOrlando – All rights reserved.

Ease seasonal sniffling and sneezing with these effective methods.

How to treat your allergies without drugs

Your allergies are driving you crazy, but you really don’t like to take conventional medications. Or maybe you’ve tried over-the-counter allergy meds—or even prescription ones—but you’re not getting the relief you need. What else might work? Consider these alternative options:

How to treat your allergies without drugs

This is one remedy that both Eastern and Western docs (like your allergist) will likely agree on. Basically all you’re doing is flushing out your sinuses with a saltwater solution, which can help wash away allergens and irritants. To do it, grab a Neti Pot or a large squeeze bottle, like the one made by NeilMed, and fill it with a premixed packet of saline solution (available at drugstores) or make your own solution. To mix it yourself, combine 1 quart of distilled or boiled (then cooled) water; 2 to 3 tsp non-iodized salt (kosher, pickling, canning or sea salt); and 1 tsp baking soda. Put about 8 oz at a time in the Neti Pot or squeeze bottle and tilt your head forward over the sink while you pour/squeeze the solution in one nostril and let it drain out the other. “I tell patients to pant like a puppy, which lifts the palate and closes off the back of the nose so you don’t get that drowning sensation,” says Sezelle Gereau Haddon, MD, an attending otolaryngologist at the Beth Israel Medical Center Department of Integrative Medicine in New York City.

How to treat your allergies without drugs

You might be tempted to pack up the humidifier, but hold off, recommends John Salerno, DO, a family practitioner at Patients Medical holistic wellness center in New York City. “When it’s still a little cool at night and indoor humidity is low, using a cool-mist humidifier can help get allergens out of the air,” he explains. “Water droplets bind to the allergens, and they get heavy and fall to the floor so you don’t inhale them.”

How to treat your allergies without drugs

Using a HEPA filter—especially in the bedroom—is the best way to remove spores and pollen from the air, says Dr. Salerno. Not sure which brand to buy? He likes Austin Air, but also suggests checking out the latest air purifier reviews from Consumer Reports.

How to treat your allergies without drugs

Congested? Dr. Haddon suggests inhaling the steam of essential oils (available at health food stores). She shared this “recipe,” which was given to her by Dale Bellisfeld, RN, AHG: Fill a saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat, take the pan off the stovetop and add 3 drops eucalyptus essential oil, 3 drops rosemary essential oil, 2 drops myrtle essential oil and 2 drops tea tree essential oil. Tent a bath towel over the saucepan (keep your face just far enough away from the steam to avoid burns) and inhale deeply for 5 to 10 minutes. Repeat 1 to 3 times a day.

How to treat your allergies without drugs

You probably associate probiotics—a.k.a. “good” bacteria, like that found in plain yogurt—with digestion, but they also play a role in keeping your immune system well balanced. Since not all strains of probiotics are beneficial for the same thing, Dr. Haddon recommends choosing brands that contain Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, Bifidobacterium lactis and Acidophilus. She likes Pro-5 by Klaire Labs.

How to treat your allergies without drugs

Dr. Haddon admits there isn’t as much science behind this one, but there are no side effects, either. Many of her patients swear that eating local honey (produced near where they live) really works. “The bees eat the pollen that’s in your region of the country, then they produce the honey and you consume that, so it’s kind of like a mini allergy shot,” she says.

How to treat your allergies without drugs

This substance, which is found in the skin of onions and apples, is a natural antihistamine, says Lynne David, ND, a naturopathic doctor and Chinese medicine practitioner at the Center for Integrative Medicine at the George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, DC. You can take it by itself (300 mg 3 times a day during peak allergy season without food), or in a combination product like NOW, which also includes bromelain (from pineapple; also beneficial for allergies). Dr. Salerno recommends a similar combo product, Aller-C, which contains quercetin, bromelain and vitamin C. And Dr. Haddon likes Natural D-Hist, which contains quercetin, stinging nettle leaf, bromelain and N-Acetyl L-Cysteine (an amino acid that helps thin mucus). All these supplements are relatively safe, but check with your doctor first to make sure they don’t interact with other medications you’re taking (antidepressants and thyroid meds in particular may cause a problem).

