Older man is standing in nature and sneezing, suffering from senior allergies

It’s summertime! Now that the long, cold winter and wet springtime are over, we can finally enjoy the great outdoors. For older adults, getting out into the beauty of nature, fresh air, and sunshine is especially important for both mental and physical health. Regrettably, however, it can possibly trigger seasonal allergic reactions. And this is only one kind of allergy that becomes more common as people age.

What are the Most Common Senior Allergies?

Along with pollen allergies, which affect millions of people of all ages, older adults are at a greater risk for the following types of allergic conditions:

  • Allergic reactions to stings or insect bites
  • Skin allergies
  • Food and medication allergies

Because allergy symptoms can be extremely dangerous and even life-threatening, it’s crucial to understand the particular allergies impacting an individual and what treatment plans exist. It begins by scheduling an appointment with the primary care physician to learn if allergy testing is needed. If that’s the case, a referral will be made to an allergist, who can test for a variety of potential allergens and prescribe an appropriate treatment plan.

Common Allergy Symptoms and Rreatments for Seniors

Here’s what an older adult may be experiencing during an allergic episode, and what the allergist may recommend to help:

  • Skin allergies: With thinner, drier skin, older adults are usually at greater risk for allergic reactions to poison sumac, ivy, or oak, in addition to skin care items such as lotion and soap. Itchy, red, or swollen skin can be soothed with topical steroids and ointments and/or antihistamines. Scratching could make the symptoms worse. If you notice a rash that spreads quickly or is causing pain or any type of green or yellow discharge or fever, get medical attention right away.
  • Allergies to pollen: Common symptoms include nasal congestion or a runny nose, sneezing, coughing, and itchiness in the eyes, nose, and/or throat. Over-the-counter nasal steroids which are sprayed straight into the nose are often highly effective. It’s also helpful to keep close track of pollen levels. On days when the pollen count is higher, encourage older loved ones to stay in an air-conditioned environment.
  • Insect allergies: The venom from fire ants or bees can cause pain, swelling, and redness. When the immune system overreacts, however, dangerous symptoms such as nausea, coughing, dizziness, shortness of breath and more can occur, as well as anaphylaxis – as quickly as five minutes after a bite or sting. Call 911 immediately if a negative reaction is noted in an older adult.
  • Medication allergies: Insulin, antibiotics, antiseizure and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and anything containing iodine are common allergy-inducing medications. Symptoms can vary widely but may include hair loss, swelling, breathing problems, vomiting or diarrhea, nausea, and itching. Talk with the doctor immediately if an allergy to a medication is suspected.
  • Food allergies: Similar to insect allergies, food allergies can lead to dire consequences. The most common allergy-inducing foods include tree nuts, soy, wheat, milk, eggs, shellfish, and peanuts. Food allergy symptoms range between congestion and sneezing to hives and itching, vomiting, diarrhea, and anaphylaxis. Prevention is essential. The allergist might provide an epi-pen for the senior to carry at all times and use at the first sign of an allergic reaction to food.

At Absolute Companion Care, our caregivers are skilled in observing and reporting any changes in condition immediately. Contact us at 410-357-9640 to learn more ways we can help the older adults you love stay safe, healthy, and thriving with our award-winning care services. Our caregivers provide dedicated in-home care to individuals in Monkton, Hunt Valley, Towson, Cockeysville, Timonium and the surrounding communities.