How Do You Make It Through the Pollen Season?

Updated on March 14, 2016
C.T. asks from Red River, NM
24 answers

I am looking for advice. I have terrible pollen allergies that started in my late 20s and get worse every year. I went to an allergist and got tested and found out I am highly allergic to just about every plant he tested for (grasses, trees, you name it). I am also mildly allergic to dust mites and mold. I suffer from headaches and migraines and I think it must be related. I have tried many different allergy meds that you can buy at the grocery store over the years and none are that great. For the last 15 years I have been taking Zyrtec every day bc it seemed to work better than others. Unfortunately, the last few years it seems like Zyrtec hardly does anything when the really strong spring pollens attack! The doctor gave me a prescription nose spray and prescription eye drops that help a little bit but too much. He had me go through months of injections to try to get rid of my allergies but it turns out I am a highly sensitive person and kept having reactions to the injections (very unpleasant). It means I am someone who will never be able to reach a maintenance dose. My sister said to give up grains and dairy to get rid of allergies and I tried this last year but it didn't do anything. I tried for 5 weeks and it was hard...I can't imagine eating that way all the time. This week the tree pollen hit with a vengeance and I really felt like death a couple days ago and was also suffering from a terrible sinus headache. It was so bad...I could not function at all. A neighbor recommended Claritin D that you get behind the counter at the pharmacy. So I bought some and took it and my horrible allergy symptoms and headache went away! Yes! I can't believe it bc nothing else I've tried has worked this well. But this drug is so strong...I feel spacey and sleepy. I guess I'd rather feel sleepy than be in awful life draining pain from allergies. I'm writing you all to ask what you have found that helps you. And...if you have ever tried Claritin D how did it affect you? I am hopeful now that perhaps I can find something that will work without the sleepy side effects.

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So What Happened?

Thank you so much everyone. I have gotten some good ideas to try. I am highly's really bad. I decided although Claritin D works to get rid of my symptoms it just is too strong and makes me feel too weird. I don't want to feel drugged every day. I tried the local honey thing for a couple years but it did nothing. I always buy locally made honey anyway. I was thinking about it after I realized it just did nothing for me and the problem with eating local honey is that I am allergic to the pollen from trees and grasses. Bees do not gather nectar from trees and grasses! Bees make honey using nectar from flowers. Also, they don't use pollen to make the honey...just nectar. They do spread pollen from flower to flower but they do not use any pollen in making the honey. Also, the pollen in flowers is known to not usually cause allergies in most people. That's just my theory on why it did not help me. I do still put local honey in my tea though bc I like it.

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answers from New York on

I test reactive to all trees all grasses flowers soy chocolate almonds and cherries. Thankfully and for no apparent reason my allergies have subsided. Meanwhile while they were bad, I would take 1/2 doses of genetic Benadryl throughout the day. It was enough to help me function and not leave me in a fog. I'd take one right before bed and also first thing in the morning not even waiting to see if the symptoms would hit that day. It was easier to stave off a reaction than to quell one.

Also I wear no make up or hair product. I wash my face and neck every time I use the restroom, and my hands up to my elbows. I keep my hair off my face and drink lots of water as the antihistamines are drying.

F. B.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Amarillo on

I take the Claritin gel tab (24 hr non drowsy) and Flonase in morning. My doctor pulled me off of Claritin D. This combination works well for me in my area of the state with blooming flowers and blowing dirt. It has take several years of trial and error to find something that works for me. Zyrtec did not work and Singulair was too strong. I also take Advair for other health issues and they do not clash and work well.

I hope you find something soon that works for you short of moving out of state.

the other Suzane

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

I also tested allergic to the world! Started using essential oils a few years ago and fell in love. Each season gets easier for me. I believe the oils are building up my defenses. My entire family now uses them. Some people think it's weird, and I used to be afraid to tell people, but then I thought it's not fair not to! There are small kits you can try, let me know if you're interested and I'll walk you through it! Better than using anything with a D. That's either going to wire you us or knock you out! At least that's what it did for me! 😊

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Dallas on

ETA: as someone pointed out, I don't mean switch up daily on the meds. I mean as you finish a bottle of one, have the next bottle be the other one you use.

We take the Costco (Zyrtec) daily.

If not, ny daughter will have a full blown sinus infection every season.

Since we started this, no more sinus infections.

Our pedi suggested alternating with Claritin and Zyrtec. When allergies are at the worst, we alternate Claritin D and Zyrtec D. This seems to help so you don't get immune to the specific drug.

