The doctor: Donald Levy, medical director for the Osher Clinical Center for Complementary and Integrative Medical Therapies at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Chestnut Hill, Mass.
The culprit: Blooming trees in spring; ragweed in late summer.
What he does for prevention: "This is the first allergy season that I've taken 'allergy avoidance' more seriously," Levy said, adding that it's made a noticeable difference. He put an allergen-proof cover on his mattress and pillows to minimize dust mites, and he also got rid of unnecessary pillows around his home. And if he's been outdoors in the evening, he showers before bedtime so pollen isn't resting on his pillowcase.
And for the first time, he took the supplement quercetin before allergy season began.
What he does for treatment: He expands his allergy-relief efforts to include a prescription antihistamine that doesn't leave him feeling groggy as well as the herb stinging nettle every few hours. He says these strategies, combined with his preventive practices, have made him feel "remarkably better" than in seasons past.
He also uses a simple sinus rinse that he does in the shower and takes him five seconds to complete. "It's a fabulous way to wash out irritants and mucus and soothe the sinuses," he said. "I'm amazed at how many of my patients have thanked me for telling them about the sinus rinse and how using it at their first sign of symptoms, has helped them avoid sinus infections."
His bottom line: He mixes and matches both conventional allergy medication and alternative treatments, and he's having his best allergy season in years. To him, good medicine means blending the things that work best for each patient, even in those cases when he is the patient.