The first line of defense, says Michael Benninger, M.D., chairman of the Head and Neck Institute at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, is to reduce your exposure to pollen. Close your windows and try to stay in on high-pollen days. Be sure to wash your laundry with hot water, and use the recirculate function on your air-conditioner.
If you're still suffering, freeze-dried stinging nettle, a natural antihistamine you can take in tea or a tincture, might help. (Note: Stinging nettle isn't safe for pregnant women and could interact with other medications, so check with your doctor first.)
Many studies have shown that acupuncture is effective at relieving seasonal allergies by "promoting immunity and reducing congestion, which helps the body to reestablish a healthy state," says Terry Courtney, dean of the School of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine at Bastyr University.
If other solutions aren't successful, it may be time to try an over-the-counter antihistamine such as loratadine (Claritin) or cetirizine (Zyrtec), or ask your doctor about prescription options such as fexofenadine (Allegra), mometasone furoate (Nasonex), montelukast (Singulair), and olopatadine (Patanol).
If you suffer from allergy-related asthma or mucous buildup, extract of butterbur, an herb shown in small studies to reduce mucous and inflammation, may work in combination with over-the-counter antihistamines. (If you try it, check with your doc -- and make sure it's free of pyrrolized alkaloids [PA], which are potentially harmful toxins.)
For symptoms that can't be relieved by pills or nasal sprays, you may want to consider allergy shots, a method of treatment called immunotherapy that works by slowly exposing your immune system to allergens, which over time can help your body build up a tolerance to them.
Terrified of needles? Sublingual immunotherapy, a special formulation of allergens taken under the tongue to promote immunity, has been "widely successful in Europe and may work better than shots," says James Dillard, M.D., medical director at Columbia University's Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The treatment is expected to be FDA approved in a few years.