Holiday Season Not Always A Gift for Allergy Sufferers

Spring and summer are the times of year most attribute to environmental allergies, but allergy sufferers can still find themselves surrounded by potentially problematic triggers over the course of the holiday season and beyond. The good news is they can usually sidestep those risks with some forethought and due diligence.

“Two-thirds of allergy sufferers have symptoms year-round, so it’s not just a matter of the first freeze hitting and your symptoms disappearing,” Dr. Bryan Martin, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), stated in a college news release. “Even after the pollen season dies down, there are environmental triggers to deal with — things like mold, dust and pet dander. The winter holidays can bring a whole new set of triggers,” he explained.

Cold, dry air can trigger asthma, for example, experts warn. When going outside in very cold weather, those with asthma should cover their mouth and nose with a scarf or face mask, especially when exercising. Those with allergies and asthma should pack their medicines for holiday travel. Before booking hotel stays, it’s wise to call ahead and see if the hotel offers allergy-free rooms. If allergic to dust mites, it’s a good idea to bring one’s own hypoallergenic bedding. Allergy sufferers with injectable epinephrine should pack two injectors for their trip, according to the ACAAI.

Real Christmas trees and evergreen garland can harbor problematic mold spores and pollen that can infiltrate the home, and some allergic individuals may also have contact skin allergies to terpene, which is found in tree sap. Artificial Christmas trees and holiday ornaments aren’t always problem-free, either, as many people store them in the garage or attic, which makes them likely to be covered in dust. If trees aren’t prelit, experts suggest lightly hosing the branches to remove dust or, in the very least, dry dusting from top to bottom, and then vacuuming regularly to keep dust to a minimum. Air-tight holiday storage boxes are the best bet for keeping artificial trees, ornaments and other holiday décor clean and dust-free.

The holidays can also present problems for food allergy sufferers, the ACAAI and other experts warns. If anyone in the family has food allergies, use caution when eating goods baked and gifted from others, and be sure to discuss any food restrictions with party hosts prior to arrival at the event (this will give them an opportunity to plan an allergy-free dish in advance). For more tips on surviving the holidays with food allergies, read the Fare Thee Well Health article “Hope for the Holidays: Surviving the Fanfare with Food Allergies.”

Source: Content derived from American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology news release, “Allergy and Asthma Sufferers Beware as Holiday Season Kicks In.” Nov. 21, 2015 ©Fare Thee Wealth Health, All Rights Reserved