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Friday 5: Spring has sprung, and so has allergy season

Getty Images / Special to Forum News Service

Wintry weather and snow has given way to warm(er) days and sunshine. While this may sound amazing to the folks who have been stuck indoors under blankets and layers of clothing for the past six months, there's an unlucky group of people who dread this time of year: spring allergy sufferers.

Even with advancements in science and technology, flowers open up each year and release steady bursts of pollen into the air, animals begin to lose their winter coats and temperatures warm enough to spawn mold under the dense layer of snow.

Sometimes medicine isn't enough. Fortunately, dear reader, we've come up with five ways to help combat spring allergies and leave you sniffle-free.

Shut the windows

Look, I get it: The sun has come out for the first time in months, the air is musty and stagnant and you just want to feel that sweet spring breeze blowing through your home.

Don't do it.

As pollen gets released into the air, it gets picked up by the wind and distributed around the area. It's how plants and flowers reproduce and it's how pollen gets swept up into your nose, causing sneezing and itchy, watery eyes and noses. Keep those windows shut. Don't let the little flower baby-makers into your home. It's not worth it.

Take your vitamins

While the symptoms of hay fever are nothing to sneeze at (heh, see what I did there?), there is a way to combat them and still make it outside. In fact, it's also possible to reduce your allergic potential so you're less likely to have symptoms in the first place.

Probiotics can help reduce the blocked noses, sniffling and snuffling medically known as rhinoconjunctivitis. In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, hay fever sufferers who were given 3 billion units of lactobacillus and bifidobacteria during the eight-week study saw an almost 50 percent improvement in their allergy symptoms over those who were given the placebo.

Vitamin C, one of the most important anti-allergy vitamins, is a powerful promoter of a strong immune system and can calm down allergic reactions. While you can take a vitamin C as a pill supplement, it can be found in fresh fruit and vegetables, which we could all use a few more of.

Travel wisely

Because rhinitis is so common in the world, weather apps and television stations tend to keep tabs on the likelihood of bad allergy days. It's now easier than ever to know when and where allergies may strike.

When that alert makes its way to your phone, you know it's time to bust out the antihistamines. And if spring break trips are your kind of style, knowing the local allergy situation before you go can ensure smooth sailing.

Take your medicine

Nasal corticosteroids and decongestants and antihistamines, ah jeez.

If the vitamins aren't enough, finding allergy medicine that works can be a lifesaver. For me, it's Allegra and eye drops; for my dad, it's Claritin and that's it. Taking the time to learn what does and doesn't work can mean the difference between blowing your nose or breathing through it.

Eat some honey, honey

The secret is in the bees. Local honey, traditionally used to improve food and drinks, contains many enzymes, antioxidants and minerals your body needs to help you not feel sick anymore.

Bees use pollen from the same flowers that cause allergies. When people eat honey, they ingest a bit of the allergen that makes them sick. Over time, the body builds up immunity to these allergens — making seasonal allergy season not quite so terrible.

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Friday 5 is a weekly column featuring quick tips, tricks, ideas and more — all in bunches of five.

Emma Vatnsdal

Emma Vatnsdal is a Features writer, focused on telling stories about people, places and all the interesting things that come along with it. She earned her degree in multimedia journalism from Minnesota State University Moorhead and joined the Forum Communications team in 2018. She grew up in the far north town of Roseau, Minn. and has a thick Minnesotan-Canadian accent. Follow her on Twitter @emmajeaniewenie.

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