Adult-Onset Allergies As We Age
Allergies aren’t just something that affect children – 30% of American adults are living with allergies. They are something that you can develop as you get older, particularly if you have a weakened immune system. In fact, it’s not at all uncommon for people in their 70s to experience allergies for the first time. Often the best way to treat these is in a natural way, promoting a healthy lifestyle, especially for elderly people. A holistic approach can help reduce the symptoms and improve quality of life.
Why do allergies develop?
Allergies can develop when your body’s immune system recognizes a substance such as mold, pollen, animal hair and food as being harmful. The allergens then stimulate the body to release histamine and other chemicals, triggering an allergic reaction. As we get older, the immune system weakens, actually making us more prone to developing allergies. Some of the other triggers include getting a new pet and moving to a new area with different plants, trees and grasses. It may also be that you weren’t exposed to enough allergens when you were younger, so you are not desensitized. Around 5-10% of new allergies affect the over 65s.
The doctor can do a skin prick test to diagnose allergies. However, in the case of food allergies, it is often a case of removing things from the diet and then reintroducing them one by one, in order to pinpoint what is causing the problems. This should be done under the guidance of a professional, as sometimes the symptoms of allergies in the elderly can be mistaken for other illnesses or conditions. It is important for the elderly to keep a diary of symptoms and consider whether there are any external factors that may possibly be the trigger of allergies.
Treating the symptoms
For younger people, antihistamines are often prescribed for allergies. For the elderly, it is generally not recommended, because they can increase blood pressure, increasing the chance of heart problems. They can also interact with other medications causing a range of side effects such as dizziness, drowsiness and confusion. This means that a more natural, holistic approach is often best for treating the symptoms of allergies.
In the case of seasonal allergies such as issues with mold spores and pollen, simple things can make a difference like:
- Wearing sunglasses out of doors.
- Choose days with a low pollen count to go outside.
- Studies have shown that consuming some local honey on a regular basis can help lessen the symptoms. This is because the raw honey contains pollen from your area, and consuming it can desensitize you.
- Using eucalyptus oil can help make breathing easier if there are problems with your sinuses, especially at night. Just put a little in an oil burner.
- A HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter can also be very effective for removing the allergens in the house.
Natural remedies can work alongside allergy medications, effectively helping to relieve symptoms. In particular, acupuncture has also been shown to have a modest clinical benefit.
In the case of food allergies, it is important to keep a food diary to pinpoint any potential problem foods. If you are removing foods from the diet, then it’s important to make sure that the nutritional needs are met, as if there are inadequacies in vitamin and mineral intake, then it can lead to frailty in the elderly. You should also make sure that they get enough calories. It is recommended that the elderly consume foods that are rich in Omega-3 to boost the immune system and cut down the symptoms of allergies. These include oily fish, nuts and lentils.
Adult-onset allergies in seniors are not uncommon. Often the symptoms can be treated in a natural way through diet and home remedies, although seeking the advice of a medical professional first is the best course of action.
Do you or someone have allergies or someone close to you? If so do you have any helpful tips or suggestion to share – please share them in the comment section.
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