Tips to Prevent Spring Allergies in Seniors Living in Retirement Communities
Published on April 23, 2021
Approximately one in five Canadians suffer from respiratory allergies and 75% of asthma patients also have seasonal allergies, according to asthma.ca. Spring allergies can hinder the quality of life in people of all ages, but they can be especially hard on seniors.
While younger people can simply take over-the-counter allergy medications containing antihistamines, this isn’t always an option for seniors. Over-the-counter medications contain a lot of medicinal and non-medicinal ingredients that could interact badly with the ingredients in medications that seniors are taking for other health conditions. Moreover, they could also increase the risk of high blood pressure and other potentially serious health conditions or make them harder to manage.
With that said, seniors living in retirement communities in Ontario should still be able to enjoy the beautiful spring weather without having to contend with severe allergy symptoms. If you have a senior loved one who has recently developed spring allergies or has been suffering from them for a long time, this article contains some great allergy symptom prevention tips for seniors living in retirement communities.
What Causes Spring Allergies in Seniors?
When allergens like pollen and dust enter into your system, they elicit a strong immune response. Your immune system doesn’t recognize that allergens aren’t harmful; it only knows that foreign particles have entered into your body and goes into immediate action to attack and eliminate them. While in defense mode, your immune system releases large quantities of histamines into your bloodstream to fight off this perceived threat. Histamines are what cause common allergy symptoms. In a way, you can consider these symptoms a good thing because they indicate that your immune system is hard at work fighting off a potential threat to your health. But that doesn’t make them any less uncomfortable, especially for older adults.
Of course, people of all ages can experience spring allergies to varying degrees. But, did you know that many people can develop spring allergies much later in life? That’s because as people get older, they can develop a condition known as geriatric rhinitis. Basically, this means that the cartilage that supports the structure of the nose weakens over time, which leads to more mucus buildup and narrow airways. Seniors with this condition have a much harder time breathing. Constantly taking labourious breaths can dry out the nasal passages, causing discomfort and sometimes pain.
To add insult to injury, many of the over-the-counter or prescription allergy medications on the market contain ingredients that can further exacerbate nasal dryness in seniors.
Spring Allergy Symptoms in Seniors
Seniors can experience many of the same spring allergy symptoms as young people. Spring allergy symptoms in seniors can include:
Stuffed, runny, red nose
Itchiness around the nose, mouth, and eyes
Blocked nasal passages
Pressure buildup in the nose and cheeks
General physical irritation and discomfort
Spring Allergy Prevention Tips for Seniors
Identify Potential Allergens
Knowledge is power when it comes to dealing with potential allergy symptoms. Take the necessary steps to help your senior loved one avoid potential allergens that may be lowering their quality of life.
Get Allergy Testing
The most effective way to identify the cause and type of spring allergies in seniors is to get an allergy test. Allergy specialists can perform a series of tests that detect the exact source of specific allergy symptoms, including the most common ones that are typically airborne such as pollen. Tests include skin or prick tests or injections. Skin/prick tests involve introducing a trace amount of the allergen to the surface of the skin to see the reaction. Injection tests involve injecting a trace amount of diluted allergens into the bloodstream through the skin of your backside or arm.
A blood test may also be in order in some cases to determine the amount of allergen-specific antibodies that exist in your bloodstream. These antibodies could be the source of your allergy symptoms every time you come into contact with various allergens.
Avoid Outdoor Activities on High Pollen Days
Trial and error is another tried and true convenient form of allergy testing. If you notice that your senior loved one only starts exhibiting allergy symptoms when they’re around certain potential allergens, try removing those allergens from their presence for a period of time and see if their symptoms improve or go away. This process of elimination can help you determine what elements are contributing to or causing allergy symptoms without forcing your senior loved one to undergo somewhat invasive testing procedures and disrupting their lifestyle.
Identifying potential allergens makes it easier to avoid them altogether so that your senior loved one can enjoy a good quality of life without being burdened by allergy symptoms.
Take Special Precautions
Use an air purifier to clean the air and remove airborne allergens.
Ask people to remove their shoes and outerwear when entering your senior loved one’s living space to avoid tracking in pollen and other allergens from outside.
Use a dryer or indoor clothesline instead of hanging clothes outside to dry after doing laundry, so that they don’t come into contact with airborne pollen and other allergens.
Keep windows closed and avoid going outside on high pollen days if possible. Turn on the air conditioning instead to maintain a cool comfortable temperature for your senior loved one.
Escape Spring Allergies Symptoms in Retirement Communities across Ontario
At V!VA Retirement Communities in Ontario, we strive to make senior living in our communities as comfortable and pleasurable as possible. Our goal is to help improve the quality of life of our Community Members. We take a multitude of special precautions to limit spring allergy exposures and symptoms in seniors living in our retirement communities in Ontario. Contact us today to learn more.