Everything You Need To Know About Senior Allergies
Senior Allergies Overview
More than 50 million Americans endure allergies in a year; in fact, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that more than 7 million Americans of age 65 and above endure hay fever. While allergies can develop at any age, the prevalence of allergies increases with age. Repeated exposure to allergens can increase your sensitivity to the allergens as an adult. It is important to recognize the symptoms in all ages; it is especially more significant for senior citizens. Most of the time, allergies are mistaken to be the side effects of ongoing problems. Seasonal allergies can cause several problems for seniors, which require the constant assistance of a caretaker.
Perceivable Senior Allergy Symptoms
Every one in seven older adults has a lung disease which includes nasal discharge and sneezing as contributory symptoms to the respiratory illnesses. In this case, the seasonal allergy symptoms can be easily mistaken to be the side effects of lung disease in senior citizens. The symptoms of seasonal allergies are the same as for any other age bracket:
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Itchy throat or ear canals
- Watery or itchy eyes
- Ear congestion
Most people live with the misconception that older adults can not develop allergies. Remember that allergies can develop at any age, and so it is completely normal if any of your family members suffer through it at an adult age.
Common Senior Allergens
The first way to prevent seasonal allergy in seniors is to be aware of the common allergens that cause it. The most common triggers to the allergies are pollen, grass, dust, smoke, pine trees, mold, and chlorine.
In this case, the best thing to do is to observe and pay close attention to the allergens that cause immediate flare-ups in your old ones. It is only when you are able to figure out the exact cause of the allergy that you are able to find a cure or prevention for it.
Why Are Allergies More Dangerous For Seniors?
You need to pay attention to the seniors regarding allergies because it can significantly affect them compared to other age brackets. This is because senior citizens’ nose mucus membrane is way drier than the rest and has comparatively less elasticity, elevating chronic nasal congestion risk. This can be more dangerous for senior citizens with already compromised health with pre-existing conditions such as asthma, heart disease, etc. On top of that, medications can worsen the entire matter to a great extent.
A common allergy medication treatment, Antihistamines, may result in the rise of blood pressure. It can also react with other medications that the seniors might be taking for other health conditions that can lead to severe side effects like dry mouth, dizziness, confusion, or urinary retention. Besides these medications, there are several other prescriptions that your elderly might be taking that can intensity health issues. Beta-blockers is a medication that is often prescribed to elderly citizens to prevent hypertension which can increase nose stuffiness.
Overall, the allergy medications and other prescriptions for pre-existing health problems can interact with one another and cause issues which makes it imperative to be highly aware of the symptoms and minimize the exposure to allergens as much as possible. It is also important to consult a professional to opt for the right kind of medications, keeping in mind the existing health of the senior.
Preventative Tips for Senior Allergies
In order to improve the quality of life of your senior, you must be fully equipped with all the important tips that can help manage allergy symptoms. Even if they have allergies, taking them out to bathe in the sun and to practice exercise can help keep them healthy. However, at the same time, you need to ensure that they are safe and comfortable to practice the perfect management strategy for allergies.
- Keep a look at the signs
The first thing to do is watch for all the signs that might indicate allergy in seniors. Make sure to keep an eye on them while they are outdoors, especially during the pollen season. Any signs of runny nose, sneezing, or watery eyes should be immediately attended to.
- Consult a doctor
If your senior is suffering from cardiovascular or respiratory disease, allergy season can really put their health at serious risk. Therefore, it is important to consult a health specialist to give them the right kind of medicine instead of feeding them the regular one that worked for a teen. Senior citizens who have dementia or Alzheimer’s are often unable to express their discomfort due to seasonal allergies, so you must take your loved one to the doctor.
- Go for drug-free solutions
As mentioned earlier, any kind of medication is discouraged for older citizens because it can react with other medications. Seasonal allergies are triggered by airborne particles such as pollen or mold, and there are drug-free solutions that can work for your loved ones. Make sure that they wear sunglasses while they are outside to prevent eye exposure to such allergens. Monitor the pollen count and keep them in the house on the pollen-elevated days. Keep an eye on their condition and bring them indoors as soon as the symptoms flare-up.
- Stay safe at home
While you may presume that staying indoors is the best solution to prevent allergies, several preventative measures need to be taken in order to make your home pollen-free.
- Make sure to remove your shoes, wash your hands and take a shower as soon as you enter the home.
- Keep the windows and doors closed at all times and ensure to keep the windows up when traveling.
- Vacuum your home frequently and thoroughly to eliminate the possibility of dust mites and mold in the house. Deep clean the corners and curtains as well.
- If your home is air-conditioned, ensure that the unit is equipped with a high-efficiency filter and is serviced annually.
- If you own a pet, keep it away from the senior, and if it flares up the allergies, you might have to give it up.
Seasonal allergies can be a huge trouble for senior citizens as they might already be suffering from other health issues. Therefore, the other family members or caretakers need to be observant of their symptoms and ensure that they are kept in a supremely safe environment within their home.
Written by: Madiha Ather Hashmi (October 26, 2021)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019). 2018 National Health Interview Survey data. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- About 1 in 7 Older Adults Has Lung Disease: CDC
- Aging Dis. 2017 Apr; 8(2): 162–175 “Allergy and Aging: An Old/New Emerging Health Issue”
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Looking for more information on seasonal allergy lifestyles? See our page on Living With Allergies here.
Last Updated on November 8, 2021