It is unfortunate that some of the nicest weather of the year also comes with an onslaught of allergens. When pollen fills the air, people with allergies begin to groan and seek relief. At least 19.2 million Americans over the age of 18 have received a diagnosis of hay fever, properly called allergic rhinitis. Allergies are often considered a condition that begins early in life, but the truth is that seniors are not immune to allergy symptoms, even if they have never had allergies before.
In fact, research has suggested that the changes age brings to the immune system may actually leave older adults at greater risk for autoimmune diseases, infections, and allergic inflammation. Complicating this further is that seniors often have chronic diseases and take multiple medications, which can make it difficult to diagnose, manage, and treat seasonal allergies. Allergies don’t discriminate between the young and the old. Adult onset allergies are not unusual, so caregivers should be on the lookout for signs like sneezing, coughing, runny nose, wheezing, and itchy eyes so that allergy symptoms can be nipped in the bud and treated properly.
It can be difficult for physicians to diagnose allergies in older people sometimes, due to seniors usually having a host of other more pressing health concerns, and doctor visits can only be so long. Allergy symptoms usually play runner up to things like chronic pain, and for some seniors experiencing cognitive decline due to dementia, they may be unable to articulate experiencing allergy symptoms at all.