Sneezy? Dopey? Sleepy? Grumpy?
With apologies to Snow White’s pint-sized friends, these words describe why this time of year so many of us wrestle with how to prevent seasonal allergies. Seasonal allergy, sometimes called hay fever or seasonal rhinitis, affects more than 9.8 million adults ages 65+. Spring allergy symptoms run the gamut from sneezing, stuffiness and a runny nose to itchy eyes and general fatigue. Seasonal allergy, sometimes called hay fever or seasonal rhinitis, is commonly caused by the weather swings in spring and fall. Blooming plants and falling leaves release pollen into the air, which settles on our clothes and skin and is inhaled into the nose and lungs. The pollen in our body can trigger an immune response in the form of an allergic reaction.
How to Avoid Allergies in the Spring
Seasonal allergies are particularly bothersome for seniors. As we age, our nasal membranes become less elastic and tend to dry out. This predisposes us to chronic allergic rhinitis and nasal stuffiness. It’s why the percentage of elderly people with nasal symptoms is usually more than the general population. And it’s a concern for seniors whose health is already compromised by a respiratory condition such as asthma or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Read on for tips and tricks on how to prevent seasonal allergies from getting the better of you.
Reduce Your Exposure
It’s a wonderful time of year to be outside enjoying the sunshine and fresh air. Reducing your exposure to allergens outdoors is a big factor in how to prevent spring allergies.
- Wear a mask or nasal filter, available at pharmacies.
- Stay indoors on dry and windy days. The best time to go outside is after it rains, which clears pollen from the air.
- Wait until midday to go outside, as pollen levels are highest in the morning.
- Don’t mow the lawn, pull weeds, or tackle other gardening tasks that stir up pollen.
- Change out of your clothes as soon as you come inside, and take a shower to wash off the pollen clinging to your hair and skin.
- Wash your clothes in a separate load to avoid spreading pollen to other garments.
Take Extra Precautions
If you want to learn how to prevent seasonal allergies, these tips will help you plan for and avoid any allergen triggers in your surroundings.
- Check the National Allergy Bureau website to see updated pollen forecasts for your area. If high pollen counts are forecasted, start taking allergy medications before symptoms start.
- Download an app to keep track of pollen levels in your area. My Pollen Forecast is a popular iPhone app.
- Check local TV or radio stations for updates on pollen forecasts.
- Keep doors and windows closed, even at night, when pollen is high.
- Keep your car windows closed when you’re driving, and set the air conditioning to recirculate.
- Don’t air blankets, towels, comforters, or other items outdoors, as pollen will settle on the surfaces.
- Shower before bed so you remove potential allergens from your hair and skin and aren’t breathing them in while you sleep.
Keep Indoor Air Clean
It’s impossible to control outside air quality, but there are things you can do to keep the air inside your home and car free of allergens.
- Remove your shoes and leave them outside your home so you don’t track allergens onto the flooring.
- Turn the air conditioning on to filter the air in your house or car.
- Replace the filters in your home and car more often during allergy season.
- An indoor air purifier with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter will help remove pollen and other allergens in your home.
- Vacuum your home and car more frequently during allergy season. A vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter is a good choice for allergy sufferers.
Try a Variety of Remedies
- Start taking allergy medications before the season starts, and be consistent in their use.
- Ask your physician to recommend a prescription or nonprescription, over-the-counter medication. See whether a combination of oral or nasal medication has any effect.
- Irrigating your nasal passages is a nonmedicated treatment that can relieve nasal congestion. neti pots or other devices for nasal cleansing are available at pharmacies.
- Traditional therapies such as acupuncture have been shown to have some effect on allergy symptoms.
For most seniors, avoiding allergens and taking over-the-counter medications are enough to control seasonal allergies. If you’re not finding relief, it may be worth talking with a specialist and getting tested to see exactly which allergens trigger your symptoms. Testing can help you decide what steps to take and which treatments will work best for you.
No Need to Be Bashful!
Let your well-being take center stage. Our wellness programming nurtures every dimension of your wellness: physical, social, emotional, mental, spiritual, and more. Enjoy a foundation of healthy meals prepared from scratch, energizing activities planned on and off campus, and a program of Fit and Friendly fitness classes that keeps you at your vital best. Spring, summer, winter, fall — there’s no time like the present to reach out and learn more about Holly Hall, a community where you can be Happy year-round.