12 Allergy & Asthma Tips for the Holidays

Milwaukee - With the holiday season around the corner, millions of Americans are preparing to decorate their homes and gather for holiday feasts. But for the allergy and asthma sufferer, the holiday season holds several potential triggers, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAI).

Whether it's setting up your Christmas tree, visiting your pet owning relatives, or feasting on holiday treats, allergy triggers may be lurking around every corner.

"With hectic schedules and constant traveling around the holidays, it's easy to forget to take proper care when dealing with allergies and asthma," said Wanda Phipatanakul, MD, MS, FAAAI, vice chair of the AAAI's Indoor Allergen Committe, "Remembering to take medication and avoid potential triggers is necessary to keep symptoms under control."

The AAAI suggests the following 12 tips to help your holiday season be reaction free:

  1. Before decorating a live Christmas tree, allow it to dry out on an enclosed porch or garage. You may also want to explore whether the tree retailer has a shaking machine, which will physically remove some allergens from the tree.
  1. Clean artificial Christmas trees outside before decorating. they can gather mold and dust in storage.
  1. Wash fabric decorations in hot, soapy water before displaying.
  1. Use plastic, metal or glass decorations that cannot trap dust mites.
  1. When spraying artificial snow on windows or other surfaces, be sure to follow directions. These sprays can irritate your lungs if you inhale them.
  1. When attending holiday parties, inform the host about your food allergy and ask about the ingredients used to prepare the meal.
  1. Carry self-injectable epinephrine in case you accidentally eat a food to which you are allergic. Homeade items do not have ingredients lists and can be contaminated with trace amounts of allergenic foods through contact with storage containers, baking sheets and utensils.
  1. Remind family members and friends that strict avoidance is the only way to manage food allergies and even one little bite can hurt.
  1. If visiting relatives' homes who have pets, take medication before arriving to minimize a possible reaction.
  1. The holidays can be a very stressful time of year. Pay attention to your stress level, which can sometimes lead to an asthma attack.
  1. Ask your relatives and friends to avoid burning wood in the fireplace. The smoke can trigger an asthma attack.
  1. Dust mites can be especially troubling when traveling away from home, take your own pillow with an allergen-proof cover and request down-free pillows if staying in a hotel.

Seek proper treatment

If your allergy and asthma symptoms are not under control, consult with an allergist/immunologist to discuss treatment and environmental control options. Allergists/immunologists are the best-qualified medical professionals trained to manage the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of allergies and asthma.

Source: American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology press release, November 12, 2004

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Last Editorial Review: 11/16/2004