Maryland’s temperate climate and early spring weather results in an abundance of pollen in most years and also a high prevalence of hay fever and other seasonal allergies. Scientists say that allergic reactions are the most common of all immunological diseases and are one of the most widespread chronic human health problems for people in developed countries. Most seasonal allergies are limited to annoying, but fairly benign symptoms, such as a runny nose and excessive sneezing. But, these symptoms can sometimes evolve into sinus or upper respiratory infections. To further complicate matters, the severity and symptoms of seasonal allergies can evolve throughout a person’s life.
Seasonal Allergy Symptoms
Seasonal allergies impact different people in slightly different ways. It is also important to understand that some common allergy symptoms can also be indicators of another health issue. This is why it is important to always consult with a medical professional, instead of relying on a self diagnosis. Common symptoms of seasonal allergies include:
- Itchy and watery eyes.
- Runny nose.
- Chest congestion and/or nasal congestion.
- Coughing, wheezing or shortness of breath.
- Itchy skin and hives.
- Dark undereye circles.
- Sore throat.
- Clogged ears or ear pain.
- Asthma attacks and swelling of the tongue (this usually signifies a more serious allergic reaction).
Allergies and Age
Although experts are not entirely sure why, allergies often evolve and change throughout the course of a person’s life. For example, a person could have fairly severe seasonal allergies between the ages of 5-16, then the allergies might lie dormant for several years and resurface around the age of 30, and then disappear completely around the age of 65.
Research to better understand why allergies change over time is still ongoing, but some scientists theorize that our bodies have the ability to adjust to allergens over time. According to this theory, people who live in one area for a long period, may have reduced seasonal allergies. Other researchers believe that allergies may become less severe for older adults who are exposed to fewer people and fewer germs. With this theory, the idea is that the immune system can better defend against allergens if it is not also warding off infections.
However, for many people, seasonal allergies become worse (instead of better) later in life. Antihistamines that are often taken to keep allergy symptoms at bay can also increase blood pressure and interact adversely with certain medications. So, some older adults experience worse allergy systems simply because they can no longer take allergy medication. There may be a number of reasons why allergy symptoms may worsen over time, including:
- Medications that exacerbate allergy symptoms.
- Exposure to a new set of allergens due to a geographic move.
- Reactions that become stronger with each exposure to the allergen.
If you believe you are suffering from seasonal allergies, it is important to schedule an appointment with your doctor. Your doctor can rule out other, potentially more serious illnesses and put you on a path to feeling better. If left untreated, allergies can sometimes lead to serious infections. Here are some suggestions to lessen the symptoms of seasonal allergies:
- Pollen travels through the air, so ensure your home is vacuumed frequently and switch to air conditioner filters that are designed for people with allergies.
- Stay indoors and keep the windows closed on high pollen count days or on days with poor air quality.
If you do go outside on a high pollen count day, consider wearing a mask. Also, change your clothes and wash them as soon as you get home to avoid bringing pollen particles into your living space.
- Consider getting allergy tested. Allergy shots or allergy immunotherapy can be highly effective against Maryland seasonal allergies. An allergy test will also help your doctor to pinpoint exactly what triggers your allergies.
- Ask your doctor about over-the-counter antihistamines or a prescription. Your doctor will be able to advise which options are safe for you and will not interfere with other medications you may be taking.
At Lighthouse Senior Living, residents enjoy a rich calendar of social activities in the comfort of our property, while still staying connected to all that Howard County, Baltimore, and Middle River have to offer. Our healthcare services include coordination of and transportation to medical visits. Our team of on-site specialists also facilitate medication management and coordinated medical care. Contact us to schedule a virtual or in-person tour of our communities.