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For the allergic, happiness is at odds with the changing of the weather, because when the world starts thawing and the trees start blooming, the blooms start spewing pollen, and everything it touches goes to ruin. Yes, pollen, marauding your eyeballs and nasal passages, fooling your dumb immune system into a melodramatic over-response. You may need to erect some defenses to get through the next few weeks.

The best defense is complete avoidance: follow Earl Sweatshirt’s lead and just Don’t Go Outside, especially when the pollen count is just too loud. Realistically, though, you may need to walk through pollen-controlled zones to get places, and like most humans, you might be tempted to bask in the new sun because it feels good. So if you do? Do not touch your eyes. Do not touch your face in general, but definitely do not introduce the pollen into the delicate membranes of your eyeball. If you feel at all tempted, tip some eye drops in there to flush out the enemy. Poking or knuckle-kneading your eyes may offer some fleeting relief, but will also mash the bad stuff in, nice and thoroughly, and soon enough you’ll feel like taking sandpaper to your puffed-up pink spheres. I’m welling up with tears just thinking about this.

Once you escape Outside, you might want to change clothes and take a shower to rinse off any pollen you’ve unwittingly coated yourself in—make it a hot shower if your sinuses need opening. Watch out for open windows, wash your sheets and pillowcases often, and exile your rugs for a while (they’re allergen havens). Vigilance is worth it, because once your bedroom’s infiltrated, good luck welcoming air through your nostrils in the morning or prying open your eyes, sealed shut with golden crust.

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Then there are the drug solutions. Try oral antihistamines—I swear by my pharmacy’s generic brand—but look out for the drowsiness that often follows. Eyedrops are a godsend, medicated or otherwise. Eat honey because it’s delicious, but not because local honey serves as some kind of exposure therapy. If that’s what you’re after, then look into allergy shots, which can offer a more permanent fix to your woes. Despite your best efforts, April probably will still be the cruelest month, a pain deepened by the contrast: the allergy-free are exulting in baseball and grass and flowers and everything we’ve all been denied for months. Sufferers are welcome to share tips to get through this. We’re all doing what little we can.