Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and New Year’s — the fall and winter holidays bring festive times and seasonal activities that can trigger allergies and asthma. Allergists suggest the following tips to steer clear of potential culprits and enjoy healthy holiday cheer this season.
- Identify the Source of Your Suffering: Finding out what triggers your allergy and asthma symptoms is an essential first step. If you’re not sure, make an appointment to see an allergist, who can identify the source of your suffering and help stop it. To take a free self-assessment quiz and receive a personalized relief plan, or to locate an allergist near you, visit Allergy and Asthma Relief.
- Wash the Tree Before Trimming: Terpene is a potential allergen found in the oil or sap of live Christmas trees, evergreen wreaths and garlands. Mold also can reside on trees, and pollen is commonly found on junipers and cedar evergreens. Use a leaf blower in a well-ventilated area to remove some of the pollen from live trees and decorations. Wash the tree, especially the trunk, outdoors with a garden hose and leave in a bucket of water in the garage or on a covered porch to dry. Wear gloves when handling the tree to avoid contact with sap.
Artificial trees also may harbor dust and mold. Wash them outside as well to help remove allergy triggers. When storing an artificial tree and decorations for next year, place them in airtight bags or containers
- Let it Snow… Outside: While the artificial snow contained in aerosol cans helps bring the outdoor ambience in, these sprays can trigger asthma and allergy symptoms. Also be wary of scented candles, scented items including potpourri and wood-burning fireplaces. Your best bet is to avoid using these items if they trigger symptoms.
- Deck the Halls… After a Good Dusting: Menorahs, ornaments and other holiday decorations stored in attics and basements during the off-season often gather dust and mold that can cause an allergic reaction when they are removed from storage and readied for use. Clean each item thoroughly before decking the halls, dining room or tree. When packing these items away, store them in airtight containers to minimize dust and reduce your rep time next year.
- Plan Ahead for Healthy Travel: Traveling for the holidays has its challenges, but there are several things you can do to keep asthma and allergies in control whether you’re on the road, on board or at your destination. Talk to an allergist before you depart to identify preventive and emergency relief strategies. Pack your medications in your carry-on bag so they’ll always be there for you at a moment’s notice. If you’re allergic to dust, consider bringing your own pillow and mattress covers. Early morning and late evening travel, when air quality is generally better and traffic is lighter, also may be helpful. When renting a car, be sure to request one in which no one has smoked.
- Chill Out: Stress makes it harder for your immune system to do its job. Take time to decompress and stay on schedule with any allergy and asthma medications to prevent symptoms from interfering with holiday fun.
- Guard Against Flu: When people gather, viral illnesses such as the flu are more likely to be passed around. For tips to fight the flu this season, click here.
- Watch What You Eat: For tips to keep holiday food allergies at bay, read “Keep Tasty Traditions Safe for Those withFood Allergies.”