I've also started implementing essential oils with my daily habits. I've only been doing it about a month so no certain results at this point.

Best wishes, I know it's tough. Our yard is full of cedar elm trees and that's the main one that affects us.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I am only sensitive for a few weeks and like you, this appeared when I was an adult. No problems as a kid or teen. I take Claritin. That's what my doctor said to try. I don't sneeze or have watery eyes or really appear to have allergies so much as I get a terrible sinus infection. I use the Nasal Spray they prescribe too.

My husband swears by Netti pots. He is very allergic in general to stuff and he seems to think this cleans out his nasal cavity and nose. It's gross but he does seem better off for using it. Inexpensive. Also, our doctor recommended it.

My son has the actual allergies and to dust mites. He uses the spray daily (has to be daily, not just when you have symptoms). And he takes just a no-name allergy pill now. I cannot dry his clothes outside on the line or his sheets or towels. We also have a hepa filter on our air exchange system, he has no rugs in his room, and I have a special vacuum with the hepa filter that is supposed to help. This year I plan on buying an air purifier for his room. We don't open the windows in his room.

I felt totally spaced out on any allergy medication. So I take 1/2 a pill. In fact, I was told that by spacing out half the medication and then taking the other half an hour later can help with that spaced out feeling. I think there are time release ones too that are supposed to be better.

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answers from Chicago on

Back in high school one of my friends had horrible allergies.
Not sure what medication she took, but she had HEPA air filter in her room. It was pretty high grade one, but helped her tremendously.
The tricky part was that she had to keep her bedroom windows and door shut 24/7 in order for it to be effective.

I also bought one in college. I was able to keep my doors and windows shut all the time. It was wonderful!

But very hard to use when you have kids.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

it sucks to have allergies this bad. and you're already in a state where the allergy rate is pretty low, aren't you? out here on the east coast they're just horrid. even i feel it at this time of year when the tree pollen goes nuts, and i don't have allergies, really.
you've already tried most of the stuff i'd have suggested. i'd add local honey to your repertoire, but while i find it helps (and helped my younger who has godsawful allergies) it's by no means a cure-all.
my husband has had fluid in his head for months now (and refuses to go to an ENT, grrr grrrr). the only thing that gives him relief is the claritin-D, which is a huge PITA because you practically need a pat down and FBI background check to get it.
it made him sleepy at first but once his body adjusted to it, it works well. takes care of the fluid and he can function well on it.
i'm perturbed that he's on medication all the time for something i suspect is fixable, but it sounds like it might be exactly what you need. try it for a good few weeks and see if you get past the zombie stage.
good luck, hon.
ETA i load up on optique eye drops for my kid at this time of year. it's by boiron, and i know homeopathics aren't well-regarded around here, but even my son the scientist loves it for his itchy watery eyes. you don't mention if you suffer from that too, but if you do, give 'em a whirl. khairete

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Claritin D is really just Claritin (loratadine) combined with pseudoephedrine, the active ingredient with Sudafed. For many people Sudafed is a stimulant but some people do have an opposite reaction where it makes them sleepy. For me, I can't take it before bed because it will keep me awake. may want to try just the Claritin and just the Sudafed separately to see which particular ingredient is working and which one is making you feel loopy. It may be that you are responding well to the Sudafed part or the Claritin part but not the other one and in that case, you can get the non-combined drug and boost your regimen with the one that worked. For me, Sudafed is the miracle drug that clears my migraines so hopefully you can continue to take it and get relief.

You sound like my oldest son, whose spring pollen season is misery. He has rotated through Allegra, Claritin, and Zyrtec, both the straight versions and the "D" versions (with the decongestant added in) and often takes one brand in the morning and another brand at night. None of them is effective for him all the time but they do help knock down the symptoms a bit. I keep them all in stock so that when one stops working or he needs to double up, he has another one ready to go. He also takes regular old Benadryl at night, uses a nasal spray and eye drops, showers before bed to wash pollen out of his hair, and changes his pillow cases regularly.

Supposedly eating local honey can help with pollen allergies, and my chiropractor has flower and tree antigen drops (homeopathic drops) that are supposed to help with allergies but they were so gross I could never get him to take them.

Good luck to you - I see how miserable my son gets and wish I could just make it all go away for him.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Everyone reacts differently. I am opposite of you. Zyrtec puts me to sleep and Claritin does nothing for me. Allegra works best of the antihistamines for me.

