Spring is a beautiful time of year. Unfortunately, flowers aren’t the only things blooming. Ragweed and other pollen-producing plants also return in the spring. For seniors, allergy season presents a few unique challenges.

Like many millions of Americans, the elderly are not exempt from the stuffy noses and watery eyes that accompany allergies. But, unlike most of those millions, seniors often have complicating factors such as chronic diseases that can make it difficult to deal with their allergies.

The antihistamines most of us use to help minimize the effects of allergies are not recommended for a large number of seniors. That’s because they can increase blood pressure, as well as interact with other medications they may be taking. Pollens can also aggravate existing cardiac and pulmonary conditions.

There are ways, however, that you can help the senior in your life safely survive allergy season.

  • Use the air conditioning. Keeping windows closed helps to prevent pollen and mold from entering the house.
  • Don’t hang clothes outside to dry. Instead, use the clothes dryer or hang them indoors to dry. Left outside, they can collect pollen, ragweed and other flying allergens.
  • Keep an eye on pollen levels. That can help you plan outings for days when pollen counts are projected to be the lowest.
  • Wear sunglasses when you’re outside. Sunglasses can prevent pollen and other seasonal irritants from getting in to your eyes. A hat also helps prevent it from getting in to your hair and working its way onto your hands and clothing.
  • Wash your hands after being outdoors. Make sure to shower as soon as you come in from working or spending any significant amount of time outside. Throw the clothes you were wearing into the laundry to help prevent pollen from spreading around your house.
  • Choose foods that fight allergies. Many nutritionists believe that foods that help fight inflammation can help relieve some of the symptoms of allergies. Those include apples, walnuts, flax seed, ginger, leafy green vegetables and foods rich in vitamin C.
  • Avoid traditional antihistamines. This class of drug most commonly prescribed to treat allergies can be dangerous to seniors. Potential side effects from these medications include: confusion, drowsiness, urinary retention, dry mouth and eyes, and dizziness. For the senior suffering from seasonal allergies, a doctor will likely prescribe a nasal steroid or some form of topical medication.