Itchy, watery eyes? Check. Runny nose? Check? The scratchy throat? Bingo. Yep, it's allergy season. While it may not be possible to avoid all allergens, you can at least manage them with some cool tech and some smart home tips. Give these a try.
Get an app
If you're plagued with, staying inside when the pollen count is high is probably the best idea. No need to wait on your local weather report for the info, though: There are several apps that can provide you with the local pollen count ASAP.
The WebMD Allergy app, for example, gives you the pollen count of various different allergens. You can also log your symptoms to zero in on exactly what triggers your allergies and set alert notifications for high-pollen days. It also offers in-depth information about allergens.
An alternative for allergy sufferers is the Allergy Alert app. This has a lot of the same features, but it works with Ford Sync, so you can use it while driving. Both apps are available for iPhone ($1,099 at Walmart) and Android.
Change your filter
One of your best defenses against seasonal allergens inside of your home is your HVAC filter. These filters come with a rating system called a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values (MERV) scale. This scale rates the efficiency of the filter on a scale of 1 to 20. The higher the number, the better the filter works, meaning cleaner air for you.
Though the filters on the higher end of the scale are a little pricier, they will make your sinuses much happier because they filter smaller particles in the air. To save money, look for filters that can be washed when they get dirty, like the lines made by Filtrete and BoAir. Be sure the filter has antimicrobial properties to inhibit bacterial growth after you wash them for added protection. These filters can last six to eight years. Some even have lifetime warranties, so think of the expense as an investment.
If you opt for a disposable filter, be sure to change it monthly if you live in an area that is particularly dusty, like rural areas. Everyone else should be safe changing their filter every three months.
Clean your mattress
According to the American Council on Science and Health, your mattress may have 10 million dust mites on it. Once you get over the eww factor, just think about what those little buggers are doing to your allergies. Stop. Don't burn your mattress. All it needs is a good clean.
Every six months, strip your bed and vacuum it using an upholstery attachment. While your regular vacuum will do a good job, if you really want to get your mattress extra clean, you can invest in handheld vacuums specifically for mattresses. The Dyson V6 ($300 at Dyson) Mattress Handheld Vacuum or the Euleven UV Bed Vacuum Cleaner are among those that can do the job. I was kind of disgusted when I tried the Dyson on my own mattress. It really did pull a lot of dust and lint out of the mattress fibers that my regular vacuum missed.
Originally published May 23, 2017
Update, April 27, 2018: This article has been brought up to date.
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