As the weather begins to transition into the warmer spring weather (thanks goodness!), there are also negative factors that come with the sunshine. There is also another yellow pest: pollen. This can stir up allergies in people, and other seasonal allergies that someone may suffer from. Senior citizens are also included in this category. In a series of blog posts, we are highlighting the issue of allergies, the types of allergies there are, the way to test for allergies, solutions for sufferers and more. The health of our seniors is a top priority, no matter the season.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), allergies are the 6th leading cause of chronic illness in the US. There are as many as 50 million Americans that suffer from allergies each year. This also includes millions of our senior citizens.
What exactly is an “allergy”? The CDC defines allergies as “an overreaction of the immune system to substances that generally do not affect other individuals.” The people who do suffer from allergies may experience symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, or itching. Most allergy systems are not life-threatening; however, they can lead to or affect other more serious illnesses such as asthma.
Allergies are not preventable, but allergic reactions or the severity of the symptoms can be. When a person is properly diagnosed about which type of allergies they suffer from, they can work to prevent getting in contact with these allergens. A senior citizen (or caretaker of the senior citizen), can consult with a doctor about strategies that can help minimize symptoms or take initiatives such as being immunized with allergy injection therapy.
How This Applies to Seniors
How do allergies affect senior citizens? How can suffering of symptoms be minimized for senior citizens? In an article published on “AgingCare.com”, editor-in-chief Anne-Marie Botek talks with Christopher Randolph, M.D. who is a member of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology’s Asthma and Allergic Diseases in the Elderly Committee. He lays out a few guidelines of how caregivers can help make allergy season bearable for senior citizens they may be caring for:
1. Look for signs: There are tale-tale signs such as sneezing, runny nose, or itchy eyes that a caregiver should be on the lookout for.
2. Make sure their doctor knows: If the caregiver sees these signs in their elderly patient or loved one, consult the senior citizen’s regular doctor. Many senior citizens also suffer from one or more chronic health issues; which makes it more difficult to separate a potential allergy from other ongoing diseases.
3. Be aggressive: If you suspect your senior citizens is suffering from allergies, get them diagnosed and treated properly. This keeps larger issues or reactions from occurring later on. It also helps increases the quality of life for the senior citizen to enjoy day to day activities such as a walk through the local park.
The full article can be read here: (http://www.agingcare.com/Articles/help-elders-survive-allergy-season-150138.htm).
If you know the signs and ways to prevent suffering, allergies can be coped with. Next week we will discuss ways to properly test for allergies in senior citizens.
[This article was also written with the help of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Gateway to Health Communication article.]