HOUSTON -

Houston allergies are as much a part of our city as high school football and barbecue. We all have our tricks to avoid triggers.

"Personally, I like to take a lot of vitamin C when I feel it coming on," said Houstonian Louis Marshall.

"A friend of mine told me about homeopathy and was a little wary at first, but it's working," said Susan Jhin.

But, when Local 2 Chief Meteorologist Frank Billingsley says those pollen counts are sky high, nothing seems to work.

This month, Prevention Magazine came out with a list of nine habits that make allergies worse.

Number one: Stressful work deadlines. Researchers found tasks that make us tense, aggravate allergies.

How about this, a glass of wine may help the heart, but Danish researchers say each additional drink increases the risk of allergy inflammation by 3 percent.

"One interesting thing about that is women may be affected more than men are with the alcohol," adds Houston allergist Dr. Eric Sandberg with Kelsey-Seybold Clinics. "Some of the studies have suggested that and we're not sure why."

Try this on for size, crank up your washing machine to the hottest setting.

"For children that we see with allergies, dust mites are the most common allergy and these dust mites live in the bedroom so washing sheets in very hot water makes a big difference," said Sandberg.

While you're at it, you may want to throw dirty clothes in the hamper and hop in the shower as soon as you get home to wash away hidden pollen particles.

"I get in the shower, turn on very warm water and just drench myself from head to toe," said Louis Marshall.

"Now I'm learning a lot of tips from you today," said Susan Jhin.

Dr. Sandberg wants too sure about that one.

"I think the amount of pollen that gets put back in the air after we come inside is probably minimal," said Sandberg. "So I think those kinds of efforts may have minimal effects."

Sandberg said the biggest mistake people make is waiting too long to take allergy medicine and skipping doses. He gives patients two dates to remember.

"We say Valentine's Day, middle of February and Labor Day, early September," said Sandberg, "and if we start our medications ahead of time, we get much better results."

Sandberg said it doesn't matter whether you take your medications in the morning or evening, just stick to once daily and be consistent.

Here are three more things Prevention Magazine says may be worsening your allergies:

Houseplants that make you sneeze

Your innocent orchid could bring tears to your eyes. More than 75 percent of hay fever sufferers are allergic to at least one common houseplant, found a Belgian study. Allergens in plant sap can diffuse into the air and set off your sniffling.

Though any potted greens can be trouble, researchers found that ficus, yucca, ivy, palm, orchid, and fern varieties are most irritating to allergy-prone people.

Water workouts in indoor pools

Chlorine-filled lap lanes can wreak havoc on your system. Used to disinfect, chlorine is highly irritating to the skin, eyes, and respiratory tract.

A recent study found that teens who log more than 100 hours in a chlorinated pool have a 3 to 7 times higher risk of developing hay fever, compared with swimmers who dunk in chlorine-free pools.

To reap the benefits of your water workout without wheezing and sneezing, consider wearing a mask or goggles when swimming to protect your eyes from chlorine's temporarily irritating effects. Try to swim in outdoor pools, where the gas is more readily dispersed, instead of indoor ones, and avoid swimming in chlorinated pools daily.

Friends who smoke

Cigarettes, with their numerous toxic chemicals and irritants, are nasty for everyone, but allergy sufferers may be especially sensitive, according to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

In fact, one Japanese study of teenage students found that more than 80 percent of those who came from homes where family members smoked heavily showed signs of nasal allergies.

Even if you don't hang around smoky bars or other areas, particles on the clothing of smoking friends or coworkers can pollute the air in your home or office.