While allergies are frequently thought to be a condition occurring early on in life, seniors aren’t exempt from troublesome symptoms of allergies. And, research shows age-related immune system changes might leave the elderly at a higher risk for infections, autoimmune diseases, and allergic inflammation. To make matters even worse, seniors frequently have chronic conditions as well as take multiple medicines that could make it hard to diagnose and treat allergies.
Allergies in Seniors
Allergy-related disorders are something you typically relate to childhood health, but, estimates show the prevalence of allergies in seniors is around 5% to 10%. While some individuals do grow out of their allergies, other individuals will have allergies that persist into their older age. Certain seniors might even develop allergies in their old age for the first time.
Allergy Symptoms in Seniors
An allergy diagnosis in older individuals is extremely important. This is because if the signs of allergies are overlooked, it can increase their risk of stroke. There are various symptoms linked with seasonal allergies, including:
- Water eyes
- Itchy throat, sinuses, or ear canals
- Sleep disturbance
- Weakness and fatigue
- Postnasal drainage or stuffy nose
- Aches and pain
- Dark circles under the eyes
The severity and timing of an allergy season will vary throughout the country. Climatic factors influence how bad symptoms might be. For instance:
- Molds grow faster in areas with high humidity and heat
- On days with no wind, it grounds airborne allergies
- Pollen levels peak in the early hours of the morning
- When the day is warm and windy, pollen counts surge
- Grass and tree pollens tend to thrive during warm days and cool nights
Allergy Causes in Seniors
Typically, older people’s immune systems mean an increased vulnerability to infection troubles with autoimmunity and a reduced response to vaccinations and wound healing. Senior bodies have a hard time protecting themselves against substances like mold, pollen or pet dander.
Because of immunosenescence, seniors have a higher chance of experiencing a change in how their bodies handle attacking allergens, as well as specific drugs and foods.
Allergy Testing for Seniors
If allergies become serious, your physician might refer you to an allergy specialist for an allergy test. A common test is a skin test where the allergy clinic doctor pricks your skin or scratches it with a series of small needles, each that contain a distinct allergen. If your skin reacts by becoming itchy, red or swollen, it means you’re allergic to that particular substance.
They might perform a blood or skin allergy test. Most allergists prefer skin tests as it’s the standard practice and seems to be the most correct. If there’s an event where medicine is interfering with the test’s interpretation or in the case of serious skin rashes, the doctor will order a blood test.
Allergy Relief and Treatment Options for Seniors
When older adults are dealing with allergies, it’s essential to isolate other pre-existing conditions’ symptoms and others that might be due to offending allergens. Since allergies could arise from just combining wrong medicines, always check with the physician before you add a new supplement or pill to your regimen.
Each allergy type can be treated in various ways, but, the most common allergy treatment techniques are:
Antihistamines are the most common form of allergy treatment, particularly for younger individuals. Antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine and chlorpheniramine, are basically effective in decreasing itching, sneezing and rhinorrhea.
2. Anti-Inflammatory Nasal Spray
A lot of these medicines are safe for seniors to use. For most individuals, they are effective in decreasing itching, sneezing, rhinorrhea and congestion with very little side effects. Common nonsteroidal agents include:
These medications are used for decreasing nasal swelling which relieves congestion. Pseudoephedrine is the most common used decongestant, but it does have the possibility of stimulating your nervous system to cause side effects, such as:
4. Immunotherapy and Emergency Options
If the available medicines are not effective or carry risks too high for senior patients, immunotherapy is another treatment option.
Basically, you’re injected with very small amounts of the allergen and the allergy specialist eventually increases the dose, so you develop a resistance. It’s an effective long-term treatment that reduces the symptoms of asthma, rhinitis, insect stings and conjunctivitis.
For individuals experiencing intense reactions to certain insect venoms and food allergens, it’s typically a good idea to carry an auto-injectable epinephrine around with you. These devices can be used for preventing serious anaphylaxis, which could be a huge medical emergency if left unattended.
If you’re an older adult and are concerned with allergies, contact an ENT clinic about receiving a diagnosis and treatment. There are ways to help relieve your symptoms.