- Home remedies for allergies include nasal rinses, air purifiers, dehumidifiers and certain essential oils.
- A nasal irrigation device such as a neti pot can flush irritants out of your nose.
- Using an essential oil diffuser such as lemon, peppermint, and eucalyptus can also help relieve allergy symptoms.
- This article was reviewed by Jason R. McKnight, MD, MS, a family doctor and assistant clinical professor at the Texas A&M College of Medicine.
- Check out Insider’s Insider Reference Library for more advice.
Allergies can occur indoors and outdoors at any time of the year and cause symptoms that can range from mildly uncomfortable to life-threatening. A whopping 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year, but not everyone is allergic to the same irritants.
Regardless of the irritant you’re allergic to, symptoms like itchy eyes, nasal congestion, and sneezing can occur. Most often this is also known as hay fever or allergic rhinitis.
We spoke to an ENT specialist for some tips on how to manage your pesky allergy symptoms at home using natural remedies and changes in your surroundings. Here are five different remedies that you can use.
1. Nasal irrigation
If someone is experiencing nasal allergy symptoms such as congestion or itchy nose, a nasal rinse with saline or spray is a good first line of defense, says Dr. Omid Mehdizadeh, ENT (ENT) doctor at the Providence Saint Johns Health Center in Santa Monica, California.
You can try first using a salt spray (salt water) in each nostril, which may be effective enough to loosen the mucus and relieve congestion by thinning the mucus. Mehdizadeh says that salt products for this purpose have the same salt content (salt concentration) as our own body, which makes them comfortable to use. Salt sprays are sold in spray bottles with a nozzle designed to go into the nostrils.
Otherwise, you can try using a nasal irrigation device like a neti pot. With such a device, a mixture of salts gets in one nostril and out of the other. Watering devices contain more liquid than salt sprays.
Whether you’re using a salt spray or a device like a neti pot, follow the same instructions.
- Tilt your head sideways to the left over the sink.
- Insert the tip of the device or spray bottle into the right nostril as this is the nostril above.
- Pour or spray the solution.
- The solution drains through the other nostril.
- Repeat on the other side.
“The douches are best because the patient is actually mechanically removing all irritants from the nose. In many cases, this could be very helpful,” says Mehdizadeh.
Not only will the irritants be flushed out of your nose, but this will also help loosen up thick mucus and relieve congestion.
2. Air purifier
Investing in a quality air purifier can help alleviate your indoor allergies. According to Mehdizadeh, air purifiers, especially HEPA (High Efficiency Particle Air) cleaners, do a great job of trapping allergens in indoor air. This way, there will be fewer allergens in the air you breathe when they get trapped in the air purifier, reducing the chance of an allergic reaction. Some common indoor allergens that the cleaner can help with are dust mites and dander.
Removing these irritants from the air inside can help relieve your symptoms. Additionally, Mehdizadeh recommends keeping windows closed if you are allergic to outdoor irritants such as pollen.
If indoor mold allergy is more of your concern, Mehdizadeh says you need to lower the humidity in your home to reduce the incidence of mold, as mold thrives and grows in damp areas. In this case, Mehdizadeh recommends using a dehumidifier.
According to Mehdizadeh, if you are using a dehumidifier or humidifier you should use an adjustable one so you can control how dry the room gets as you don’t want the nasal passages to get too dry as this can also cause discomfort. According to the EPA, the humidity should be between 30% and 60% to slow down the growth of mold, so you can adjust the settings accordingly. Mehdizadeh says you shouldn’t go below 30% as it can irritate your nose.
4. Essential oils
According to Mehdizadeh, essential oils are powerful, so it is important that you consult your doctor before using them as allergy medicines. Once you’ve got your doctor’s approval, Mehdizadeh says that some common essential oils for allergies are citrus, peppermint, and eucalyptus. Here are some of the properties and uses of these essential oils:
- lemon: Lemon oil is a widely used citrus essential oil for allergies. It works as an antihistamine by reducing inflammation and relieving congestion.
- peppermint: Since peppermint contains natural menthol, it can help with constipation and coughs. A small study published in Respiratory Medicine in 2013 found that inhaling menthol helped relieve cough better than a placebo. Menthol suppresses the cough reflex.
- eucalyptus: Eucalyptus oil has anti-inflammatory properties that help fight inflammation in the airways. This can relieve your allergy symptoms, especially congestion of your nose and chest.
One way to use these essential oils is to put them in a diffuser so you can inhale them at home.
Alternatively, you can use products that contain these as ingredients. For example, the fan favorite, Vick’s VapoRub contains both menthol and eucalyptus oils to help relieve symptoms.
You can also find showering dissolving tablets that contain these essential oils. So when the shower runs on the tablets and the shower becomes steamy, inhale the aromas and experience relief.
OTC drugs for allergies
If these natural remedies and lifestyle changes aren’t for you, consider trying over-the-counter allergy medications like antihistamines like Claritin and Zyrtec. These are second-generation antihistamines, which means they’re less likely to cause drowsiness, says Mehdizadeh.
You can also try Benadryl, a first generation antihistamine. That said, it is more likely to cause drowsiness and is best taken at night.
When to see a doctor
If your allergy symptoms do not improve, it is important to see your doctor. Your doctor can help you find a solution and rule out other possible causes of your symptoms.