If you’re one of the nearly one in three American adults who suffers from hay fever, you know the miserable symptoms all too well: itchy eyes, runny nose, and serial sneezes. Over-the-counter and prescription medications can bring relief, but also side effects such as sleepiness and anxiety.

This year, don’t wait until peak allergy season to fight back against that mountain of wadded tissues. Experts say allergies can work like a “drop in the bucket,” where repeated exposures to various allergens add up gradually until the immune system “overflows,” or rather overreacts, flooding the body with inflammatory histamine compounds that are behind those pesky sneezes. It’s impossible to manage every environmental allergen, says Stephanie Becker, ND, of the Washington Center for Complementary Medicine in Washington, D.C. “But we can clean up a large percentage of other allergies you respond to, eliminating or reducing the severity and frequency of seasonal allergy symptoms.”

The key: Start now to give natural remedies a chance to take effect. By reducing your exposure to allergy triggers—and by boosting your immune system—these diet, supplement, and environmental tips can stall allergy attacks, even when pollen counts soar.