How to treat your allergies without drugs

This herb, found in many of the combo allergy products noted above, can also be taken by itself in tea form, says Dr. Haddon. To make sure you get enough of the medicinal oils, pour boiling water over the tea bag and cover the cup for 15 minutes to let the oils seep in before drinking.

How to treat your allergies without drugs

Although it’s not exactly clear why, acupuncture may help alleviate allergy symptoms—especially if you start treatment about a month before peak season. Dr. Salerno says it’s possible that stimulating some of the meridians (channels through which energy flows) may help to temper an overactive immune system that can lead to bad allergy symptoms.

How to treat your allergies without drugs

Homeopathy uses very diluted amounts of herb and flower essences. Dr. David recommends two homeopathic remedies (taken orally; you let the tiny tablets dissolve under your tongue) for allergies: Euphrasia, which is especially good for burning, itchy eyes; and Allium cepa, which is good for a drippy nose. She suggests trying one at a time (rather than together) to see which one might work for you.

Last Updated: September 3, 2020 References Approved

This article was co-authored by Zora Degrandpre, ND. Dr. Degrandpre is a Licensed Naturopathic Physician in Vancouver, Washington. She is also a grant reviewer for the National Institutes of Health and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. She received her ND from the National College of Natural Medicine in 2007.

There are 18 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, 100% of readers who voted found the article helpful, earning it our reader-approved status.

This article has been viewed 44,815 times.

Pollen allergies are very common and millions of people experience these every year. While they’re usually harmless, the sneezing, congestion, and sinus pressure from seasonal allergies can be a real drain on your daily life. If you regularly experience bad allergies, then the best thing to do is visit an allergist. They can give you medication or shots to desensitize you to the histamines that cause allergies. However, if you’d like to avoid medication, some natural antihistamines may help. These are rarely as effective as medication and research is mixed, but they may work for you. If you’ve been treating your allergies yourself without any success, then visit an allergist for further treatment.

Allergies happen because the histamines in pollen trigger your body’s immune response, causing congestion and inflammation. A few natural compounds can block those histamines, reduce inflammation, loosen mucous, and relieve your allergy symptoms overall. Try some of the following foods or spices to see if they work for you. If not, then you could take an over-the-counter antihistamine instead for a more conventional treatment.

How to treat your allergies without drugs

\u00a9 2021 wikiHow, Inc. All rights reserved. wikiHow, Inc. is the copyright holder of this image under U.S. and international copyright laws. This image is not licensed under the Creative Commons license applied to text content and some other images posted to the wikiHow website. This image may not be used by other entities without the express written consent of wikiHow, Inc.

How to treat your allergies without drugs

\u00a9 2021 wikiHow, Inc. All rights reserved. wikiHow, Inc. is the copyright holder of this image under U.S. and international copyright laws. This image is not licensed under the Creative Commons license applied to text content and some other images posted to the wikiHow website. This image may not be used by other entities without the express written consent of wikiHow, Inc.

How to treat your allergies without drugs

\u00a9 2021 wikiHow, Inc. All rights reserved. wikiHow, Inc. is the copyright holder of this image under U.S. and international copyright laws. This image is not licensed under the Creative Commons license applied to text content and some other images posted to the wikiHow website. This image may not be used by other entities without the express written consent of wikiHow, Inc.

How to treat your allergies without drugs

\u00a9 2021 wikiHow, Inc. All rights reserved. wikiHow, Inc. is the copyright holder of this image under U.S. and international copyright laws. This image is not licensed under the Creative Commons license applied to text content and some other images posted to the wikiHow website. This image may not be used by other entities without the express written consent of wikiHow, Inc.

How to treat your allergies without drugs

\u00a9 2021 wikiHow, Inc. All rights reserved. wikiHow, Inc. is the copyright holder of this image under U.S. and international copyright laws. This image is not licensed under the Creative Commons license applied to text content and some other images posted to the wikiHow website. This image may not be used by other entities without the express written consent of wikiHow, Inc.

