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June 09, 2015

Healthy Ways Older Adults can Enjoy Spring and Fight Back Allergies

Ahhh . . . the sun is shining, green grass is sprouting, and flowers bloom with riotous colors. New life is all around us, which usually leads to spring allergies.

In fact, according to WebMD, approximately 40 million people in the United States have seasonal allergies. Genetic components exist so, if your parents had allergies, it’s far more likely you also have them. Although allergies often present themselves in childhood, some start later in life. WebMD cites the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America as listing these as some of the most common allergy triggers (which spring winds can spread):

  • Tree, grass and weed pollen
  • Mold spores
  • Dust mites

Even if you have allergies, though, you don’t have to simply suffer! EverydayHealth.com offers ways to fight allergies and enjoy spring. One tip is to listen to a local radio station for pollen reports and stay indoors, if possible, on high-pollen days. Also, keep your doors and windows closed, no matter how tempting it is to let in fresh breezes. Another tip is to use specially designed allergy filters on your air conditioning unit(s). These filters catch and filter out pollen.  

But, when you’ve already got spring allergy symptoms, what do you do? Well, if you like a natural approach, Rodale News recommends ten foods to help fight back. (And, even if they don’t banish the symptoms, these foods are still great for a healthy diet!) Three of the foods are:

  • Broccoli: “High in allergy-relieving vitamin C . . . Researchers have found about 500 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C a day can ease allergy symptoms, and just one cup of raw broccoli packs about 80 mg.”
  • Citrus fruits: To get that vitamin C, you can “also turn to oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and limes. A large orange contains nearly 100 mg. of vitamin C, while half of a large grapefruit contains about 60 mg.”
  • Kale: Besides providing vitamin C, “it’s also rich in the carotenoid department, pigments believed to aid in fighting allergy symptoms.”

Time magazine also emphasizes the need for a healthy diet to fight allergies, recommending a diet “high in antioxidants and omega-3s” to “ease seasonal allergy suffering.” They cite a 2007 report that showed how children in Crete who ate plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, olive oil, and nuts were less likely to suffer from allergy symptoms.

If you need additional help managing your allergies, it’s best to talk to your doctor.

Additionally, you could try over-the-counter remedies like saline nasal sprays and rinses, or antihistamines that block the histamines that cause sneezing, runny noses, and itching. Some antihistamines cause drowsiness so choose carefully and avoid driving when the medications impact your alertness. There are also decongestants available, often combined with antihistamines for a one-two punch against allergy symptoms. Decongestants can serve as mild stimulants and can cause sleeplessness, though, so talk to your doctor before taking them. Ultimately, if all of these remedies are not sufficient, you may need allergy shots at your doctor’s office.

The changing of the seasons doesn’t have to leave you reaching for the tissues. By making sure you avoid your allergy triggers, maintaining a healthy diet, and using over-the-counter remedies or visiting your doctor, you can enjoy the warmer weather without the sniffles and sneezes. To get additional healthy diet recommendations, including insight into taking vitamins and drinking enough water, download this free nutritional guide. 



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