Welcome to fall allergy season in Oklahoma. It has arrived a little late this year compared to others, and we're all suffering in one way or another. While allergy medications do what they can for us, it's usually not enough, so how can you reduce your misery?

The last time I saw the allergy doctor, his advice to me was "Move to the Pacific Northwest." I can't make this up, it was as hilarious as it was unhelpful, but doctors aren't miracle workers after all.

My allergy season usually always starts off the same. I'll start to get a little tickle in my sinuses right after Labor Day in early September. It'll slowly build until I wake up one October morning with hay fever. Absolute misery. That's when I'll hit the regular doctor.

At that point, they'll normally give me a steroid to overcome the symptoms and that's usually enough to get me through the worst of it, but I hate taking steroids. I tend to get a little irritable and aggressive, or so my coworkers tell me.

Why can't every year be like 2021? A warm and dry fall lingered on until New Year's Eve. I spent at least one weekend each month riding dirtbike trails with my nephews and never so much as sneezed until that NYE cold front came through with our first of six or seven winter storms in SWOK. I even thought I managed to get through one of those rumored body chemistry changes where you just become immune to allergies.

No such luck.

I've been pretty fortunate these last few years. My doc gave me some pill that keeps your sinuses and airways from becoming inflamed, I haven't had hay fever in years now... but the meds can only do so much. If you want to really bite back at allergies, you have to adopt some changes in your daily lifestyle.

Living in Southwest Oklahoma, fall allergies are just a way of life here. We're right in the middle of the Worst Cities For Allergies each year. OKC, Lubbock, TX, and Dallas-Fort Worth usually show up on that list each year depending on the weather. Since most of the area has been in a deep drought, mold hasn't been problematic, but the ragweed and tree pollen explodes during these cool mornings.

To avoid being completely miserable, spend as much time inside as you can and keep the HVAC filters changed. Since you're not going to be comfortable outside, do what you can for yourself inside.

When you get to work in the morning, leave the windows of your car up. The idea is to limit your outdoor exposure. Experts also recommend you wash your face when you get to work since you'll likely be covered in microscopic pollen. Try to stay inside until it's time to go home.

I've made it part of my routine to get home, toss my clothes in the washer as I walk in, and take a shower to wash the pollen off myself. Makes sense to me, plus who wants to sit in a recliner or sleep on a bed full of today's pollen anyway? It makes logical sense. You'll also want to wash your sheets more often.

If you do have to be outside, be brief. Doctors recommend wearing sunglasses to reduce eye exposure to pollen... itchy eyes... and a mask if you really suffer outside. Not one of those cheap pandemic paper masks, no, you need to N99 it up. I wear an allergen-rated RZ Mask when I mow this time of year.

It may look stupid, but it works for me. I'll take looking stupid over feeling miserable any day of the week.

Allergy season doesn't last forever. It's usually at a fever pitch at this point in the season and normally gone by the time Halloween rolls around. You'll survive. May the odds be ever in your favor.

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