How to treat your allergies without drugs

\u00a9 2021 wikiHow, Inc. All rights reserved. wikiHow, Inc. is the copyright holder of this image under U.S. and international copyright laws. This image is not licensed under the Creative Commons license applied to text content and some other images posted to the wikiHow website. This image may not be used by other entities without the express written consent of wikiHow, Inc.

How to treat your allergies without drugs

\u00a9 2021 wikiHow, Inc. All rights reserved. wikiHow, Inc. is the copyright holder of this image under U.S. and international copyright laws. This image is not licensed under the Creative Commons license applied to text content and some other images posted to the wikiHow website. This image may not be used by other entities without the express written consent of wikiHow, Inc.

In addition to blocking histamines and relieving your allergy symptoms, there are some natural steps you can take to prevent allergies altogether. The following nutrients might boost your body’s immune response and prevent your allergy symptoms from starting. If they don’t work, then speak to an allergist about medications or shots to build your allergy tolerance.

by DailyHealthPost Editorial June 8, 2015

How to treat your allergies without drugs

Spring and summer may mean the end of the winter season and more time spent outdoors in the sun, but they also mean the beginning of allergy season.

For those with seasonal allergies, this makes spring and summer the most dreaded time of year – sufferers experience itchy, watery eyes, a stuffy nose, sneezing, and even difficulty breathing.

Many people with allergies seek relief from over-the-counter allergy medication. But before you reach for the anti-histamines, check out these natural remedies for common allergy symptoms.

1. Butterbur

How to treat your allergies without drugs

Butterbur roots and leaves have a long history of being used to treat grass and pollen allergies. A double-blind trial found that the effectiveness of butterbur isn’t just an old wives tale – it’s not only an affective treatment for allergies, but it’s relatively well-tolerated as well(1).

Just be sure that your butterbur extracts are certified as “PA-free” – the plant itself contains a highly toxic ingredient known as pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which can damage the liver and cause cancer.

2. Quercetin

How to treat your allergies without drugs

Quercetin occurs naturally in onions, green tea, red wine, apples, berries, and several other foods as well. It works by affecting the immune system, preventing it from releasing histamines in response to specific allergens.

An anti-inflammatory, quercetin is effective in dealing not just with allergies, but in inhibiting contact dermatitis and photosensitivity as well(2).

3. Guduchi

How to treat your allergies without drugs

Also known as Tinospora cordifolia, guduchi – a staple in the Ayurvedic pharmacy – has only recently begun to catch on in the west as an allergy medicine, but it’s newfound popularity is not unearned. There’s scientific evidence that guduchi is an effective anti-allergen(3).

4. Stinging Nettle

How to treat your allergies without drugs

Despite the fact that this plant, when untreated, can deliver a chemical “sting” to the skin, when properly processed, stinging nettle extract can effectively inhibit several key inflammatory events that cause the symptoms of seasonal allergies(4).

5. Timothy Grass

How to treat your allergies without drugs

Notable in particular because of it’s safety – even when taken by children – timothy grass can gradually immunize against hay fever(5).

6. Local Organic Honey

How to treat your allergies without drugs

Although scientists still aren’t sure exactly how this works, early trials have concluded that honey can improve allergy symptoms significantly(6).

7. Neti Pot

Finally, there’s the Neti pot – a handy little device that can be used to flush out allergens from the nasal cavity using a saline rinse. It’s recommended that you use the Neti pot twice a day to keep your sinuses clear and healthy(7).

Have you heard someone tell you that their dog has allergies? Has your veterinarian suggested that allergies could be a problem for your dog? Do you suspect that your dog has allergies? If so, then you’ve probably realized that allergies in dogs are not quite as simple as we might wish. For starters, there are several different types of allergies that could be causing your dog’s symptoms.

Types of Allergies in Dogs

Allergies are a misguided reaction to foreign substances by the body’s immune system, which, of course, people and pets can suffer from. There are quite a few different types of allergies in dogs. Skin allergies, food allergies, and environmental allergens all pose challenges for dogs and their owners, and to make things more complicated, the symptoms of all these different types of allergies can overlap.

