While most of us look forward to the warmer weather that marks the beginning of spring, the time of year comes with severe seasonal allergies for some individuals.
For older adults, it is imperative to look for signs of springtime sensitivities, such as runny nose, congestion, and itchy eyes. For seniors aged 65+ – especially those with cardiovascular issues – allergies and the medications used to treat them can pose a severe threat.
Here are some simple tips on managing allergies in the elderly, so you or your older loved one can enjoy the season without the sniffles:
Be Aware of Allergy Symptoms
Don’t assume that just because you’ve never had allergies before, you can’t suddenly get them. Adult-onset allergies are not unusual, and they’re on the rise in the U.S.
Learning the symptoms of seasonal allergies is critical to managing them for yourself or your loved ones. Here’s what you should look for:
- Runny nose
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Dark circles under the eyes
Though most of these symptoms may seem harmless, they can cause extreme discomfort and complicate the treatment of other conditions.
Avoid High-Pollen Days
The amount of pollen in the air can vary from day to day, so plan your time outdoors to avoid exceptionally high pollen counts. Many news services report the daily pollen count during the weather forecast, and you can always find the information online.
If you’re unable to find the information, stick to these basic guidelines:
- Stay inside if the weather is warm, dry, or windy
- The pollen count is usually highest from 5 am to 10 am every day
- The best time for people with allergies to be outside is after a heavy rainfall
Keep Your House Pollen-Free
During spring, it is nearly impossible to keep your home allergen-free, especially if you spend a lot of time coming and going. Still, there are several things you can do to help keep your home allergy-safe:
- Avoid opening windows and doors
- If you get warm, use an air conditioner rather than a fan
- Vacuum and mop floors frequently
- Wash your hands and shower often
- Wear sunglasses when outdoors to help keep irritants out of your eyes
- Change your clothes after coming in from the outdoors
- Use the dryer rather than hanging clothes outside
Try Natural Remedies
Although allergy treatment usually involves over-the-counter antihistamines, experts say that adding certain foods to your diet may help alleviate symptoms. From reducing inflammation to boosting the immune system, these snacks may help ease the struggle of seasonal allergies:
- Apples, berries, garlic, onions, cabbage, and cauliflower contain quercetin, a bioflavonoid that can help prevent your body’s immune system from releasing histamines
- Citrus fruits, strawberries, peppers, and broccoli contain immune-boosting Vitamin C, which can help shorten the duration of symptoms
- Fatty fish contains Omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation
- Bee pollen can have anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antimicrobial properties in the body
If you or an older loved one have symptoms of seasonal allergies, bring it up with your healthcare provider. Allergies can easily get missed during a fast-paced doctor appointment, and some older adults, such as those with dementia, may not be able to express how they’re feeling on their own. Don’t be afraid to advocate!