Allergy sufferers know their foes: grass, trees, pollen, dust mites, pet dander. These and other allergens produce the symptoms that drive you to distraction. As many as 50 million Americans suffer from allergies, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.

Although allergies cannot be cured, they can be managed. And educating yourself is the key. Learn what triggers your symptoms—you may have more than one type of allergy—and ask your doctor about the various treatment options available.

Harvard Medical School’s HEALTH beat offers a tip for sufferers of hay fever, the most common allergy in the United States: start using your allergy medicines a few weeks before your allergy season starts. Research has demonstrated that this is a more effective way to reduce hay fever symptoms.

SOURCE: What to Do about Allergies — A Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School, 2007.