Spring is here! Flowers and trees are starting to bloom, the birds are singing, and the sun is shining. We can all say goodbye to the cold gloom of winter and say hello to the longer, warmer days that spring affords us! Yes, spring is beautiful, but it is also painful to many as it marks the start of allergy season.
It is estimated that more than 50 million people across the country suffer from allergies each year. According to research, they are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S.! Unfortunately, allergies are often unrecognized and therefore go untreated in seniors.
Allergies are an inflammatory condition that can have a greater impact on seniors than in the younger population due to age-related changes in their immune systems. Allergies are an abnormal response of the immune system where the body's defenses react to a usually harmless substance in the environment, such as pollen, animal dander, or food.
Actually, almost anything can trigger an allergic reaction. But in the spring, more often than not, POLLEN is the culprit! As pollen levels rise, you may hear people say they have hay fever, which is another term for seasonal allergies. They aren’t actually allergic to hay but seasonal pollen or other irritants.
Here are some basic symptoms associated with seasonal allergies:
1. itchy eyes, nose, and throat
2. sneezing and / or coughing
3. stuffy or runny nose
4. watery eyes
6. dark circles under your eyes
7. aches and pains
8. fatigue and weakness
You can take some action now to prevent symptoms from slowing you down. Some symptoms can lead to more serious illnesses, including sinus infections, ear infections, and upper respiratory infections.
1. When pollen counts start to rise, limit time outdoors
2. Keep your windows and doors closed when pollen is at its peak
3. Change your air conditioner filter, keep the air circulating to filter the outdoor air or use an air purifier indoors to clean the air of pollen
4. Wash your hands frequently especially when returning from the outdoors
5. Avoid outdoor activities that stir up pollen, such as lawn mowing, and wear a mask if they cannot be avoided
6. Dry your laundry in the machine, not outdoors on a clothes line, to keep pollen off your clothes and bedding
7. Avoid visiting with people who have colds
8. Learn the triggers for your allergies and avoid them
Treatments include over-the-counter products, prescription drugs, and allergy shots. Your doctor will know the correct treatment for your particular allergy! Still, you can prevent some symptoms by staying indoors when pollen counts are high and always running the air conditioning. Hopefully you can avoid some of the uncomfortable symptoms of allergic reactions from happening to you this spring and summer!