7 tips to cope with seasonal allergies

About one in six Canadians suffers from seasonal allergies, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. Seasonal allergies are commonly associated with a runny nose, sneezing, nasal congestion, an irritated throat, fatigue, and itchy and/or watery eyes.

For older adults, it is especially important to look for the signs of seasonal allergies and talk with your doctor about appropriate treatment. Allergy symptoms can be pose serious risks for seniors with pre-existing heart conditions, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

???????????????????rOver-the-counter allergy medications need to be considered and used with care by older adults, says The Canada Safety Council. They advise that antihistamines can cause drowsiness and poor concentration. Today’s Geriatric Medicine also cautions that first-generation sedating antihistamines may cause dizziness, low blood pressure and next-day sedation, which can greatly increase the risk of falls and fall-related injuries.

The Canada Safety Council recommends checking with your doctor about the safe use of newer, non-sedating antihistamines, decongestants and nasal sprays, or other allergy medications.

Avoiding allergens

The University of Toronto suggests using various non-medical approaches first to minimize allergy symptoms. Here are some tips to help you cope with seasonal allergies this summer:

1) Keep pollen out. Minimize or eliminate contact with allergy triggers by closing doors and windows in your home, especially on high-pollen days.

2) Monitor pollen counts. Check a TV weather channel or online weather sites for pollen forecasts in your local area. Plan outdoor activities for days when the pollen counts are expected to be lower.

3) Wash out the pollen. Wash your hands after being outdoors. Shower or bathe to wash the pollen out of your hair after being outdoors for a long time and change into fresh clothes, which will prevent pollen from spreading around your home.

4) Protect your eyes. Wear wraparound glasses when outside and don’t rub or touch your eyes, as this will only make the symptoms worse.

5) Stay cool. Hold a clean face cloth soaked in ice-cold water over closed eyes for five to 10 minutes to reduce itchiness, says the Canadian Association of Optometrists.

6) Lock out allergens. Close car windows when driving or riding in a car.

7) Dry laundry inside. Avoid hanging just-washed laundry in the pollen-filled summer breeze.