Anyone with a food allergy knows the holidays can be difficult and extra vigilance is needed at parties and gatherings to avoid ingesting something harmful. But environmental and seasonal allergies and asthma flare ups are difficult during this time of year too! Take time to learn the common, hidden allergens and how can you protect yourself!
Christmas Tree – Yes it’s beautiful with all the lights and heartfelt ornaments but that tree is a major allergen trigger – usually due to mold that’s been sitting on the tree and now in your house.
>> Suggestions: Try an artificial tree but make sure you clean the dust accumulating on it. Store it in a protected tree bag at the end of the season and give it a quick vacuum before setting up. If you must have a real tree, wait until just a few days before Christmas to bring it indoors and remove it as soon as Christmas is over. Rinse the tree off before bringing it inside to remove mold spores and pollen. Running an air purifier in the room where the tree is can also help reduce allergens.
Air Fresheners, Candles, Potpourri –– Everyone loves the smell of the holidays, but candles, etc. can trigger respiratory problems, itchy eyes, sneezing, coughing and wheezing.
>> Suggestions: Avoid using but if you must, use for the least amount of time possible. and use unscented candles. To have the glow of candlelight without the fragrance, smoke , etc use battery operated lighted candles. They look like the real thing and are better for your lungs.
Fireplace – A burning fire is cozy and warm but the smoke can worsen allergies and asthma and the wood could contain mold.
>> Suggestions : Avoid using but if you must, check your fireplace to make sure all the smoke goes up the chimney and not into your house. Also, examine the wood for visible signs of mold and don’t use if mold is evident.
Pets –Dogs, cats and other animals can all produce a variety of symptoms in those that are allergic. And by the way, there’s no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic dog.
>> Suggestions- Thoroughly vacuum carpet and upholstered furniture before guests arrive and keep your pet in another room away from the allergic guest. If you are allergic, avoid petting the animal, be sure to take an antihistamine, and always have your rescue inhaler with you.
Dust Mites – Microscopic organisms that feed on dust, dead skin and hair – these pests become more aggravating around the holidays when the air gets damp.
>>Suggestions: When you travel, take along your own allergen-proof pillow cases and try to avoid visiting homes where pets live inside the house — instead consider staying at a pet free hotel.
Stuffed Animals- Allergens love to hide out in soft fibers. Some of their favorite spots are in carpets, bedding, soft furniture and stuffed animals. A giant, stuffed animal collection can easily gather enough allergens to cause sniffling, sneezing and other allergy symptoms.
>>Suggestions: Limit Stuffed animals to just a few favorites. Using hot water, throw them in the washer and be sure to dry thoroughly in the dryer. In between washing, vacuum the stuffed creatures.
As always, the key to avoiding or minimizing allergy and asthma flare ups is to be prepared. Take your antihistamines and always carry with you Benadryl and your rescue inhaler. Drink plenty of fluids, get enough sleep, wash hands often with soap and water, and get a flu shot. With a little prep and caution you can have a safe and fun holiday season.
What tips do you have for avoiding allergy and asthma flareups during the holidays? Share in our comments section.