But nasal steroids work best of all for me. But you have to do it as a preventive and use it every single day during allergy season - which may be most of the year for you. How long did you try the prescription nasal spray for? Keep in mind that you need to use it everyday for 2 weeks for it to start to work.

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answers from Norfolk on

Glad you finally found something that works for you!
Yeah I use to think local honey might help but they did a study on it and found that although it didn't hurt anything - it didn't help anything either.
When the pollen is super thick in the spring (like my car is yellow with it in the morning), I keep my windows closed, shower after being outside and use a neti pot to rinse my nose out.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

As TF/Plano says, you get accustomed to one med and it stops being as effective so you have to switch them up. Not alternating days... but like alternating months or something. You will have better results with OTC that way. Claritin never did anything for my son. But Allegra and Zyrtec, when alternated as they lost efficacy seemed to help.
(He did successfully complete injections, and doesn't take anything anymore on a regular basis... prior to that, he lived on OTC every single day for years, year round).

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

I go to a family owned pharmacy, not a chain one. I ask the pharmacist to order Children's Liquid Sudafed for me, not the fake Sudafed, but real brand name Sudafed. I have used the generic Sudafed and it's okay too, just don't get the fake Sudafed. It doesn't work.

I think my pharmacist orders it from Rugby, but that might have been the generic one.
NDC 50580-536-04

I take half of the adult dose and it opens my sinuses up and I can breathe again. It makes the mucus runny so the goo goes where it's supposed to go. This also keeps my from having so many allergy attacks since it's basically rinsing my sinuses out all the time.

WHEN I'm having an allergy attack, itchy eyes, itchy nose, itchy sinuses, etc..I take half the adult dose of liquid Benadryl. Why take a massive dose of something when half a dose works?

Using liquid allows me to take 1/4 dose, 1/2 dose, or a full dose if I need to.

I keep Children's Liquid Sudafed and Children's Liquid Benadryl in my purse at all times. This way no matter where I am I can take some if I need it.


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answers from San Francisco on

I don't have allergies but people I know that do swear by raw, local honey, at least for the pollen (natural antibodies specific to the pollen in your area.) They sell it at our farmers market and in the health food stores.

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answers from Milwaukee on

How did you do with the intranasal spray? Was it a steroidal spray? For allergic symptoms like you have, it is considered the 1st line therapy, and is the most effective when used as prescribed (which may mean using it a number of weeks prior to allergy season starts, or year-round, depending on where you live & what type of allergies you have).

The reason the nasal spray is preferred over oral medication is that the active ingredients are applied directly to the site where the immune system flares up in an allergy attack. Oral medications need to go through your entire system, and can't be 100% selective for your nose, so they can cause side effects, specifically drowsiness or agitation.

You can also combine nasal sprays with oral medications, if you find that both work partially, to get a combined effect, & maybe take one of the oral meds that doesn't cause as much drowsiness.

On a personal level - my husband has allergies (some seasonal, & also pet - we have 4 dogs!) and he takes loratadine (generic claritin, without the D) in the evening. He finds it helps with 75-90% of his allergy symptoms, and any drowsiness from it is not an issue because he is going to bed. It is also one of the less-sedating allergy medications available.

I would talk to your allergist & even local pharmacist about different prescription antihistamines that are available, often they can be more potent & selective than what you can get over the counter. Best of luck! T. :)

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answers from Portland on

Both my grandaughter and I have seasonal allergies. I've also had food, dust and other environmental allergies. Pollen allergies can affect my granddaughter's asthma. She regularly sees an allergist. She is currently taking the generic form of Allegra. She has taken other forms of long lasting new generation of antihistamines. I've taken Claritin. Claritin is no stronger than Allegra. It is just a different antihistamine. My doctor advised against taking Claritin D. The D stands for decongestant. When Claritin is efficiently working, we are not congested. We can added a decongestant when we are congested. The decongestant adds another layer of possible side affects.

How long did you take the Claritin D? It takes time for our bodies to adjust to the medication; perhaps 2-3 weeks. I would ask your doctor/allergist about this.

Both my granddaughter and I have found that some work better than others. Her allergist tried different ones and found Allegra helped my granddaughter best. If it's positive effects lessen, her doctor will change anthistamines.

