1. Limit your time outdoors
Each spring, trees release billions of tiny pollen grains into the air. When you breathe them into your nose and lungs, they can trigger an allergic reaction. Staying inside can help, especially on windy days and during the early morning hours, when pollen counts are highest.

When you do head outdoors, wear glasses or sunglasses to keep pollen out of your eyes. A filter mask can help when you mow the lawn or work in the garden. Different types are available, so ask your doctor to suggest one that will work best for you.

Once you head back inside, always take a shower, wash your hair, and change your clothing.

2. Take allergy medicine
It can help adults and children with sniffles and a runny nose, Kim says.Antihistamines, which block your body’s response to allergies, usually work in less than an hour. But read the package carefully. Some older drugs, like chlorpheniramine, clemastine, and diphenhydramine can make you drowsy.

For more severe allergies, we suggests a nasal spray. But don’t expect symptoms to vanish right away. “They may take a few days to work,” he says. Since they can have side effects like burning, dryness, or nosebleeds, use the lowest dose that controls your symptoms.

Hot Tip: Switch between drugs if, after several weeks, you find your body stops responding as well to one of the pills.

3. Protect yourself early on
Start taking medicine long before your eyes get watery and you’re sneezing nonstop, at least 1 week before the season begins. That way, the medicine will be in your system by the time you need it.

4. Cleanse your garden
Your worst hay fever foe could be planted right outside your window, warns horticulturalist and author Tom Ogren. Take stock of your plants: if one has fruit or berries, it’s not male and won’t release pollen (female plants don’t produce pollen). If you can’t identify a plant on your own, take a clipping to a nursery for help identifying its gender.

5. Tweak your home
Simple changes make a difference. Shut all windows to keep out pollen. Use an air conditioner to cool your home instead of a fan, which draws in air from outside.

Take off your shoes at the door and ask guests to do the same. That keeps allergens outside.

Clean floors with a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter. These filters trap 99.97% of microscopic particles in the air. And don’t line-dry clothes or sheets in warmer weather! They’ll collect pollen while they hang outside.

Finally, don’t smoke. It can make allergy symptoms worse. If you or someone you live with smokes, now is a good time to quit. If you start smoking again, start over.