Allergy season is upon us. The flowers are blooming, pollen is flying, and we can’t stop sneezing. To make matters worse, allergic reactions — including seasonal allergies — tend to worsen as we age. While getting older is inevitable, there are still some changes you can make to help reduce your allergy symptoms. What’s more, there are a few items that can make allergies worse that may surprise you. Here’s what to avoid to keep your allergies as manageable as possible.

Allergens around the house

Noticing pollen is pretty easy. However, you may not know that spending time outdoors can actually translate to worse allergies once you’re inside. The main culprit here is your clothing. When you spend time outside during allergy season, pollen and other irritants can stick to your clothes. Then, once you’re inside, those irritants spread all around your house causing allergy flare-ups even when you’re indoors. To prevent the spread of pollen as much as possible, make sure you change your clothes as soon as you get home after a long day outside. In addition, wash your clothing in hot water as soon as possible. If you want to get even more preventative about the pollen spreading, take a hot shower once you get indoors. This will help wash away any pollen left on your skin or hair.

After you shower off all that pollen, you’re probably wanting to unwind with a glass of wine and a scented candle. While it sounds relaxing, this isn’t doing your allergy any favors. First, alcohol widens the blood vessels in the body. This can, therefore, produce an even-more runny nose during allergy season. Alcohol can also worsen allergy symptoms such as sneezing, itching, headaches, and coughing. You’ll want to avoid beer and red wine as much as possible, as it contains sulfites and histamines which are compounds that actually cause an allergic reaction. Histamines are produced by the yeast and bacteria that interact during the alcohol fermentation process. Yikes! Next, your favorite Yankee Candle can actually make your allergies worse, too. Scented candles contain chemicals to achieve the right fragrance. These chemicals can be especially irritating for people who suffer from hay fever. Other strongly scented household products, like soaps and laundry detergents, can also trigger symptoms like sneezing, coughing, runny nose, headaches, and rashes. If you discover you are particularly sensitive to these items, try purchasing some unscented soaps and detergents to utilize when allergy season is in full effect.

Day-to-day hassles

Another unexpected suspect in causing worsened allergy symptoms is stress. When you begin to feel stressed out, your body releases hormones and chemicals. One such compound is histamine, which you may remember from earlier. You may recognize this compound, as many allergy medications include anti-histamines. It should be noted that stress does not directly cause allergies, it just makes an allergic reaction worse because histamine levels are higher in the bloodstream. So, how do you manage to relieve stress, especially with bothersome allergies affecting you?

Different people relieve stress in different ways, and it’s best to try a few options out to find which activity is right for you. Some people relieve stress by hitting the gym. This is because physical activity helps your body produce endorphins, which reduce the perception of pain and trigger positive feelings. If you’re not a big fan of the gym, you can also try to reduce stress with more calming activities such as meditation, bubble baths, and comfy movie nights. While consistently taking time to de-stress will help improve your mental health, it’ll also keep unwanted, excessive allergy symptoms at bay.