Don’t Let Allergies and Asthma Ruin the Holidays

We’d like to pass on some tips from the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI) and The Christmas Tree Association to help you steer clear of allergy and asthma symptoms during the holidays.

Watch What You Eat

Many of us enjoy attending holiday parties and bringing our favorite dishes for everyone to share. But if you have food allergies to things like milk, peanuts, eggs, or tree nuts, eating the wrong thing can set off a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. The problem is, you may have no idea or get misinformation about the contents of a party dish.

So what should you do? First, ask the hosts if the dish contains any ingredients to which you are allergic. Even if they say there are none, make sure you have an antihistamine and your epinephrine auto-injector, just in case. If you want to be absolutely safe, bring dishes you prepared yourself to the party – but bring along enough for others to enjoy.

Are you hosting the party? You may want to check with guests beforehand to see if they have any food allergies. If they do, try to avoid serving any of those particular foods or make sure your guests with allergies know what dishes are safe for them.

Trees and Other Triggers

If you have allergies, Christmas trees can lead to sneezing and wheezing. Usually, these symptoms are often triggered not by the tree itself but by mold that grows on trees. A 2011 study performed by staff at the SUNY Upstate Medical University, which was published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, found that most Christmas trees carried about 50 types of mold, two-thirds of which could cause hayfever-like symptoms. Indoor Christmas trees could increase the number of mold spores in the room by about 6 times. If you’re determined to have a tree, consider an artificial one. If you do get a real tree, consider rinsing off the tree with a hose and sprayer, and then leaving the tree somewhere warm to dry for a couple of days before bringing it into the house.

Hanukkah candles, Christmas wreaths, potpourri, and air fresheners all make the house smell festive. However, these items can irritate your nose and lungs, leading to sneezing and wheezing. So keep these popular holiday favorites to a minimum to prevent unwanted reactions.

Making a fire in the fireplace warms the holiday home, but smoke can aggravate allergies and asthma. Make sure your fireplace chimney works properly, so smoke doesn’t enter the room.

Poinsettias are a popular holiday flower. Unfortunately, they contain a compound similar to rubber latex. If you have a latex allergy, you should minimize exposure to poinsettias and avoid coming into contact with them. On another note, Poinsettias’ are also toxic to pets.

Be Prepared When Traveling

Whether you’re visiting distant relatives or celebrating with neighbors, spending holiday time away from home can expose you to a variety of indoor allergens.

Your neighbor’s beloved dog or cat could trigger pet allergies, no matter how clean the house. The sheets on your hotel room bed may have been washed in a detergent that causes itching, or the pillows may expose you to dust mites. So make sure to have all your allergy and asthma medications with you when you travel, near or far.

Holiday season also coincides with flu season. The flu can trigger or make existing allergies and asthma worse. With very rare exceptions, everyone should get a flu shot. When celebrating with friends and family, steer clear of too many kisses and wash your hands to reduce the risk of spreading germs.

Holiday Schedule at The Allergy & Asthma Clinic

In observance of the Christmas Holiday, the Clinic will be closed on Saturday December 24th and Monday December 26th.

We will be open on Saturday December 31st, 9am-12pm for allergy shots. In observance of New Year’s the Clinic will be closed on Monday January 2nd.

All of us at The Allergy & Asthma Clinic wish you and your loved ones a Happy Healthy Holiday Season!

Download December 2016 Newsletter (opens in PDF)