As you’re going about your day, indoors or out, you may get a runny nose or start sneezing. Is it a cold, or is it allergies? Many residents in independent living facilities have symptoms which could be either. Knowing how to take care of your symptoms is very important for senior health. How can you tell the difference?
Cold: If you have a fever, muscle aches, and a heavy mucous discharge, you probably have a cold.
Allergies: If you have itchy, watery eyes, a runny nose, a lot of sneezing, and you experience these symptoms on a seasonal basis – mostly in the spring and fall, then you probably have allergies.
It is very common to develop allergies at any point in your life even if you never had them before.
What are allergies?
Allergies are triggered by allergens, which are substances that your body perceives as foreign and harmful, even if they are benign. Your body often mistakes dust or pollen for germs and prepares itself to attack them by producing antibodies. As a result, your body will respond with sneezing, itchy eyes, and a runny nose.
There are many allergy triggers in addition to pollen, such as dust mites, animal dander, or mold. Some people have food allergies, particularly to tree nuts, milk, and eggs.
Allergies can also be triggered by perfume, stress, smoke or hormones.
When you have an allergic reaction, your body releases a substance called histamine. There are different treatments available for allergies. Speak to your doctor about the right one for you.
Antihistamines relieve allergy symptoms by blocking histamine reactions to allergens. Be careful when taking antihistamines, as they can cause drowsiness. You can look for a non-drowsy formula, or take them at night.
Decongestants help you feel better by breaking up sinus congestion. Do not take decongestants for a long period, or they can cause congestion to worsen.
Clear the air. Use an air filter or air conditioner to remove pollen and mold spores from the air. Make sure to keep the filters clean.
Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands often. Also wash your bed linens frequently, and keep your home dust free. If you walk through the woods during allergy season, wash your clothes as soon as you get home. And as much as you love your pets, keep them out of your bedroom.
Seek medical help. No matter what your symptoms are, always see a doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment.