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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Your Nose Knows: Dealing With Seasonal Allergies

A late spring quickly followed by summer in much of the country could mean a double whammy for those suffering from seasonal allergies, as both summer and spring pollen hit at the same time. Seniors may have a more difficult time than younger people for several reasons: Antihistamine medicine, which alleviates the effects of allergies can interfere with other drugs. Seniors often take multiple medications, and mixing them with antihistamines can cause potentially dangerous reactions, increase blood pressure and cause drowsiness and dizziness.

Also, as people age, their immune system’s defenses often become weaker, and conditions such as congestive heart failure and sleep apnea can intensify allergies and make a person ill. Before using an over-the-counter allergy medicine, talk to your physician or pharmacist.

Symptoms and Standard Treatments

How do you know you’re suffering from an allergy? Symptoms include a runny/stuffy nose; sore, itchy eyes/nose/throat; frequent sinus symptoms, frequent respiratory infections and laryngitis/hoarse voice.

Over-the-counter allergy treatments are designed to alleviate symptoms. The most common ones are:
  • Antihistamines
  • Decongestants
  • Nasal spray decongestants (which should not be used for more than three days)
  • Cromolyn sodium nasal spray
  • Eye drops
  • Nasal irrigation

If over-the-counter remedies don’t help, your doctor may recommend a prescription medication:
  • Corticosteroid nasal sprays
  • Leukotriene receptor antagonists (LTRAs) such as Singulair
  • Atrovent (ipratropium bromide) nasal spray
  • Allergy shots

To read the full length of this article, including the causes of allergies and measures you can take during allergy season, visit the June Senior Spirit newsletter. 

Article provided by the Society of Certified Senior Advisors