Each time of the year brings a new string of allergies people have to contend with. While these allergens differ depending on the location and individual sensitivities, allergy season can be a 12-month hassle.
Seasonal and chronic conditions, while an inconvenience to everyone, affect seniors a little differently than most of the population. Medical professionals have to take age, and mental and physical conditions into consideration when diagnosing and treating these patients, as the regular course of care may not be the best plan of action. Certain antihistamines that would normally be prescribed can have adverse reactions on seniors with cardiovascular disease and interact negatively with other medications, according to a study published in the Archives of Family Medicine.
The loved ones of seniors battling these issues can take these four steps to ensure the effects allergies have are minimal:
1. Focus on providing clean air
While having the windows open during the warmer months provides a gentle breeze that is relaxing, it can wreak havoc on the allergies of seniors. Loved ones should turn on their air conditioner during this time instead and invest in a dehumidifier that captures pesky particles from circulating, according to Bay Alarm Medical. By taking the initiative to provide clean air where seniors live, family members can keep allergens from impacting those they love.
"An allergy test can help seniors discern what is most bothersome."
2. Ask for an allergy test
It's not uncommon for people to know the source of their allergies, whether it's the dogwood trees blooming outside or pet dander inside the house. For loved ones who can't quite figure out what's causing the problem, an allergy test will likely be helpful.
There are two types of assessments healthcare providers may use: a prick or scratch test or an intradermal test. The latter involves a larger amount of the allergen being injected under the skin as opposed to the allergen being pricked or scratched into the skin. Before the procedure, allergists may ask patients to keep track of their symptoms for a period of time – monitoring where they were when they felt most affected, the duration of the sensitivity and the medicines used to control them, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
With this information, medical professionals can understand whether the issue is seasonal or a more chronic condition like rhinitis, which causes irritation and inflammation in the mucous membrane within the nose.
3. Maintain good hygiene
Everyone likes to be outside, especially on nice days. Exposing seniors to the elements, especially mornings that are particularly windy, can cause troublesome allergy problems. Loved ones should be sure their family members are not only bathing frequently, but also cleansing themselves after spending time outdoors. This removes pollen that may get caught on clothing and skin and in hair, which can reduce the effect allergens have on seniors, according to Our Parents.
Clothes should then be washed and dried inside, instead of on a clothing line which can cause more wind-borne allergens to become trapped. If bathing isn't an option immediately after spending time outside, changing into a fresh outfit can act as a quick fix.
4. Eat the right foods
As a senior, it's important to maintain a healthy diet. Did you know that eating certain foods can decrease some allergy symptoms? According to Medical Alert Advice, apples, leafy greens, walnuts and items high in Vitamin C can reduce inflammation. Incorporating these foods into your diet can minimize some of the effects of allergens, especially if paired with the aforementioned steps.