With the holidays upon us, there’s a lot to look forward to: seeing old friends, eating too much, wearing ugly sweaters; the list goes on. Likewise, there are a lot of things that might make you sigh: awkward questions from your aunts, arguing about politics and of course, how you’re going to work off all that extra weight in the new year.
One question millions of Americans should keep in mind this holiday season is how to best handle their asthma and allergies. While everyone else is singing along to carols and letting their food digest, others are tearing up, coughing and going into a sneezing fit.
“People don’t realize how many hidden triggers are associated with the holidays and winter season,” said allergist Bradley Chipps, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). “Those who suffer from allergies and asthma assume things will ease up once the cold weather hits, but there are other factors that can cause your allergies and asthma to flare. In fact, two-thirds of allergy sufferers have year-round triggers and symptoms.”
To help make the holidays as enjoyable as possible, here are five tips to manage your allergies this season.
An excuse to stay out of the hugging circle. There are a lot of hugs and kisses during the holidays, which can make it easy for germs and viruses to spread. Catching a cold or coming down with the flu is pretty awful, but because those illnesses make asthma and allergy symptoms even worse, those with allergies must take extra precautions. One more reason to avoid the mistletoe!
Watch out for that ... tree! For many, picking out a Christmas tree is a holiday tradition. For others, a tree can be pure misery. Mold on the tree and terpene found in the sap can trigger allergies you thought you had under control. A much better option is to use an artificial tree — just be sure to dust it off! Dust allergies can be a problem year-round.
Keep an eye on holiday treats. Holidays are about food, and people usually share the food they make. As a result, you need to be extra careful about food allergies. If you or your kids have food allergies, let your host know what ingredients should be avoided. If you are hosting, prepare food you know everyone in your clan can eat.
Your nose knows to sniff out those "pleasant" scents. People love to add those little touches to create a cozy holiday atmosphere in their homes. Unfortunately, scented candles, wood-burning fireplaces, aerosols and potpourri can trigger allergies and asthma. There are plenty of other nice touches you can add, but this year, forgo the scents!
Leave the house prepared. Whether it’s someone’s lovable dog, a co-worker wearing too much perfume or a moldy Christmas tree, many triggers exist out there. Before you leave the house, take your medications, and if your allergy and asthma symptoms worsen during the season, be sure to schedule an appointment with your allergist.
If you need help with allergies, visit AllergyandAsthmaRelief.org to find a board-certified allergist in your area. ACAAI member-allergists are board-certified physicians trained to diagnose allergies and asthma, administer allergy shots (immunotherapy), and provide patients with the best treatment outcomes.