Addressing food allergies during the holidays:
How to say No

It’s the season when we often find ourselves invited to festive gatherings with family, friends and colleagues. However, for those managing food allergies, the exciting invitations to family gatherings or company parties can quickly translate into a myriad of questions and risk assessment.

Holiday Allergies

Will the party be held at a restaurant with safe options? Will there be bowls of nuts set out? Can I bring my own food? Is it a potluck? The list goes on.

Finding that perfect balance between safety, risk and gratitude is a difficult task. If risk of a food-allergic reaction is high, then the reality of establishing boundaries and saying ‘No thank you’ may be the solution. However, if it is not an option to decline the invitation, here are a few recommendations.

Let the host know about you or your child’s allergies, especially in an informal setting, such as a small family gathering.

Offer to bring a dish.

Be careful about buffets since this increases the risk of anaphylaxis.

For more formal events, speak with the catering staff as most reputable companies will have labels on the dishes served.

Sniffing and sneezing? It might be winter allergies.

You’re sniffling and sneezing and feeling tired and “headachy” again. Perhaps it’s not a cold but an allergy. Most people don’t consider allergies as the cause of their cold like symptoms in the winter, because pollen is usually not drifting about in cold climates. Yet some of the most common allergies are to indoor things: Dust mites, mold and animal dander top the list. And in the winter, we tend to spend more time indoors with these potential triggers.

But how do you know which is which — if you have an allergy or a cold? While they are caused by different things, both a virus and an allergen set off your body’s immune responses. That’s why symptoms overlap — a runny or stuffy nose, a cough and sore throat, and fatigue. Some symptoms are more likely to occur with allergies, such as itchiness of the eyes, ears and back of the throat. Other symptoms, such as aches and fever, indicate a viral infection.

Another key difference is the course and persistence of symptoms. With a cold, first you feel tired, then you’re sick and then gradually your symptoms go away. Allergies typically last longer.

If you think you might have indoor allergies, there are plenty of over-the-counter products to help relieve the symptoms of allergies, including antihistamines and decongestants. However, because decongestants can be associated with side effects, you should take these products sparingly. You might also try steroid nasal sprays. Studies generally show that steroid nasal sprays work better than antihistamines for most patients and give better symptom relief.

If your symptoms are ongoing and annoying enough to interfere with work, play or sleep, a visit to an allergy specialist might be in order. In a single visit, an allergist can find out what you’re allergic to with a simple skin test and recommend a treatment plan to reduce your allergen exposure and minimize your symptoms.

If you or your loved ones are suffering from allergic symptoms, please set up an appointment for allergy skin testing. We are here to help keep you healthy and allergy free, all winter long!

Holiday schedule at The Allergy & Asthma Clinic

  • In observance of Thanksgiving Day, the Clinic will be closed Thursday November 24th and Friday November 25th. We will be open Saturday, November 26th, 9am-12pm for allergy shots.
  • 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 November 2016 Newsletter (opens in PDF)