Allergy image courtesy of Flickr/nub

Almost a quarter of all Americans suffer from Allergies, while more than half of all Americans test positive to at least one allergen. Yet, despite being well-studied and increasingly more common, allergies continue to wreak havoc. Many people rely on both prescription and non-prescription medications to mediate their symptoms, but they are often not enough. That being said, here are 8 sure ways to beat your allergies.

1. Make Your Home Allergy-Proof

Even those with outdoor allergies may find themselves feeling only mildly better after taking shelter in their homes. If you are one of these people, it may be because allergens are finding their way inside. Allergy-proofing your home can be an effective way of stopping those pesky allergies and making your life more comfortable. Do you use fans to cool your home? Fans tend to draw air in from the outside, dragging those annoying outdoor allergens in with it. Try using an air conditioner instead. This way, you can keep cool while keeping your windows closed for added protection from outdoor allergens. If you have indoor allergies, consider purchasing an air filter to keep the air inside your home allergen-free. Use a high-efficiency particulate air filter (HEPA filter) on your vacuum, furnace, and air conditioner to trap even more allergens before they get to you. You should also consider removing rugs and carpeting as they act as perfect traps for allergen particles. If you have pet allergies, be sure to make certain areas of your home pet-free. For example, consider not letting your cat into your bedroom where your lovable feline's pet dander may become a real monster under your bed.

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2. Limit Your Exposure to Allergens

Okay, this is admittedly not much of a secret, yet many people underestimate the effect that exposure to allergens has on, well, their allergies. Simply put, spending less time in the presence of allergens will cause less allergy symptoms. For example, if you suffer from outdoor allergies, spending your entire day outside will likely cause stronger allergy symptoms, especially during allergy season. In this case, spending less time outside will help limit your symptoms. Likewise, if you are allergic to milk, then you will likely experience fewer allergic reactions by limiting your intake of milk products. Therefore, if you find your allergies are being particularly difficult, keep in mind what you are allergic to and avoid it!

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3. Wear a Mask

Are you Gotham's Dark Knight, or are you just being allergy-savvy? Either way, wearing a basic N95 respirator mask while you work or travel can do wonders for limiting or downright beating your allergies altogether. The N95 basic respirator mask is made with a particulate filtering material that will block at least 95% of airborne particles from entering your system. The downside, as you might have already guessed, is that you may look a little curious to some. Still, it always offers you the anecdotal chance to exclaim, “I'm Batman.” if someone asks why you are wearing a mask. On a serious note, however, consider throwing on a mask before taking on a task that might bring on a coughing or sneezing attack.

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4. Bathe at Night

Your body is a particle magnet. Over the course of your day, your body traps allergen particles such as pollen and pet dander, making your allergies worse as the day goes on. This can be particularly annoying for those who have trouble sleeping due to allergies. A little-known secret to relieving your allergies later in the day is to remove these particles when you get home from work, or before climbing into bed. Simply hop in the shower or take a nice, relaxing bath, and you may just find yourself feeling much better. This also helps avoid making your bed sheets a playground for allergen particles and ruining your much needed sleep. One more tip is to avoid using hair gel or mousse after bathing, as these products are particularly known for trapping allergen particles like pollen.

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5. Change Your Clothes

We can consider this secret an addition to number 4 because your body is not the only thing collecting allergen particles like pollen during the course of the day. Your clothes have an amazing ability to not only collect these aggravating particles, but also tract them through your entire home. That being said, consider changing your clothes as soon as you get home from being outside. Some experts also suggest that you use hot water when washing your laundry to ensure that allergenic particles get removed from your clothing. Take your shoes off immediately when you get home, as well, because shoes are known to transport large quantities of allergens and bacteria alike.

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6. Avoid Drinking Alcohol

If you have nasal allergy symptoms, you may want to consider avoiding that glass of wine with your dinner, or that beer when you get home from your work day. Alcohol increases blood flow and dilates the linings of your nose and sinuses, which can either jump start your allergy symptoms, or make your symptoms even worse. Another issue with alcohol to note is that it often has harmful interactions with allergy treatments, especially prescription medications. When you mix alcohol with over-the-counter or prescription medications, you may experience nausea and vomiting, headaches, changes in blood pressure, liver damage, heart problems, or internal bleeding.

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7. Use Medication (Properly)

For many allergy sufferers, taking medication to reduce their symptoms is not a new concept, yet many do not rely enough on their medication. Moreover, many allergy sufferers do not use their medication properly. For example, preventative medication such as Nasonex and Rhinocort should be taken routinely – everyday – to prevent allergy symptoms and maintain the treatment of allergies, but many people only use these medications when their symptoms flair up. Similarly, fast-acting, over-the-counter products can also sometimes be used before you expose yourself to allergens to stop symptoms from occurring. Not using medication properly greatly hinders its effectiveness, and it can also cause unwanted side effects. If you have been prescribed medication to treat your allergies, be sure to follow your doctor's instructions and take your medication properly.

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8. Eat an Allergy-Wise Diet

Yes, the diet you eat can actually affect your allergies. Spicy foods, for example, can jump start histamine production in your body, which increases your reaction to allergenic particles. Tea, on the other hand, has naturally occurring antihistamines, which suppress your immune response to allergens. Some research also suggests that a diet with more fruits and vegetables, and less red meat, helps with controlling asthma. Cooking your fruits and vegetables may also control certain allergies, as raw foods often contain trapped allergens and pesticides. Finally, a diet high in sodium (salt) is associated with more intense allergy symptoms, especially asthma. Lowering your sodium intake may improve your allergy symptoms.

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