Fight your seasonal allergies with this surprising technique

Ahhh, spring: what a great time for strangers and friends to think you’re crying because your immune system is struggling with pollen and ragweed. Seasonal allergies can be very frustrating, but the good news is that there are are certifiable tips and techniques for hiding your sleeve (with a few tissues).

Allergic responses start because you’ve come into contact with allergens, but many of them may be invisible to you, says Harvey Kaufman, MD, senior medical director at Quest Diagnostics, which specializes in allergy testing. “Understanding the cause of your allergies and identifying sensitivity plays a central role in managing seasonal allergies,” says Dr. Kaufman. Allergy testing, which involves pricking your skin with various allergens, can find out exactly what you’re allergic to and how to do it. Additionally, Dr. Kaufman says wiping your face, rinsing your eyes with cool, clean water, washing your hands you might rub your eyes with are all essential steps to stifle an instant response.

You can also keep medications such as antihistamines close by. These drugs act as a bouncer in the body, so to speak, and make the flare up of allergy symptoms go away. They also dry out your sinuses, which can relieve many mucosal symptoms. “A big misconception is that using drugs early makes them less helpful, but the opposite is actually true,” says Kara Wada, MD, allergist and immunologist at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “Starting medications early helps keep allergies from getting worse and gives them time to kick in.” (If you have more severe reactions like asthma symptoms or have allergies that cause the body’s very dangerous anaphylactic reaction, you need to be prepared with the right medications like inhalers or EpiPens, says Dr. Kaufman. )

So, while these are proven allergy relief techniques, there is anecdotal evidence that giving yourself a quick facial massage may help alleviate some of your sinus-related allergy symptoms.

Why would facial massage work for allergy symptoms

Your facial sinuses are like major highways in your face. These highways are all connected and there are significant cavities in your cheeks that lead to your throat. For this reason, a facial massage can help soothe that feeling of drowning in mucus if done correctly, Dr. Kaufman says.

How to Treat Yourself to a Facial Massage for Seasonal Allergies

“Some people find that massaging the temples, the area between the cheekbones and upper jaw, or the area between the nasal bone and the corner of the eyes can help with relief,” says Dr. Kaufman.

Why? Mucus and inflammation can build up pressure in these areas and cavities, which can lead to headaches or a “puffy” feeling. Rubbing these areas for 10 seconds each up and down can lessen the “puffiness” feeling and relieve some of that pressure.

Another way to massage your sinuses, says Dr. Kaufman, is to use your index fingers. Place them just above the crease and below the bridge of the nose, he says. “Push firmly (but not too hard) inward, guiding your index fingers toward the crease, then moving outward so that the index fingers move just below the cheekbones,” he says. You should be able to feel your sinuses open as the skin around your face gently moves outward as you continue to guide your index fingers to where your cheekbones stop, he adds.

Dr. Kaufman points out that this may help relieve symptoms, but medicinal and disinfectant efforts are also very important. Research on this technique is inconclusive, but some studies point to massage’s ability to relieve nasal congestion. Once you’ve finished your massage, be sure to blow your nose as well. The accumulation of mucus in the sinus cavities is the priority, which is why the tissues can be of great help.

As mentioned earlier, your sinuses are all connected, so these particular techniques can loosen the mucus closest to your nose and physically push it down and towards the pipe that leads to your throat.

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