Skin Allergies

Skin allergies, called allergic dermatitis, are the most common type of allergic reactions in dogs. There are three main causes of skin allergies in dogs:

  1. Flea allergy dermatitis
  2. Food allergies
  3. Environmental allergens

Flea allergy dermatitis is an allergic reaction to fleabites. Some dogs are allergic to flea saliva. This makes affected dogs extremely itchy, especially at the base of the tail, and their skin may become red, inflamed, and scabbed. You may also notice signs of fleas, such as flea dirt, or even see the fleas themselves.

Food allergies and sensitivities can cause itchy skin, as well. The most common places dogs with food allergies itch are their ears and their paws, and this may be accompanied by gastrointestinal symptoms.

Environmental allergens, such as dust, pollen, and mold, can cause an atopic allergic reactions or atopic dermatitis. In most cases, these allergies are seasonal, so you may only notice your dog itching during certain times of the year. As with food allergies, the most commonly affected areas are the paws and ears (but also include the wrists, ankles, muzzle, underarms, groin, around the eyes, and in between the toes).

All skin allergies pose the risk of secondary infection. As your dog scratches, bites, and licks at his skin, he risks opening up his skin to yeast and bacterial infections that may require treatment.

Food Allergies

True food allergies may not be as common as people think, according to AKC Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. Jerry Klein. True food allergies result in an immune response, which can range in symptoms from skin conditions (hives, facial swelling, itchiness), gastrointestinal signs (vomiting and/or diarrhea) or a combination of both. In some rare cases, a severe reaction resulting in anaphylaxis can occur—similar to severe peanut allergies in humans

But what about all of those dogs that are on special hypoallergenic dog food diets?

What most people mean when they say that their dog has a food allergy is that their dog has a food sensitivity, also known as a food intolerance. Food sensitivities, unlike true allergies, do not involve an immune response and are instead a gradual reaction to an offending ingredient in your dog’s food, for example to beef, chicken, eggs, corn, wheat, soy, or milk.

Dogs with food sensitivities can present with several symptoms, including gastrointestinal signs such as vomiting and diarrhea, or dermatologic signs like itchiness, poor skin and coat, and chronic ear or foot infections.

The best way to diagnose and treat a food allergy is to work with your veterinarian to manage your dog’s symptoms and discover the ingredient causing the reaction.

Acute Allergic Reactions

Perhaps the most alarming of all the types of allergies in dogs is an acute allergic reaction. Dogs, like people, can go into anaphylactic shock if they have a severe reaction to an allergen. This can be fatal if not treated.

Bee stings and vaccine reactions, among other things, can cause an anaphylactic response in some dogs, which is why it is always a good idea to keep a close eye on your dog following the administration of any new vaccine, drug, or food item. Luckily, anaphylactic reactions are rare in dogs.

Your dog may also develop hives or facial swelling in response to an allergen. Swelling of the face, throat, lips, eyelids, or earflaps may look serious, but is rarely fatal, and your veterinarian can treat it with an antihistamine.

Symptoms of Allergies in Dogs

The symptoms of allergies in dogs may vary depending on the cause. A dog that goes into anaphylactic shock, for instance, will have a drop in blood sugar followed by shock, which is very different from a skin condition.

In general, however, the following symptoms could be a sign of an allergic reaction.

  • Itchiness
  • Hives
  • Swelling of the face, ears, lips, eyelids, or earflaps
  • Red, inflamed skin
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy ears
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Itchy, runny eyes
  • Constant licking

Some of these symptoms could also be a sign of another condition. Make an appointment with your veterinarian to get an accurate diagnosis and to help your dog start feeling better.

Diagnosing Allergies in Dogs

If you have ever undergone allergy testing, then you know that diagnosing allergies is often complicated.

The first thing your veterinarian may choose to do is rule out any other condition that could be causing your dog’s symptoms. If your veterinarian feels that an allergy is a likely cause, he or she may propose allergy testing to try and determine the cause of the allergen that is causing the reaction. However, keep in mind it may not always be possible to determine the cause of an allergy with testing.

