Spring is a beautiful time of year in Louisville, KY, when budding trees and blooming flowers add a pop of color to our daily walks. However, as the plants start to bloom, the pollen count rises, and those of us affected by seasonal allergies start to suffer. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Louisville was the fourth most challenging city in the U.S. to live in for spring allergy sufferers.
Like millions of Americans, older adults are not immune to the stuffy noses and itchy eyes that accompany allergy season. However, seniors often have complicating factors that can make treating allergies more difficult. Here are some tips that can help you and a senior in your life cope with seasonal allergies.
Avoid traditional antihistamines. Antihistamines, which are commonly used to treat allergies, can be dangerous for seniors. Possible side effects from these types of medications include confusion, drowsiness, and dizziness. They can also cause changes in mood or behavior in the elderly and potentially negatively interact with other commonly prescribed medications. For a senior suffering from seasonal allergies, a doctor will usually prescribe a nasal steroid or some sort of topical medication.
Turn on the air conditioning. Keeping the windows closed will significantly reduce the amount of pollen allowed in the home.
Don’t hang clothes and linens outside to dry. By hanging clothes outside, pollen can collect in the fibers of the fabric, which will be worn all day. Instead, use the clothes dryer or hang them to dry inside.
Wear sunglasses while outside. These can protect eyes from pollen and other irritants. A hat may also help stop pollen from getting into the hair and on clothing.
Eat well. Nutritionists at the National Health Service believe foods that fight inflammation can help reduce symptoms caused by allergies. Some of these foods include walnuts, apples, flax seed, green leafy vegetables, and foods high in vitamin C. If you need advice on improving your nutrition, our Healthy Habits classes can help.
Most importantly, communicate with your primary care provider. If you are the caregiver for a loved one, be sure their primary care physician is aware of their allergies. If your loved one has other chronic conditions, it may be easy to overlook the symptoms of allergies. However, this is an important factor in their overall health and well-being and should be addressed as such.