Many of us look forward to Spring every year and are thrilled to see everything get greener and watch the flowers start to blossom all around us. If you moved to Florida for the warmer weather, it’s also when temperatures start to go up and we leave the chillier nights behind us.
However, Spring is also the time of year that many people start suffering from allergies again, as the plants and flowers spring to life and release pollen in the air. And while we may enjoy the Spring weather and beautiful scenery all around us, many of us do so with stuffy sinuses and congestion headaches.
This year, unfortunately, these seasonal allergies are coinciding with the coronavirus – or COVID-19 – pandemic that’s sweeping across the globe. That means a lot of people of all ages are paying much closer attention to any symptoms remotely close to those of the flu or a cold. Indeed, while it’s a time to be cautious and alert about what your body is doing, that doesn’t mean every sneeze or tickling sensation in your throat is a COVID-19 infection.
For the most part, seasonal allergy symptoms consist of itchy eyes, a runny nose, coughing, and sneezing. Many people also feel a sense of pressure in their sinuses and may be prone to headaches. On the other hand, a coronavirus infection can cause a fever, shortness of breath, and a more persistent cough, as well as exhaustion and fatigue. Some patients have also noticed they lose their sense of smell and taste before any other symptoms occur.
While the two conditions are very different, though, suffering seasonal allergies might make you more susceptible to a coronavirus infection because the virus may have an easier path into your body. Also, it’s important to point out that, even though seasonal allergies involve your immune system attacking allergens that are introduced into your body, that doesn’t mean your immune system is any better able to defend you against the virus.
How seasonal allergies impact seniors
As we age, we don’t become less susceptible to seasonal allergies, which is a common misconception. In fact, because many seniors are dealing with chronic medical conditions, it can make the symptoms seem worse and inhibit the immune system from fighting the allergens off. People who suffer from cardiovascular disease, impaired respiratory function, or diabetes, for example, need to be especially careful in managing the symptoms of an allergic reaction.
And while it is generally good for everybody, including seniors, to go outdoors and get some exercise, this is one time you should use some restraint or try to find a way to exercise indoors. Once the allergy season passes, you can go outside and enjoy long walks in the fresh air.
If you find yourself suffering from seasonal allergies, it’s a good idea to start paying attention to the pollen count in your area, which is usually part of your local weather forecast, especially when the count is high. There are also weather apps that you can download onto your smartphone that will keep you informed about how much pollen is in the air.
What you should do
First of all, keep your doctor in the loop on what’s going on with your allergies. while seasonal allergies themselves are typically not severe or dangerous, if the symptoms linger for long enough, they could grow into a serious respiratory illness like bronchitis or even pneumonia. This is especially true for seniors because your immune system slowly weakens as you age.
Additionally, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
-Clean up after going outdoors. Pollen practically invisible and when there is a lot of it in the air, it gets on everything. It gets on your skin and in your hair and gets all over your clothes. So, if you wash your hands and even take a shower after spending time outside, it will get rid of that pollen and keep it from getting in your system.
-Adjust your diet. Some foods are thought to fight inflammation, which is an aggravating factor with an allergic reaction. Apples, ginger, walnuts, leafy green vegetables, and flaxseed, as well as any food that is high in vitamin C, can help keep symptoms down.
-Keep your air conditioning unit maintained. Make sure it is serviced by a licensed and certified HVAC professional and change the filters regularly. It’s also a good idea to use a High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter because it can remove most allergens from the air.
-Finally, try not to overuse antihistamines, which can be dangerous to seniors. Some of the potential side effects may include drowsiness and dizziness, as well as dryness in the mouth and eyes. Also, don’t use nose sprays more than absolutely necessary. Over time, they can lose their effectiveness if used too often.