Food allergies are often diagnosed using an elimination diet. A food trial consists of feeding a dog a novel (i.e. one) source of protein and carbohydrate for 12 weeks.

Flea allergy dermatitis is typically the easiest allergy to diagnose. It is usually diagnosed by identifying fleas on your dog’s body and applying a product that kills fleas before they can bite to see if that solves the issues.

Treating Allergies in Dogs

The best way to treat an allergy is avoidance of the cause and allergen. This may or may not always be possible. But, in terms of treatment, it depends on your dog’s type of allergy. For example, the best way to treat flea allergy dermatitis is to kill the fleas, whereas the best way to treat a food allergy or food intolerance is a change in diet.

In addition to any lifestyle changes that might be necessary, your veterinarian may also prescribe an allergy relief medication for your dog that will help control the signs associated with the allergic reaction, such as itching and any secondary skin infections that might have developed as a result of the irritant.

If your dog has a severe allergic reaction, your best course of action is to get him to an emergency veterinary hospital as quickly as possible.

How to treat your allergies without drugs

What Causes Seasonal Allergies?

Airborne agents (known as pathogens or allergens), such as pollen, grass, mold, cedar, ragweed, or even some chemicals, are breathed in. Once they enter our bodies, these allergens start to wreak havoc. The immune system mistakenly sees the pollen as a danger and releases antibodies that attack the allergens and release a chemical called histamine into the nose, eyes, and lungs. Histamine is intended to attack harmful agents and remove them from the body. One of the main things that histamine does is cause inflammation.

The good news is there are many natural remedies you can try to control your allergy symptoms:

1. Cleanse your nose

Pollens adhere to our mucus membranes. Try cleansing your nasal passages with a neti pot, sinus irrigator or nasal oils. Here are some tips on how to safely use nasal irrigation treatments.

2. Manage stress

Stress hormones wreak havoc in the body and especially in the immune system, making seasonal allergies even worse. Consider methods of stress management such as meditation, taking time out for self-care and avoid overcommitting your schedule.

3. Try acupuncture

When allergies are treated with acupuncture, underlying imbalances within the body are addressed. A treatment plan is developed to relieve the acute symptoms of allergies while also treating the root problems that are contributing to the body’s reaction to allergens.

4. Explore herbal remedies

Butterbur is an herb, which comes from a European shrub and has shown potential for relieving seasonal allergy symptoms, acting similar to antihistamines. Quercetin is a nutrient found in onions, apples, and black tea that research has shown to block the release of histamines.

5. Consider apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is purported to boost the immune system, help break up mucus, and support lymphatic drainage. Experts recommend mixing one to two tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with a glass of water and lemon juice three times a day to relieve allergy symptoms. These tips on how best to use apple cider vinegar will provide additional guidance.

6. Visit a chiropractor

By releasing stress on the nervous system, chiropractic care permits the immune system to function more effectively— something all allergy sufferers need. A nervous system without stress functions more efficiently.

7. Detox the body

Often, allergies are worsened by toxins within the body. The liver is a great mediator of inflammation in the body, and when it is working overtime metabolizing our stress, medications, alcohol, and processed foods, allergies can flare up. Detox your body by eliminating fried foods, sugar, alcohol and other toxins from your diet. Try liver supportive foods and herbs such as milk thistle, turmeric, artichoke, citrus fruits and nuts.

8. Take probiotics

Allergies are the result of an imbalance in the immune system that causes the body to react too strongly to stimuli. Many studies link the presence of beneficial bacteria in the gut with reduced incidence of allergies. Probiotics can help stimulate production of immune enhancing substances, hinder growth of pathogenic and boost the immune system.

9. Add essential oils

Adding essential oils to a bath, cup of tea, massage oil, or an oil diffuser can help reduce allergy symptoms. Peppermint, basil, eucalyptus, and tea tree oils have been linked to fight inflammation and boost the immune system . Essential oils for allergies will help to detoxify the body and fight infections, bacteria, parasites, microorganisms and harmful toxins.

