Seniors and Seasonal Allergies

Did you know you can sell all or part of a life insurance policy, even term insurance?

(4 minute read)

Did you know that seasonal allergies can develop at any age? Allergist Kevin McGrath shared with WebMD that it’s common for individuals in their 60s and 70s with no history of asthma or other conditions to suddenly find themselves with itchy eyes, runny nose, and sore throat, among other symptoms. Allergy season is annoying for anyone who suffers, but as we get older, the symptoms of this affliction and the antihistamines that treat it can become more dangerous. Whether you’ve had “hay fever” your whole life or are just getting familiar with seasonal allergies, here’s what you need to know to stay safe.

Most Common Causes of Seasonal Allergies

Whether you call it seasonal allergies, hay fever, or by the medical name allergic rhinitis, the first thing you should know is that these allergies can be experienced year-round. They are most common in spring and summer because this is when most plants are releasing pollen. But depending on your unique allergy trigger, you may experience symptoms in more than one season. Here are the common triggers in each season:

  • Spring: spring allergies are often triggered by tree pollen as our leafy friends wake up from winter. This is true of all trees, but especially flowering trees. Birch is one of the most common pollen triggers, as well as cedar, poplar, willow, and chestnut.
  • Summer: the name “hay fever” comes from summer allergy season, when grass is the main culprit. During hay cutting season, many people used to notice these symptoms. Though you may not be working the farm, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation still counts grasses and weeds among the most common triggers.
  • Fall: have you ever heard of “ragweed?” About 1 in 5 allergy sufferers react to this pollen in the late summer and fall. It is actually released by 17 different species of weeds in North America, and this pollen is so light it has been found 2 miles up in the air and 400 miles out to sea.
  • Winter: in winter, hay fever sufferers are less likely to be exposed to pollen, though some plants do release pollen in these months. But spending more time indoors, you may be exposed to other common triggers of allergies like dust, pet dander, or mold.

Clearly, every season could present an issue for an allergy sufferer. But what will that mean you are experiencing?

Serious Symptoms of Allergies in Seniors

If you are starting to experience these allergy symptoms, or have been feeling them for a while, you may have seasonal allergies:

  • Itching: whether it’s your throat, the inside of your nose, your ears, or even your eyes, itching of these sensitive areas is a common symptom of allergies
  • Sneezing or Runny Nose: as your immune system tries to “attack” the allergen, it will produce lots of extra mucus which can lead to sinus congestion and drainage
  • Ear Pain: as your sinuses are overloaded this may cause your ears to hurt or feel like they are “popping”
  • Watery Eyes: this symptom is especially common when you are outdoors being directly exposed to the allergen
  • Headache: this symptom is less common than others on the list, but it may show up when allergies are more moderate to severe
  • Wheezing: this may be caused by mucus drainage into the chest, or allergic constriction of the bronchial tubes
  • Hives: if you directly come into contact with the pollen or other allergen like mold or pet dander, a patch of hives might develop in that area

Older people don’t experience different symptoms of allergies than anyone else. But it is true that in those with other conditions these symptoms can have a more serious effect. For instance, wheezing or difficulty breathing is far more serious when it happens in conjunction with a condition like heart disease. This is why allergy sufferers over the age of 55 should take these symptoms seriously. But that doesn’t mean you can immediately reach for the Benadryl like someone younger might do.

Safe Treatments for Seasonal Allergies

Antihistamines are the main treatment for seasonal allergies, but the potential side effects of these drugs may impact seniors more than is safe. These include confusion, dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth, and urine retention. In elderly patients with dementia or those who are a high risk for falls, these side effects are definitely more dangerous than the allergies, while urine retention may increase the risk for UTI in other patients. Lastly, one allergist pointed out to AgingCare that antihistamines can interact with other medications in unexpected ways.

For all these reasons, seniors who are suffering from allergies should first talk to their doctor about an appropriate treatment. The symptoms of allergies can be life-altering and should be treated appropriately. Your doctor may prescribe a nasal steroid or other treatment that can make the symptoms go away without increasing other risks.

There are also basic steps people can take to increase the effectiveness of these treatments and avoid allergy symptoms. Stay indoors from 10am-3pm, the peak hours of pollen release. When you go outside, wear sunglasses to protect your eyes and wash your hands right away when you go indoors. Check your newspaper or local news for the pollen counts and make sure you aren’t opening the windows or drying clothes outside on days when the pollen count is high.

Seasonal allergies are frustrating and can make us very uncomfortable, but they don’t have to take away your enjoyment of the beautiful natural world. Talk with a medical professional about your unique symptoms and other conditions to find the treatment that is right for you.

Did you know you can sell all or a portion of a life insurance policy, even term insurance? Selling an unwanted life insurance policy is no different than selling your car, home or any other valuable asset that will create immediate cash. Contact us today to learn more.

Leo LaGrotte
Life Settlement Advisors
llagrotte@lsa-llc.com
1-888-849-0887

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