The Seasonal Allergy Survival Guide


For every overweight tourist getting worked up about peak bloom on the Tidal Basin, there are just as many unfortunate souls violently sneezing all over their laptop screens in Lau.

If you count yourself among the unlucky multitude of people whose bodies pick a fight with pollen every spring, we understand why you have been hiding away in a dark basement for the past few weeks. Puffy eyes, flowing snot and incessant sneezing are valid excuses to avoid fresh air and humans in general, but with the right tricks and tools you’ll be able to emerge on campus (in the daylight!) without scaring the tour groups.

For all of our sakes, we want you looking good and feeling better, so here’s a handy checklist to go through before heading out into the swirling pollen hell that is the front lawn:

  • Claritin Reditabs Is your nasal situation somewhere between leaky faucet and biblical flood? Get on your antihistamine game and do it fast with these cool tablets that dissolve on your tongue (cool being a relative term). They kick in faster than your average pill, plus they won’t make you drowsy, so you can spend all day cursing the trees without a nap!
  • Saline nasal spray I like to think of nasal spray as the slightly less-sexy cousin of the water gun. Much like your favorite SuperSoaker, there is a time and place for nasal spray and it is probably not in a crowded ICC auditorium lecture. Unlike a flirty water gun fight, however, nasal spray involves squirting salt water up your tender, mucous packed nose and is best done when no one is around to see the aftermath. On the plus side, saline solution clears up congestion fast, but over-using a medicated decongestant spray can actually worsen your congestion symptoms, so go easy on the Afrin. If you don’t believe me, ask your mother.
  • LOTS of tissues No one wants to be the kid who wipes his boogers on his sleeve. In addition, I hear some people (read: everyone) appreciate it if you sneeze into a Kleenex instead of spraying their face with snot and spit. Investing in a nice handkerchief is also an option, but there’s just something about a reusable snot rag that doesn’t quite sit right with me.
  • Visine Red, itchy and watery eyes means you either spent the night in a Lau cubicle, are still wearing last night’s Bandolero makeup in Friday recitation or are losing the war with pollen. Luckily, Visine will help all these situations, but won’t change the lifestyle choices that lead to the first two. We’re not miracle workers here. You might want to consider getting the ones specifically for allergies or for contact-wearers if that applies to you.
  • Surgical mask This is would be the nuclear option. If you absolutely cannot handle the idea of a single spore of pollen touching your delicate respiratory system, throw this handy medical-grade fashion statement in your fanny pack and you’ll be golden!

Stay pollen-free, Hoyas!