Millions of Americans suffer from seasonal allergies, and each season presents its own distinct challenges. Summer sun and fun can also bring with it sneezing and sniffling, thanks to weeds such as ragweed and various grasses.

Allergy season can be particularly challenging for those with a chronic condition. Traditionally, antihistamines are the go-to medication for treating allergy symptoms. When it comes to treating senior citizens with antihistamines, however, doctors are cautious because these medications can have adverse effects, such as a rise in blood pressure or counteractions with other medications that these patients may be taking.

Your Premier Home Health Care Services, Inc. care management team can help communicate with your medical team about any medications you may be taking, and discuss options for allergy relief. Our home health care professionals can ensure that medications are taken as prescribed and monitor your existing conditions, allergy symptoms and any potential reactions to new medications.

We have put together a useful list of tips and precautionary measures to help reduce your exposure to summer allergens so that you can enjoy a beautiful summer.

The Offenders

  • Pollen is typically responsible for many seasonal allergies and can aggravate cardiac and pulmonary conditions. Weeds and grasses take the top two spots as major summer offenders. Ragweed, as previously noted, is one of the most common summer triggers and it affects those from distances near and far, since it can travel hundreds of miles by wind.
  • Summer Air Pollution. Ozone is one of the most common summer air pollutants that can make your allergy symptoms worse. Air pollution is the result of a combination of sunlight, nitrogen oxide, and hydrocarbons. Light summer winds and stronger sunlight can create clouds of ozone around cities.
  • Insect Bites. Stings and bites from bees, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets and other insects can cause serious and life-threatening allergic reactions in some people. Be on the lookout for fire ants, too.
  • Mold grows in damp, indoor areas like basements and bathrooms. Mold spores can travel through the air and cause problems for those with a mold allergy.
  • Dust Mites. These microscopic insects peak during the summer months and love warm, humid places like beds, fabrics, and carpets. When their residue gets into the air, it can trigger wheezing, sneezing, and runny noses.

Noting traditional signs of allergies (such as sneezing, a runny nose and itchy or watery eyes) is a critical step in getting you the medical attention you need to relieve your symptoms. Below are some important tips to follow when your allergies kick in:

When the Symptoms Kick In

  • Making the Doctor Aware. Elderly patients often have multiple chronic health issues, so it may be difficult for doctors to diagnose them with an allergy since they tend to focus on the larger health issues. Be clear with your doctor; describe your symptoms and explain any changes you may be experiencing.
  • Don’t Wait. For most allergy suffers, a congested nose or irritated throat is not an emergency, but for seniors who have pre-existing cardiovascular problems, these conditions can be extremely serious and may require immediate medical treatment.
  • As previously mentioned, traditional antihistamines can be dangerous to seniors because of their potential side effects. Elevated blood pressure, confusion, drowsiness, urinary retention, dry mouth/dry eyes and dizziness (along with possible changes in mood or behavior) may lead to serious counteractions. Doctors will most likely prescribe a nasal steroid or topical medication instead of an antihistamine.
  • Clear Nasal Passages. Using a saline solution (nasal irrigation) is a cheap and excellent way to rinse your nasal passages and flush out mucus and allergens from your nose. A neti pot is best, since it is specifically designed for nasal rinsing, but a squeeze bottle will also do the job. Just be sure to use distilled water. (Also, make sure you rinse your device after each use with distilled water.)

Avoid Allergy Triggers

  • Stay indoors. Plan to stay indoors when the pollen count or smog levels are high. Using free services from The Weather Channel, The American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology and Pollen.com  are great ways to get alerts when the pollen levels are high, and can help you plan outings for the days when the counts are projected to be the lowest. Avoid going outside in the early morning, because the pollen counts are highest during this time. The best time for outdoor activity is after it rains, for this is when most of the pollen is cleared from the air.
  • Use the Air Conditioning in Home and Car. Keeping the windows closed and the air conditioning on helps to prevent pollens and molds from entering your home and vehicle.
  • Avoid Hanging/Drying Laundry Indoors. Hanging your laundry outside invites pollen, ragweed and other flying allergens to collect on your clothes. Instead, use a clothes dryer or hang them inside.
  • Use an Air Purifier. Use a portable HEPA (portable high-efficiency particulate air) filter in your bedroom.
  • Use High-Efficiency Air Filters. For homes with central heating and cooling systems, it’s recommended to use high-efficiency air filters, and to change them according to the recommended maintenance schedule.
  • Wear Sunglasses and a Hat. Sunglasses can prevent pollen and other seasonal allergens from getting into your eyes. Wearing a hat can prevent them from landing in your hair and working their way down onto your clothes and hands.
  • Wash Hands/Shower. Washing your hands when you get back inside is a quick and easy way to remove any allergens that you may have encountered. If you’ve spent a considerable amount of time outside, it is recommended to shower and put your dirty clothes in a hamper immediately to avoid any allergens from spreading around your house.

We hope you have found this information on seasonal allergies helpful. To learn more about Premier Home Health Care Services, Inc., please call 1-866-648-5119. Wishing you a happy and healthy summer!