| Tue, Apr 08, 2014 @ 09:00 AM

Ah-Choo! How to Manage the Allergy Season

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

seasonal allergiesSneezing, a runny nose and itchy eyes—these symptoms are well known to allergy sufferers everywhere.

Seasonal allergies are primarily due to tree, grass and weed pollen. The pollen gets into nasal passages and settles on soft mucous membranes in the nose and lungs. This triggers the release of histamine, which the body tries to get rid of through sneezing, coughing and other means.

Special attention is needed to help manage allergy symptoms in some older adults. Pollens can aggravate existing heart and lung conditions, which could lead to serious illness. Antihistamines may help relieve allergy symptoms, but they may also increase blood pressure and interact with other medications. Drowsiness, dizziness and other reactions may occur. Because of this, antihistamines are generally not recommended for many older adults.

If allergy symptoms affect you or a loved one, it’s important to tell your doctor. Your Annual Wellness Visit is a good time to talk about allergies and all your health care needs.

Allergies may be difficult to diagnose, especially when there are larger health issues requiring attention. Your doctor may want to order a test to find out what’s causing your allergies in order to provide your care. Medicare may help pay for this test, but you should ask if there may be any associated costs before getting the test.

You can take steps yourself to help manage the allergy season and your symptoms. Here are a few tips:

  • Turn on the air conditioning. It may go against the grain to use air conditioning when it’s not hot, but keeping your windows closed helps keep pollen outside.
  • Wear glasses or sunglasses when you’re outside. Glasses may help prevent pollen and other irritants from getting into your eyes. A hat can also help keep pollen from getting in your hair.
  • Wash your hands after being outdoors. If you’ve been outside for a long time, it’s wise to shower and throw the clothes you were wearing into the laundry. Pollen can spread from your clothing and hair all around your house.
  • Dry clothing indoors. Clothes or sheets dried on the line outside can collect pollen, ragweed and other flying allergens.

It may be best to stay indoors when pollen counts are high. Many newspapers publish daily pollen levels. In addition, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology’s National Allergy Bureau (NAB) features a nationwide map showing pollen and mold levels. You can zoom in to see your area for up-to-date information and also create a personalized email alert account.

For more information, explore MedicareMadeClear.com or contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048.

Resources:

Medicare & You: Get the U.S. government’s official Medicare handbook.

Medicare.gov: The official U.S. government site for Medicare.

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