10. Clean the house

Regular house cleaning can get rid of many allergy triggers and help relieve your symptoms. Clean or change out the air filters in your home often. Also, clean bookshelves, vents, and other places where pollen can collect. Vacuum carpets and change pillowcases a couple times each week. Cleaning air purifiers is an important step not to overlook. Change your pillowcase regularly – allergens can transfer from your hair to your pillow on a nightly basis.

Do you suffer from seasonal allergies? Do you have any homeopathic and natural allergy relief ideas you want to share with the Sedera Health Community? We want to hear from you!


Disclaimer: The content on this site is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Treating Both the Cause and Symptoms

Daniel More, MD, is a board-certified allergist and clinical immunologist. He is an assistant clinical professor at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine and currently practices at Central Coast Allergy and Asthma in Salinas, California.

Corinne Savides Happel, MD, is a board-certified allergist and immunologist with a focus on allergic skin disorders, asthma, and other immune disorders.

There are several different classes of drugs used to treat allergy symptoms. The most common include antihistamines, nasal steroid sprays, and antileukotrienes such as Singulair (montelukast).

Each of these medications has a different mechanism of action. Some may be used to treat acute symptoms while others aim to achieve longer-lasting relief. The choice depends largely on the types of symptoms you have as well as their severity.  

How to treat your allergies without drugs

Steroid Nasal Sprays

Nasal sprays are most effective for treating symptoms of allergic rhinitis (hay fever). Inhaled corticosteroid drugs open the nasal passages so that you can breathe easier.

They are also effective in treating non-allergic rhinitis and may even benefit people with eye allergies.

Some of the more commonly prescribed steroid nasal sprays include:

  • Beconase AQ (beclomethasone)
  • Flonase (fluticasone)
  • Nasacort AQ (triamcinolone)
  • Nasarel (flunisolide)
  • Nasonex (mometasone)
  • Rhinocort Aqua (budesonide)

While effective, nasal sprays do not treat the underlying allergy but rather alleviate the nasal symptoms. Persons with allergic rhinitis tend to get the best response if they use the spray on a daily basis. Moreover, they would need to use the spray for around two weeks before they achieve the full effect.

Side effects may include headaches, sore throat, cough, nasal dryness, nausea, and muscle or joint pain.

These are just some of the things you will need to consider before starting treatment. If you are not the type who can adhere to daily treatment, you may need to explore other options such as antihistamines.  

Oral Antihistamines

Oral antihistamines are an effective way to treat all forms of mild to moderate allergy.

This class of drug suppresses histamine, the chemical produced by the immune system that triggers allergy symptoms. Older-generation drugs such as Benadryl (diphenhydramine) are used less commonly today because of their sedating effect.  

Newer-generation drugs largely avoid this and include:

  • Allegra (fexofenadine)
  • Claritin and Alavert (loratadine)
  • Clarinex (desloratadine)
  • Zyrtec (cetirizine)

Antihistamines work quickly, usually within an hour or so, and can be used on an as-needed basis. Side effects may include dry mouth, drowsiness, dizziness, restlessness (mostly in children), difficulty urinating, blurred vision, nausea, vomiting, and confusion. Side effects tend to be mild (particularly in newer generation antihistamines) and resolve within an hour or two.

If you are prone to experiencing breathing problems during an allergy attack, you should be evaluated by a physician to determine whether you need a rescue inhaler or other medications to help with breathing.  


Antileukotrienes are allergy medications that work similarly to antihistamines but, rather than blocking histamine, block inflammatory compounds known as leukotrienes.

The antileukotriene drugs currently approved in the U.S. are:

  • Accolate (zafirlukast)
  • Singulair (montelukast)
  • Zyflo CR (zileuton)

Antileukotrienes can be used to treat both asthma and allergy but in some cases do not suffice on their own. As such, they are usually prescribed in combination with other drugs such as antihistamines or oral steroids.

While antileukotrienes may be effective in alleviating congestion, they are less helpful in easing nasal symptoms. Side effects may include headaches, stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea, toothache, fatigue, sore throat, hoarseness, cough, and mild rash.  

