What is allergy season?
When warmer weather comes around, so do seasonal allergies, which are also commonly referred to as hay fever. An estimated 35 million Americans start to sneeze and suffer from stuffed and inflamed sinuses, amongst other symptoms. This is because the warm weather brings about more airborne allergens in the form of pollens and molds. The allergy season is worsened when there is a higher than usual level of rainfall in winter and spring.
Who is at risk during the allergy season?
Everyone faces the possibility of suffering from allergies during allergy season, but the allergy season presents a few unique challenges for seniors in particular. This is because the pollens in the air can aggravate any existing cardiac and pulmonary conditions the seniors may have. Also, although the average person can rely on anti-histamines to minimize the effects of allergies, anti-histamines are not recommended for a large proportion of the senior population. This is because anti-histamines may increase blood pressure, and has a high chance of interacting with other medications that the seniors may be taking. As such, seniors need to rely on other methods of treatment in order to address seasonal allergies.
How to help seniors get through the allergy season safely?
Fortunately, there are a number of preventative measures we can take to help seniors get through the allergy season safely and successfully.
1) Avoid allergens and molds as much as possible
If you have the habit of taking frequent walks in the park or on hiking trails, try to switch your walking venue to the local shopping mall or other indoor locations. This way, you minimize your exposure to airborne allergens and molds. You can always switch back to walking outdoors when allergy season is over.
2) Avoid grassy areas
If you simply have to walk outside, try your best to avoid grassy areas or areas with lots of foliage. In particular, try to avoid areas with freshly mown grass. One good place to have outdoor activities during allergy season is the beach. The beach tends to have much lower pollen counts as compared to the mountains or other grassy areas. By doing this, you can minimize your exposure to pollens and other allergens even though you are walking outdoors. Of course, it is always safest to minimize your time outdoors while the allergy season is still on-going.
3) Keep your windows closed
This applies mostly to the nighttime since it might get too stuffy in your home if you keep the windows closed throughout the allergy season. By closing your windows at night, you can prevent pollens or molds from drifting into your home while you sleep.
4) Keep your car windows up while driving
Similar to the previous tip, it is advisable to keep your car windows up while you are driving. This ensures that pollens, mold, and other allergens will not drift into your car while you are on the road.
5) Use the air conditioner and dehumidifier
Make use of your air conditioner and dehumidifiers to keep the air in your homes clean, cool and dry. This minimizes the amount of pollen and mold in your homes, which will then minimize the symptoms of seasonal allergies.
6) Be aware of the local pollen count
Pollen counts fluctuate from day to day. If you stay aware of the local pollen count, you can plan your daily activities accordingly. For instance, you can know to avoid outdoor activities on days when the pollen count is high.
7) Wear a respiratory mask
If you absolutely need to be outdoors for long periods of time, try to wear a paper respiratory mask. This will help to reduce your exposure to airborne allergens. This is especially important on days when the pollen count is high.
8) Use the clothes dryer
It is advisable to use the clothes dryer instead of drying your clothing and linens on the line outdoors. Although line-dried clothing may have a wonderful “fresh” scent, they may also have a lot of pollens and mold collected on them.
9) Take a shower after being outdoors
After spending some time outdoors, it is possible that there is some pollen or mold clinging to your clothing, skin and hair. As such, it is a good idea to take a shower and have a change of clothes after entering your house, so as to ensure a minimal amount of pollen and mold in your home.
10) Recognize the symptoms and know when to seek medical assistance
While it is good to take note of all the available preventative measures, it is also important to be aware of which symptoms to look out for, and to know what to do when symptoms start to show. Even if your loved one has never been known to suffer season allergies in the past, it is still important to be on the lookout for traditional signs of allergies such as sneezing, coughing, itchy eyes, and a runny nose. If you spot any of these symptoms, alert their physician immediately. Rapid and aggressive treatment is the best way to cure seasonal allergies in a senior. It is also good to be aware of treatment options – like we have mentioned earlier, the regularly-used anti-histamines may not be an appropriate form of treatment for seniors. It is important that you know which treatment options are more appropriate.