I only use fluticasone propionate nasal spray now. As I get older I'm less sensitive to allergens. In my youth, we didn't have long term, non drowsy anthistamines. I had relief from congestion and headaches using the original Sudafed. I continued to use it during flare ups in addition to an earlier non drowsy, long term antihistamine. I think the earliest long term antihistamine is no longer used. I suggest asking your allergist if you can use something else in conjunction to Claritin when symptoms are worse. My granddaughter takes generic Benedryl when her eyes water and get puffy on the adevice of her allergist. She says it doesn't make her drowsy. It does make me drowsy. Infrequently, I get hives. I then take generic Benedryl on the advice of my doctor.

I would take Claritin if it reduced my symptoms. Talk with your allergist about your concern about strength. I've not heard that a greater strength is unhealthy. I do know that Claritin is no stronger than any of the other long term antihistamines. Each of the different brands do have chemical differences.

I would also ask about supplementing the long term antihistamine with a fast acting short term anthistamine when symptoms increase.

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answers from Philadelphia on

I had allergy shots for years. I was allergic to 10 of the 12 grasses/trees etc. and 11 of the 12 molds/mites. I stopped the injections when after I went into anaphylaxis shock but I too suffered from the shots themselves. I would get golf ball size swelling at the injection sight despite my doctor breaking the shot into 3 different injections.

I can say that using saline spray daily has at least cut back on the number of sinus infection I had. Also, I really think I grew out of many of the allergies I once had and they are not as severe. I hope that happens for you. Allergies are miserable. Good luck!!

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answers from San Francisco on

Have you ever tried acupuncture?

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answers from Boston on

In addition to figuring out which medicine works for you, I'd suggest lots of preventative measures.
- The bedroom needs to be a breathing sanctuary. No curtains, rugs, decorative pillows or anything that can't be washed and dried on high heat weekly. The bed and pillows should be enclosed in dust mite covers. Windows need to be closed. This last one makes me very sad. But it's necessary.
-If you can get everyone to leave their shoes in a basket near the door, so much pollen would be reduced in the house.
-Besides washing your hands and face often, consider gently wiping your eyelashes with a wet kleenex. A school nurse taught me this one. Our eyelashes are effective dust catchers and they get overloaded in pollen season.
-If you shower in the morning, consider showering when you get home or before bed.

All my best.

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answers from Washington DC on

LOCAL unpasteurized honey. Take a teaspoon every day - your body will adjust.

I still have allergies - but not as bad as they were. I love my honey.

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answers from Phoenix on

Acupuncture!! My husband went through exactly what you are going through and finally tried acupuncture and it worked!

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answers from Boston on

I found that it helps to understand that allergies are an autoimmune system response. The body is reacting to something that should be harmless but is being "mis-read" as a threat. I was a lot like you but not as bad, and I have a friend who was worse. She was tested at the allergist and was allergic to everything except 4 trees - so she was tested on something like 60 things, and was positive for 56. She lived on shots, prescription meds and OTC meds, and still walked around with a box of tissues under her arm. She went nowhere if the people had dogs or cats. And so on. Her son was on a nebulizer 3 weeks out of 4 when he was a year old - it was a horrendous year for him.

When we learned about immune system boosting, we got rid of our symptoms. You are, unfortunately, stuck with just medicating the symptoms, the reaction, rather than preventing the reaction to begin with. This takes time and you might very well need to medicate through the first 2-3 months, but then you would see a huge difference. I still have to think about a medication maybe a few days of the year if we have a super early spring. With all the crazy winters we've had (last year was horribly cold, but this year was frighteningly mild), it changes when the trees bloom and when all that pollen blows into the air. We've found that, if we get out ahead of it, our lives have been so much better.

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answers from Phoenix on

I was tested for everything outside and came back 40/50 things I'm allergic to. They said I should get allergy shots but they were too expensive so I didn't. It seems like I have tried everything OTC. I don't have severe issues so I just mostly deal with it. =0(

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answers from St. Louis on

It is just a bad season right now. Right now, I have found that the dog is making me stuffy and sneezy. She is an indoor dog, but goes out in the grass and dirt and tracks that back in. I have been sweeping and vacuuming really good, trying to capture any piece of dog hair I can find.

I also try to eat raw local honey. I use it whenever possible in my food. If I don't need it any food, I eat a spoon of it. I have found it has worked in past years, but not this year.

I was just going to post about air filters.

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answers from Iowa City on

I take Montelukast. I only take it on the really miserable days. It is actually an asthma med but works on allergies and it doesn't make me drowsy. Good luck.

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