Don’t get lassoed by allergies and germs this rodeo season
Houstonians are dusting off their cowboy boots for the annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo but the event plus seasonal factors could stir up allergies and other ailments. Experts at Baylor College of Medicine have tips to help folks stay healthy and enjoy their favorite rodeo activities.
Isabel Valdez, physician assistant and instructor of general internal medicine at Baylor, said the combination of seasonal allergies and the presence of dust, animals, hay and smoke can irritate your sinuses.
“Allergies can flare because of exposures at the rodeo and the time of year when regular, non-rodeo related allergens like pollen and mold are already high,” she said.
Remember to wash your hands immediately after petting any animals or being in the same room as them. Valdez warns that if you are allergic to household pets, you could potentially have a reaction to the dander from animals at the rodeo because they are more foreign to your immunity.
Avoid touching your face, especially after being in contact with animals or if you spend time in areas filled with hay or dust.
If you are allergy prone, prevent a reaction by taking oral antihistamines or using a nasal steroid spray starting a few days before or the day of your trip to the rodeo.
If you have a reaction, use a saline nasal spray to ease congestion and to rid your sinuses of any allergens.
Asthma and COPD
For those with asthma or COPD, Valdez urges them to carry a rescue inhaler or restart their inhaler treatment a few days or a week before they attend the rodeo. Those with compromised lungs can sometimes have reactions to the dust, hay or dander from the animals, she said.
“For those patients, it is important for them to take all of their inhalers properly and regularly,” Valdez said. “If their asthma gets triggered by an unknown exposure, they could have an asthma attack, so it’s important that they have their rescue inhaler to try to catch it before it happens.”
Even if you are not prone to allergies, there is always a chance of catching an illness at crowded events like the rodeo due to being in close proximity to many people, Valdez said.
- Wash your hands and use hand sanitizer throughout the day, especially after carnival rides, the petting zoo, touching doors or handles and before eating or drinking.
- Cough into your hands or elbow and use a clean tissue when you blow your nose to avoid spreading germs to others.
- Avoid sun exposure by wearing either sunscreen with SPF 30 or above or a hat or consider standing in the shade. Valdez explains that your immunity can weaken after getting a sunburn.
- Stay hydrated throughout the day by drinking plenty of water, especially on warm afternoons.
- Make sure to get plenty of sleep after a long day or night to help your body recover and fight off any unwanted sickness.
If you are already sick or have a fever to begin with, Valdez recommends finding another day to enjoy the rodeo because being active all day can make you even more ill.
“Enjoy yourself while you are there, but also listen to your body and give it the rest that it needs,” Valdez said.