Spring is finally here. Most of us are excited about the warmer weather and looking forward to spending some time outdoors. Trees will be budding, and spring flowers will be popping up from the ground. But, for some people, all the new green leaves and colorful flowers mean their spring allergies are back.
Developing Allergies in Later Years
When you think of someone being newly diagnosed with allergies, do you automatically picture a child? It’s true that most people get allergies when they are children, but allergies can develop at any time in a person’s life, even into old age.
Allergies occur when a person’s body wrongly determines that a substance, like pollen, is bad for you. The body responds to the allergen by releasing chemicals to fight it, including histamine. The chemicals are what cause the allergy symptoms.
Experts say that hay fever, or allergic rhinitis, is being diagnosed more often in the United States these days. They’re not sure why, though. There are several theories, including:
- More air pollution.
- A larger population of dust mites.
- Homes and offices aren’t ventilated as well as they used to be.
- Sedentary lifestyles.
- Decreased exposure to bacteria, which impedes the development of the immune system.
The most common allergen during the spring is pollen. When it gets into the nose of a senior with a pollen allergy, it causes symptoms ranging from mild to severe. Some allergy symptoms are:
- Runny nose.
- Stuffy nose.
- Eyes that water or itch.
- A feeling of itchiness in the sinuses, throat, or ears.
- Congested, or plugged, ears.
- Postnasal drip.
- Circles under the eyes.
- Feeling short of breath.
If you suspect your parent has allergies, they should see a doctor. The doctor may want them to see a doctor who specializes in allergies. Testing for allergies usually involves a skin test in which the doctor pricks the skin with a small amount of the suspected allergen. Or, they may inject a little of the allergen just beneath the skin. If a hive forms at the site of the prick or injection, it means your parent is allergic to that substance. In some cases, a blood test may also be needed.
Home care can help older adults diagnosed with spring allergies to manage their symptoms. A home care provider can remind your parent to take their allergy medications. They can also keep windows closed on days when pollen levels are high, using fans or air conditioning to cool the house instead. Home care providers can also dust the house to remove pollens from surfaces where it may settle.
IF YOU OR AN AGING LOVED-ONE ARE CONSIDERING HOME CARE SERVICES IN ROLESVILLE, NC, PLEASE CONTACT THE CARING STAFF AT SENIORS HELPING SENIORS TODAY. CALL (919) 761-5346.
Kathy is a Certified Dementia Practitioner (CDP) who is active in several other senior related organizations, including Alzheimer’s State Champion program, Friends of the Northern Wake Senior Center board member, Ambassador for the Rolesville Chamber of Commerce, Aging Life Care Association (ALCA), Health Affairs Round Table (HART), and Senior Information Networking Group (SING).