Singulair also comes with a black box warning due to the fact that it may have dangerous psychiatric side effects.

You may be able to minimize the impact of seasonal allergies by building your body’s defenses against them. Find out more about your immune system and allergies.

How to treat your allergies without drugs

How to treat your allergies without drugs

If you have seasonal allergies, chances are you’ve spent plenty of time cruising drugstore aisles looking for relief from allergy symptoms. You know just how wide a variety of medications there are — both over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription — for seasonal allergies. What’s less well known is that you may also be able to get allergy relief by building up your defenses against them. Check out these tips to enhance your immune system and send allergies packing.

Fight Allergies With Immunotherapy

How to treat your allergies without drugs

Immunotherapy is the only way to truly change the way your immune system and allergy response to allergens like pollen and ragweed, explained Michael Mardiney, Jr., MD, an allergist at MD Mercy Hospital in Baltimore. People who are treated with immunotherapy receive injections containing the substances they are allergic to, in increasing amounts once or twice a week. This desensitizes the immune system over time. Immunotherapy is usually the best treatment when your seasonal allergy symptoms occur year-round or when you don’t have enough success with allergy medication.

Fight Allergies With Meditation

How to treat your allergies without drugs

Research has shown that high levels of stress can worsen existing allergies, possibly by upsetting the balance of substances in your body that control immune response. “If you’re under stress, allergies are going to be a bigger problem,” said Joseph Leija, MD, an allergist with Loyola University Health System in Chicago. Some studies have found that meditation has a positive effect on stress levels and can even reduce anxiety and pain. So go ahead and give it a try — even if it doesn’t improve your allergy symptoms much, you’ll probably feel more relaxed, and that’s never a bad thing.

Fight Allergies With a Pro-Health Lifestyle

How to treat your allergies without drugs

Logging hours at the gym and eating your vegetables aren’t going to cure or completely prevent seasonal allergies. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can certainly minimize the effects of allergy symptoms though, as well as a host of other conditions. “If someone is in great shape, exercises, and does all these great things, they can withstand the impact of allergies better than someone who’s got all kinds of other problems,” Dr. Mardiney noted. One word of caution, though: If you are sensitive to outdoor allergens like pollen, you may want to take your exercise routine indoors when levels are at their highest, or take your allergy medication before you start out.

Fight Allergies by Controlling Your Surroundings

How to treat your allergies without drugs

While it doesn’t necessarily help your body fight off seasonal allergies, creating an environment to minimize allergens is a good, medicine-free way to keep allergy symptoms at bay. This could include using an air conditioner for temperature control instead of opening a window or wearing protective gear when you must be outside. “When you’re gardening, use a mask to protect yourself as much as possible,” Dr. Leija advised. “Then when you come inside, wash your hair and change your clothing.”

The word rhinitis means “inflammation of the nose.” The nose produces fluid called mucus. This fluid is normally thin and clear. It helps to keep dust, debris and allergens out of the lungs. Mucus traps particles like dust and pollen, as well as bacteria and viruses.

Mucus usually drains down the back of your throat. You’re not aware of this most of the time because it is a small amount and is thin. When the nose becomes irritated, it may produce more mucus, which becomes thick and pale yellow. The mucus may begin to flow from the front of the nose as well as the back. Substances in the mucus may irritate the back of the throat and cause coughing. Postnasal drip occurs when more mucus drains down the back of the throat.

What Causes Rhinitis?

Irritants or allergens (substances that provoke an allergic response) may cause rhinitis. The cells of your body react to these irritants or allergens by releasing histamine and other chemicals. Rhinitis is often a temporary condition. It clears up on its own after a few days for many people. In others, especially those with allergies, rhinitis can be a chronic problem. Chronic means it is almost always present or recurs often. Rhinitis can last for weeks to months with allergen exposure.

What Are the Types of Rhinitis?

