How to manage your allergies this season

How to manage your allergies this season

Spring brings with it longer, warmer days, plants in bloom and, for many, seasonal allergies. Your Aetna Medicare Advantage plan is here to help you treat and manage your allergy symptoms so you can enjoy the season.

Family watering plants together

If you have allergies, it can be more than a minor annoyance. Allergies can impair your focus, hand-eye coordination and sleep cycles. It can upset your routine and make you feel miserable. But with your doctor and Aetna® Medicare Advantage (MA) plan coverage, the right treatment and lifestyle strategies can leave you feeling better.

What causes allergies?

Your immune system has an important job: to defend your body from invaders such as bacteria and viruses that mean you harm. But when it goes to war against substances it shouldn’t, that’s an allergy. Peanuts, eggs or pollen, for example, can trigger reactions in some people. When they do, they are called allergens. You can encounter allergens in many ways: through the skin, eyes, nose, mouth or stomach. This can clog up your sinuses, inflame your skin, make it harder to breathe or cause stomach problems.

Some other common allergens include:

  • Animal dander
  • Bee stings
  • Certain medications such as penicillin
  • Dust mites
  • Foods — particularly peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, eggs, milk, wheat and soy
  • Insect bites
  • Latex (like rubber gloves) or other materials you touch
  • Mold
  • Plants and pollens

Your allergy attacks might range from mild and annoying to more severe and even life-threatening. It all depends on the way your body reacts and how much of the allergen got into your system. If your allergy is severe, you may have a serious reaction called anaphylaxis. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include skin rash, nausea, vomiting, difficulty breathing and shock. Some cases could be life-threatening and need urgent attention.1

How to handle allergies

Our tolerance to allergens may change over time, so it’s important to reevaluate every few years what triggers your allergies.

  • Track your symptoms. When allergies act up, make note of the day, time, location and your activities. For example, are you mowing the lawn, doing housework, petting an animal or eating food?
  • Pay attention to the weather forecast. Rainstorms or warm winds can send pollen levels soaring, while mold grows quickly in humid heat.
  • Check pollen counts online. Most weather forecasts include pollen counts in your area. Try to figure out which type of plant (such as tree, grass or flower) causes you the most discomfort, and what may trigger your allergic response.

Make sure you share any changes in your allergy events or symptoms with your primary care physician (PCP). They can help find the right allergy treatment for you.

Need an allergy specialist? Call us at 1-833-570-6670 (TTY: 711) between 8 AM and 8 PM, seven days a week. Or visit AetnaMedicare.com/FindProvider to find an in-network specialist near you.

Preventive lifestyle actions

One of the best ways to manage your allergies is to be aware of what may trigger your symptoms. If, for instance, you're allergic to pollen, you could stay inside with your windows and doors closed when the pollen count is high. Allergic to dust mites? Dusting, vacuuming and washing your bedding helps keep the allergen levels lower.  

Key preventive actions that can be part of your lifestyle include:2

  • Change clothes when you get home and wash them as soon as possible.
  • Take a quick shower before bed.
  • Wipe down your windowsills and surfaces.
  • Keep rugs and floors vacuumed or mopped.
  • Wear a filter mask when doing housework or yardwork to avoid inhaling allergens.
  • Keep an allergy kit in your desk drawer and purse. Stock it with medication, tissues, eye drops and lotion for chapped skin.
  • If you wear contacts, switch to glasses when your eyes get itchy or watery.

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When to see your doctor

Your physician can help manage your allergy symptoms. If, for instance, you're allergic to pollen, your doctor may recommend an over-the-counter (OTC) medication for treatment. Or they may prescribe testing for allergies as part of a complete treatment program.3

If you and your physician agree to trying prescription drugs for your allergy, it might take a few tries before you arrive at the proper medication and dosage. Seniors are more likely to experience side effects and interactions with their other medications. If you experience symptoms after starting a new medication, call your PCP.

Common procedures and tests covered by your plan include:3

  • Percutaneous (skin) procedures. These test your reaction to substances such as inhalants (pollen or animal dander, for example), food, insect stings, certain drugs, or other agents.
  • Blood testing procedures. They measure the antibodies in the blood that are released when your body comes in contact with specific allergens.
  • Food challenge testing. For these tests, a patient consumes increasing amounts of the suspected food until there is a reaction or an allergy is ruled out.

Remember: You don’t have to suffer through every allergy season alone. By working in partnership with your PCP, taking the right lifestyle steps and taking advantage of your Aetna® Medicare Advantage benefits, you can breathe easier all year round.

You can speak to a licensed registered nurse 24/7 to get answers to your questions about allergies and more. Call 1- 800-556-1555 (TTY: 711).

1 Ambardekar, Nayana MD. What Is an Allergic Reaction? WebMD. March 13, 2022. Accessed January 19, 2023.
2 Mayo Clinic Staff. Allergies. Mayo Clinic. Accessed January 19, 2023.
3 Joseph, Christina. How to manage seasonal allergies and enjoy the outdoors again. Aetna.

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