AT THE DOCTOR'S OFFICE
11. ID your triggers: "If you know what they are, you’ll know how to defend yourself against them," says Smart. Request a skin-prick test, in which an allergist applies a man-made version of the potential allergen to your forearm and makes a small prick in the skin so the solution can enter. If you're allergic, a lump resembling a mosquito bite will appear at the site.
12. Give your medication a checkup: While some may find relief with an over-the-counter medicine, such as Claritin, Alavert, or Zyrtec-D, others may prefer a stronger one-a-day prescription tablet, such as Singulair. Ask your doctor for her recommendations, but don’t mix your meds: Following a non-drowsy 24-hour drug with a different p.m. pill that night could lead to dizziness, increased heartbeat, and nausea. "But what's most important is that you take allergy medications as regularly as suggested by a doctor to ward off attacks, rather than when you’re just experiencing symptoms," says Casale.
13. Try a spray: If you find that pills aren't easing your symptoms, your M.D. may prescribe a nasal steroid like Veramyst, Flonase, or Nasonex. "These sprays effectively treat runny noses and watery eyes," says Randolph, who adds that you shouldn't be put off by the word "steroid." "Nasal sprays are extremely safe. The small amount of steroids you spritz into your nose is metabolized quickly, so little—if any— actually enters the body." Use one a few weeks before allergies hit; symptoms will start later and be less severe.
14. Get your shots: If you’re affected by seasonal allergies for more than three months of the year, allergy shots, also called immunotherapy, may be in order. An allergist will inject you with gradually increasing doses of an allergen one to three times a week over the course of up to seven months, which enables you to build up tolerance to the offending substance. (After that, you’ll get the shots once a month for three to five years.) "Shots change the immune system's pathway," says Randolph. "They are effective for a number of years, and they can even prevent the development of other allergies as well as asthma."