UPDATED: Winter holidays should be a source of joy, but between the treats, allergens, and new electronics, many experience just the opposite. Allergens in the home can include fresh and artificial trees, scented candles and air fresheners/potpourri, and more.
The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology recommends these five tips to help you navigate the holidays.
- So many tempting treats– Cookies, cakes and other delights may very well contain an ingredient that causes an allergic reaction. If you are attending parties at others’ houses, let them know what foods you need to steer clear of, and bring some dishes you’re certain you and your clan can safely eat. Consider hosting the gathering, which will make controlling food ingredients easier. Some hosts put labels on food so everyone knows what’s inside. Always carry two epinephrine auto-injectors in case you accidently eat something you didn’t know contained the item you’re allergic to.
A roaring fire can be a smoky hazard – Not everyone knows that smoke is a risk for those with asthma. Whether it’s a fire in a fireplace or holiday candles burning, anything that produces smoke can prompt an asthma attack. In addition, aerosols such as air fresheners and artificial snow, as well as potpourri and other scents can be irritants to already inflamed airways. They can cause sneezing and sniffling among your guests and are best avoided.
- To grandmother’s house we go– If you’re traveling for the holidays and have allergies or asthma, make sure you pack all the medications for your family, including at least two epinephrine auto injectors for anyone who has been prescribed one. Some hotels now offer allergy-free rooms, so ask about that option when making your reservation. If you’re allergic to dust mites, bring your allergy-blocking bedding. And take medications well in advance if you know you’ll be dealing with a dog or cat that makes your pet allergies flare.
- Holly, jolly and sneeze-free– Christmas trees are lovely to look at, but they can cause skin and eye irritation. If you are someone who has contact skin allergies to a substance called terpene found in the sap of trees, you may suffer an allergic reaction to your tree. In addition, some live trees have mold spores and pollen on them, which when carried into the house can kick your nasal allergies into gear. Rinse off live trees before you bring them in to avoid allergy symptoms. If you have an artificial tree and decorations that you use every year, they can accumulate dust and mold. Clean them before using them again this year.
- Coats and scarves for a winter wonderland – If outdoor fun will be part of your holiday plans, make sure everyone is properly bundled up. Those with asthma need to be aware that extremely cold, dry air can be a trigger. If it’s very cold outside, cover mouths and noses with a scarf or face mask – particularly if you’ll be exercising.
Editor: As we prepare to start a New Year soon, be sure to double check that your home is scent-free, with no toxic chemicals, and your foods are natural and additive-free. We appreciate your support for ACN Latitudes and wish everyone a healthy and happy new year.