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If you, like 50 million Americans, suffer from this perennial pest, you probably think you've tried it all. You've taken the do-nothing approach, optimistic your hay fever would vanish on its own. You've tested out-there "cures" that worked for your aunt's best friend's brother. And from an RX or two, you've gotten relief — plus pesky side effects. To find solutions that actually work, Women's Health magazine scoured the latest research.
Women's Health, published by Rodale of Emmaus, reveals three ways to cope with allergies:
1 Going for a jog is the last thing you feel like doing when you're stuffed up. But here's why it might be worth it: A moderate-intensity workout significantly reduced allergy symptoms in one study from Thailand. Exercise may decrease the body's release of irritating histamines and other biological mediators, the same way some medications do, says Dr. Sindhura Bandi, assistant professor at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
2 Seasonal snifflers who got needled by an acupuncturist 12 times over the course of eight weeks showed more improvement in their symptoms and used medication less frequently than people who didn't get acupuncture or got a sham treatment, according to one clinical trial published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine. Traditional Chinese medicine teaches that acupuncture treatments can help bring the body into balance. Preliminary Western research, meanwhile, suggests that these strategically placed needles may help control inflammation by reining in chemicals that contribute to an allergic reaction.
Shoot for a cure
3 Most treatments relieve symptoms; immunotherapy, or allergy shots, offers an actual cure — and it's usually covered by insurance. A small dose of the allergen is delivered with each jab to train your body to tolerate it. Of course, it's somewhat inconvenient — immunotherapy entails getting weekly injections for about six months, followed by monthly boosters for three to five years. "We typically go to that step when patients fail with other therapies or are at risk of asthma, or per patient preference," Dr. Bandi says.
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