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Best home-based ways to fight allergies

May 4, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Spring is here, and that means warm weather and sunshine for most of us. But for about 35 million Americans, it means another nasty bout with seasonal allergies. Here are the best home-based ways to snuff out the sniffles.

Carolyn McMillan wants to take her Harley out, but the grasses, trees and allergies keep her stuck in the garage.

"My eyes get really watery, my nose gets runny and it gets hard to breathe," she said.

When over-the-counter remedies failed, she needed more powerful medicine.

"Eye drops, nose drops ... we're on three different kinds of steroids. It's pretty intensive," McMillan said.

According to Dr. Talal Nsouli, a clinical professor of pediatrics and allergy/immunology at the Georgetown University School of Medicine, if you are reacting during the spring, it means you are allergic to trees. If you're reacting during the summer, it means you're allergic to the grasses.

Nsouli used to be the personal allergist to President Bill Clinton.

His first tip is to make your own salt-water nasal spray. It cleans out thick mucus that over-the-counter stuff won't. Plus, it keeps your nose hairs clean, which may fight sinusitis.

The next tip is to eat spicy food. It can thin and drain mucus in your nose.

Nsouli advises anyone allergic to pollen to stay away from bananas, melon and sunflower seeds. They can make standard symptoms much worse.

Experts say add some milk to your kids' diets. New research shows kids with low vitamin D levels had a higher risk of reaction to ragweed and grasses.

Another tip is if you need medication, it's best to start three weeks before allergy season. Plus, experts say too much stress can heighten your allergic response, so do your best to manage stress in your life.