Allergies are an equal opportunity annoyer -- and even doctors are bothered by them.
While conventionally trained physicians might seek relief from an over-the-counter product or prescription medication, doctors who practice integrative medicine -- using both traditional and alternative treatment approaches -- may ease their stuffiness and watery eyes without resorting to medicine. They might reach for something in the supplement aisle or use other natural strategies to soothe their seasonal symptoms.
ABC News recently spoke with four integrative physicians to find out what they do when their allergies act up. Here's what they said.
The doctor: Michelle Bailey, pediatrician and director of education at Duke Integrative Medicine in Durham, N.C.
The culprit: Ragweed; August and September are her worst months, and her symptoms tend to improve by late October or early November, depending on the pollen counts.
What she does for prevention: In the past, Bailey's allergies have progressed to the point where she developed severe headaches from the congestion and was prone to sinus infections. To prevent this, she now regularly uses a warm saline solution to rinse out her sinuses, a practice known as nasal irrigation. She puts a commercial or homemade saline solution into either a plastic syringe or a neti pot, a spouted device used to cleans nasal passageways by pouring saltwater into one nostril so that it drains out the other.
To minimize pollen exposure, Bailey also keeps the windows closed in her bedroom and car during allergy season and washes her hands and face regularly throughout the day. And if she's spent a lot of time outdoors, she changes her clothes.
What she does for treatment: When allergy season is under way and her symptoms emerge, she may do the nasal rinse as often as three to four times a day to help thin mucus and wash it away along with pollen and other irritants. If she's very stuffed up, she might use aromatherapy. She places a few drops of congestion-busting peppermint or eucalyptus oil on a warm cloth and holds this below her nose, breathing deeply for three to five minutes. Or she might add these oils to a warm bath and inhale the scented steam.
Her bottom line: Before she learned about the benefit of these natural practices, she relied on prescription and over-the-counter antihistamines, or she didn't treat her symptoms at all and instead, suffered through them all season long. Since doing these strategies regularly, she's not had any sinus infections and she feels she's helping her body to heal itself.
The doctor: Daniel Monti, medical director for the Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia
The culprit: Grass pollen in mid- to late May until July
What he does for prevention: "When I paid more attention to my overall physiological status, I've found my allergies can get better," Monti said. So instead of treating his allergy like it's an isolated symptom -- a sneeze here or a plugged-up nose there -- he uses a whole-body approach.