Skip to main content

Allergic to the Holidays?

Nov 14, 2016 11:04AM ● By News Desk

This holiday, your goal may be to celebrate in style, but your allergies and asthma may have plans to turn you into the Grinch. You may not even be aware of the cause of your sniffling, sneezing and itchy eyes.

“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,” says allergist Bryan Martin, DO, President of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). “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.”

The following tips will help asthma and allergy sufferers avoid the most common triggers this holiday season.

Oh, the weather outside is frightful – Half the fun of the winter holidays is spending time outside – caroling, building snowmen, sledding. But extremely cold dry air can cause an asthma attack. When venturing out in frigid temps, cover your mouth and nose with a scarf or face mask, particularly when exercising.

Over the river – If traveling for the holidays, pack your medicine. If you need injectable epinephrine, bring two. When booking a room, ask whether the hotel offers allergy-free rooms. If you’re allergic to dust mites, bring allergy-blocking bedding.

Sneezing around the Christmas tree – Tradition swirls around the holidays. So does dust. If you store your decorations and artificial tree unprotected in the attic all year, they will accumulate dust, causing allergies to flare. When the holidays are over, clean decorations thoroughly, and store them in air-tight boxes so that next holiday season you’ll face fewer triggers. Some people are sensitive to real pine decorations, and can have skin allergies to terpene, a compound found in tree sap, or inhalant allergies to mold spores and pollen brought indoors by fresh trees and greenery.

Bring on the food—or not – Holiday time offers amazing feasts resplendent with tempting home cooked dishes. If you or your kids suffer from food allergies, bring a dish of your own that you can safely enjoy. If you are the guest where a cook is preparing the meal, inform your host in advance about problematic ingredients. Also, check labels of pre-made, store-bought items. And remember, the internet is a rich resource for allergy-safe recipes for holiday classics.

If you suffer from allergies or asthma, see a board-certified allergist. Allergists are trained to diagnose and treat your symptoms, and to work with you to create an individual action plan.

Source: American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI)