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Q: What can I do to get relief from seasonal allergies, or this terrible vog right now?

Seasonal allergies are also known as hay fever or allergic rhinitis, and we do get them here in Hawaii even though plants flower year-round. Seasonal allergies occur when pollen or other particles trigger your immune system and cause an allergic reaction like sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose, and congestion. For some people, blooming mango or avocado trees might be a trigger. Other common allergens in Hawaii include dust mites, mold, and cockroach droppings, or conditions like vog.

There are things you can do to get relief. First, identify what’s triggering your allergies and try to reduce your exposure. This could include spending time away from the area or closing your doors and windows, and running your air conditioner when trees are blooming. If the problem is inside the house, like dust mites, clean bedding, wipe down surfaces, and vacuum the room to keep them under control. Consider using a portable HEPA air filter in your bedroom.

There are many over-the-counter medicines that can help reduce symptoms of seasonal allergies, including antihistamines and decongestants. Many people also find relief in rinsing their sinuses with sterile water using a tool like a neti pot. There is some evidence that acupuncture can reduce seasonal allergy symptoms.

Finally, if home remedies are not giving you enough relief, seek medical help. Your doctor can give you skin or blood tests to identify your allergy triggers and recommend the best treatment. Depending on what is causing your allergies, allergy shots may provide a long-term solution. Also called immunotherapy, allergy shots work by exposing your immune system to small doses of the allergen, so you gradually build up a tolerance.

No matter what is causing your allergies, you don’t have to suffer in silence. By identifying the problem and getting treatment, you can find relief.

Chrissy Miller
Employee Health Manager, Maui Health