There are several types of rhinitis:

  • Allergic rhinitis is caused by allergies to substances called allergens.
  • Seasonal allergic rhinitis is sometimes called “hay fever.” But, people with seasonal allergic rhinitis do not have to have a fever and do not have to be exposed to hay to develop this condition. It is an allergic reaction to pollen from trees, grasses and weeds. This type of rhinitis occurs mainly in the spring and fall, when pollen from trees, grasses and weeds are in the air.
  • Perennial allergic rhinitis is caused by allergens that are present all year long. The primary causes of this type of rhinitis are allergies to dust mites, mold, animal dander and cockroach debris.
  • Non-allergic rhinitis is not caused by allergens. Smoke, chemicals or other irritating environmental conditions may provoke non-allergic rhinitis. Hormonal changes, physical defects of the nose (like a deviated septum) and the overuse of nose sprays may also cause it. Sometimes medications cause it. Often, the cause of this type of rhinitis is not well understood. But it is common in patients with non-allergic asthma. The symptoms are similar to allergy symptoms.
  • Infectious rhinitis is possibly the most common type of rhinitis. It is also known as the common cold or upper respiratory infection (URI). Colds occur when a cold virus settles into the mucous membranes of the nose and sinus cavities and causes an infection.

What Are the Symptoms of Rhinitis?

Rhinitis symptoms include:

  • Itching in the nose and eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Stuffy nose (congestion)
  • Runny nose
  • Mucus (phlegm) in the throat (postnasal drip)

Is It Allergies or a Cold?

Sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference between allergies and the common cold. There are more than a hundred strains of cold viruses. Each tends to become widespread at certain times of the year, which is why you may mistake a cold for a seasonal allergy. Allergies occur at the same time every year and last as long as the allergen is in the air (usually 2-3 weeks per allergen). Allergies cause itching of the nose and eyes along with other nasal symptoms. Colds last about one week and have less itching of the nose and eyes.

What Are the Treatments for Allergic Rhinitis?

The first and best option is to avoid contact with substances that trigger your nasal allergies (allergens). When prevention is not enough, consider using over-the-counter or prescription medicines:

  • Antihistamines are taken by mouth or as a nasal spray. They can relieve sneezing and itching in the nose and eyes. They also reduce a runny nose and, to a lesser extent, nasal stuffiness.
  • Decongestants are taken by mouth or as a nasal spray or drops. They help shrink the lining of the nasal passages which relieves nasal stuffiness. These nose drops and sprays should be taken short-term.
  • Nasal corticosteroids are used in nasal spray form. They reduce inflammation in the nose and block allergic reactions. They are the most effective medicine type for allergic rhinitis because they can reduce all symptoms, including nasal congestion. Nasal corticosteroids have few side effects.
  • Leukotriene receptor antagonists block the action of important chemical messengers other than histamine that are involved in allergic reactions.
  • Cromolyn sodium is a nasal spray that blocks the release of chemicals that cause allergy symptoms, including histamine and leukotrienes. This medicine has few side effects, but you must take it four times a day.

Nasal allergy symptoms may disappear completely when the allergen is removed or after the allergy is treated. Talk to your pharmacist and health care provider about what is best for you.

Many people with allergies do not get complete relief from medications. They may be candidates for immunotherapy. Immunotherapy is a long-term treatment that can help prevent or reduce the severity of allergic reactions and change the course of allergic disease by modifying the body’s immune response to allergens.

How Can I Prevent Allergic Rhinitis?

The first and best option is to avoid contact with allergens. Other prevention tips are:

  • Don’t touch or rub your nose.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  • Use a vacuum with a CERTIFIED asthma & allergy friendly® filter to reduce allergen exposure while vacuuming.
  • Wash your bed linens and pillowcases in hot water and detergent to reduce allergens.
  • Use dust-mite proof covers for pillows, comforters, duvets, mattresses and box springs.
  • Keep pets out of the bedroom to reduce pet dander allergen in your bedding.
  • Wear sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat to reduce pollen getting into your eyes.
  • Keep windows closed during high pollen and mold seasons. Use the air conditioner in your car and home (CERTIFIED asthma & allergy friendly® filter).