Finally, it’s the start of spring weather. But, for some, it also means the start of allergy season. With sneezing, coughing, stuffy nose and itchy, watery eyes, they’re simply miserable this time of year.

Believe it or not, allergy symptoms are actually the body trying to help out.

The body considers allergens like mold and pollen to be foreign invaders. When the nose clogs and the eyes water, for example, the body is trying to keep those invaders from getting inside. It just so happens that it makes allergy sufferers miserable in the process.

Dust mites, mold, and pollen — from trees, grass or weeds — are the biggest spring allergy offenders.

So how can you avoid being so uncomfortable this allergy season? Let’s take a look at a few tips and tricks.

If you’re not a big fan of antihistamine medications, try a couple of natural options.

  • Ginger root. Put pieces of fresh ginger in a teapot or teacup and pour hot water into it to make a tea. Ginger has antibacterial properties and serves as a natural antihistamine.
  • Nettle extract. You can buy the extract in liquid or tablet forms from a nutrition store. It’s been proven in studies to decrease the inflammation involved with seasonal allergies.

Despite these natural tricks, certain people will still need traditional treatment such as a daily antihistamine, steroid nasal sprays or respiratory inhalers. Talk to your doctor about whether your allergies are severe enough to warrant these medications.

Don’t carry pollen with you

  • Take off your clothes at the front door. Throw them into a garbage bag and tie it tightly. Shower immediately. Otherwise, pollen will get on your couch and bedding.
  • Throughout the day, it’s important to wash your hands with soap and water after coming back inside, especially kids who are playing in the yard, before touching your eyes or nose.
  • Remember to thoroughly clean your contacts at the end of the day, even if they’re long-wear.

Prevention at home

  • Vacuum frequently and purchase special allergy filters to keep it from kicking dust back into the air.
  • Change the air conditioning filter monthly and purchase HEPA filters. They filter pollen, dust mites and even cigarette smoke. Run the A/C often.
  • Keep windows to the house and car shut with the air conditioning running to keep pollen out.
  • Remove all plants from the house. Mold testing says the moisture breeds mold and, in the spring, the pollen sets off allergies.
  • Don’t dust pollen. Spray it down with a liquid cleanser then wipe it clean. That keeps you from simply dusting it into the air.

To rid the house of items that pollen and dust can attach itself to:

  • Wash all bedding and curtains in hot water.
  • Cover the bed and pillows with allergy-proof covers.
  • Replace curtains with blinds, if possible.
  • Replace carpet with flooring.

Use these tips and best of luck this allergy season!

Dr. Tyeese Gaines is a physician-journalist with over 10 years of print and broadcast experience, now serving as health editor for theGrio.com. Dr. Ty is also a practicing emergency medicine physician in New Jersey. Follow her on twitter at @doctorty or on Facebook. Send your questions to [email protected].

Note: The information included in this post is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider with questions. Reading the information on this website does not create a physician-patient relationship.