5 Common Ailments to Watch Out for this Spring
The spring season brings with it a number of specific health risks. Taking a few minutes to review these five common ailments can help you have a healthier, happier spring by:
- Preventing illnesses before they start.
- Recognizing symptoms more quickly and managing them more effectively.
- Getting access to healthcare services earlier when needed.
1. The Tail End of Flu Season is the Beginning of Cold Season
After a record-breaking year for the flu in Colorado, new cases are starting to die down. This doesn’t mean that it’s time to let our guard down in terms of washing our hands and keeping surfaces clean. Rhinoviruses that cause the common cold tend to spike most in spring, summer, and early fall. With the kids in school and playing outside in groups, it’s little wonder. What’s traditionally thought of as cold and flu season is really just the cold-weather addition of influenza to the list of viruses that are active year-round.
2. Seasonal Allergies and Asthma
Nasal allergies, sinus infections, and allergic asthma may all send someone to the doctor. Some combination of symptoms tend to include congestion, sneezing, runny nose, cough, sore throat, itching, headaches, and eyes that are red, watery, or have circles under them. Many people can effectively manage seasonal allergies with over-the-counter medications, but some of us are susceptible to persistent and severe sinus allergies that are better addressed with a treatment plan created in consultation with a physician.
It’s not always as simple as seasonal allergies, either. A bad cold or sinus infection may masquerade for a time as the worst allergies ever. Those with allergic asthma tend to have the worst flare-ups during spring, while other types of asthma tend to be worse in the winter. If your sinus and respiratory symptoms persist for more than a couple weeks or if they’re a lot worse than usual, it’s time to see a doctor.
This Spring Allergy guide from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) lays out the symptoms as well as the seasonal rotation of allergens: Trees in the spring, grasses in the summer, and weeds in the fall. If, at any time this year, you suffer from allergies that can’t be managed with over-the-counter medications, make an appointment with our Allergy Care Center.
3. Rocky Mountain Allergens
Seasonal allergies are what you experience as your body overreacts to innocuous plant material—most often because the chemical structure of the plant material resembles other more dangerous infectious agents. It’s a common problem that is hard to eliminate given all that our immunological systems are asked to do. It also means that seasonal allergies can be localized and individualized based on a number of factors.
If you’ve just moved to Denver, you may develop seasonal allergies for the first time. This could be a coincidence. Our immune systems tend to lose a step in our 20s and 30s leading to first-time allergy sufferers. It could also be exposure to unfamiliar flora that your body is having trouble recognizing. Maybe it’s one of several local species of Willow Trees, for example, or maybe your neighbor installed a new lawn this year with a different kind of grass. You can find the full list of trees, grasses, weeds and allergens most commonly found in Denver from the Pollen Library.
4. Anxiety and Mental Health
It’s counterintuitive we know, but spring brings with it a spike in anxiety and mental health struggles. While most of us are getting a mood boost from the longer days and warming temperatures, others experience this additional mental energy as anxiety or mania or other ways that are difficult to control and mess with your ability to get through the day and week.
Seriously, it’s not just you. A lot of people struggle with their mental health during the spring. If you need help getting through the season, if it feels like you’re really not going to make it to summer this year, one of our mental health therapists can help you better understand why spring is so hard for you and how to develop better coping strategies to get through this tumultuous time.
5. The Return of Outdoor Injuries
In Colorado, we have outdoor injuries year-round. Skiing causes its fair share of bumps and bruises, and shoveling the sidewalk in freezing temperatures can increase your risk of having a heart attack. Nevertheless, spring has soccer, baseball, softball, track, lacrosse, and other outdoor sports run by schools, intramural leagues, and groups of friends. There are also a certain number of injuries each year associated with spring-cleaning chores.
It’s good during these times to have a handy resource for ER vs. Urgent Care in Denver including locations, hours of operation, and acute care services. You may know the closest place for your home, but what about the soccer or baseball field across town? You can also find rules of thumb for where to take someone who’s experienced an injury. For someone who may have a sprain or hairline fracture in their wrist, urgent care is likely the better option. Someone who has clearly broken a major bone should be taken to the hospital.
Be mindful and have fun this spring, but if you get hurt, fall ill, can’t breathe, or come down get sick, know that you don’t have to wait forever or create a huge hospital bill to get the health services you need to start feeling better.