Ah, the weather is finally warming up and summer is just around the corner! Although we are all ready for the sunshine, for many, this beautiful weather – and new blooming foliage – comes with a price: allergies!
Many people suffer with allergies, particularly pollen. Seasonal allergic rhinitis is nasal allergies that changes with the seasons because of pollen from plants (trees, grasses, or weeds). Unfortunately, this type of allergen can be very difficult to avoid, since every time you step out of your house, you are surrounded by the very things that can get your eyes watering, sinuses clogged and lungs wheezing. Your symptoms may get worse at different times throughout the year and in some cases may be constant.
But there are ways to diminish the effects of seasonal allergies on your health:
- Schedule your outdoor activities, including exercise, in the early morning or evening, since this is the time when the pollen count is lowest. Know that pollen counts typically are higher on hot, windy, sunny day compared with a cool day without much wind.
- When indoors, keep windows closed and use the air conditioner to reduce the pollen inside your home.
- If you need to be outdoors, wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from allergens. When you come in, shower and wash your hair so that the pollen is washed off your skin and hair, and doesn’t get into your bed linens. Check the dog. Pets can bring in pollen; you might consider rinsing off the dog if he or she was outside in a high-pollen day.
- If you are exposed to pollen, ask your doctor about using a nasal spray to clear your nasal passages. Additionally, ask about over-the-counter preventative allergy medications, which might help relieve your symptoms or block your allergic reaction, these include antihistamines, topical nasal steroids, decongestants and daily Vitamins C help to build your immune system.
For older adults and their caregivers, it is good to keep in mind that as we age, our bodies do not metabolize medications as well as they did when we were younger. Even over-the-counter medications can have longer lasting effects, such as prolonged sleepiness or dryness. It is important to speak with your doctor if you notice unusual or long-lasting side effects to any medication that you or a loved one is taking.
Taking just a few simple steps can alleviate your allergy symptoms and help you enjoy this well-deserved beautiful weather!
By Uwa Oriakhi, RN, MSN, FNP