How to avoid and manage health challenges presented during the holiday season for those suffering with asthma or allergies
‘Tis the season, right? It can be hard to celebrate the holidays when your allergies are giving you a present worse than socks—sneezing, itchiness, congestion. Feeling lousy when everyone else is making merry is no fun.
Planning ahead will help you enjoy gathering with family and friends, sipping some hot cocoa or a pumpkin spice latte. We’d like to share a few tips to keep you feeling your best during the best time of year!
1. Holiday Delights? Maybe Not! Managing Food Allergies During Holiday Meals
The holidays are loaded with food and treats that can cause serious problems for people who struggle with food allergies. You need to be especially mindful of children and their food sensitivities.
If you are joining family for a meal or celebration, try one or more of these options:
- Let them know in advance specific foods to avoid
- Give alternative “safe” foods that can be shared together
- Offer to bring allergy-free dishes to contribute to the meal
- If eating out, check menus in advance and ask questions if you aren’t sure of ingredients
- Always carry an epinephrine injection kit (or EpiPen) with you
This time of year, whether it’s Thanksgiving feast, a Christmas meal, or another seasonal event, the holiday season brings along many different foods. Good planning can save symptoms later.
2. Fireside Gatherings – Avoiding Triggers for Allergies and Asthma Related to Fires
As the weather crispens and everyone gathers, a warm fire can be a lot of fun, both inside and out.
While there is no scientific evidence a fireplace – even a wood burning one – contributes to allergies, it may make someone already suffering with allergies feel worse. Allergies can also be set off if there are leaves or mold attached to the logs in the fire.
To prevent mold spores from spreading, have your chimney cleaned before your first holiday fire and make sure the flue works properly. Be sure to check fireplace vents and if you have a fireplace covering, keep it close to prevent particles and smoke from escaping into the room.
Candles are also used to set holiday moods; however, certain scents can trigger asthma and allergy sufferers. It’s best to ask if anyone suffers with scents before lighting up.
3. Holiday Décor – How to Avoid Irritating Allergies and Asthma While Decorating for the Holidays
If you can’t live without a live tree, wreaths, or boughs, recognize they can cause problems for people with allergies and asthma.
Some evergreens pollinate in winter. To remove mold that can irritate allergies and asthma, try one of the below solutions:
- Wipe the trunk of the tree down thoroughly with a solution of lukewarm water and diluted bleach (20 parts water to 1 part bleach)
- Spray your holiday tree – live or artificial – with a garden hose to reduce allergens
- Use a leaf blower if you have an outdoor, well ventilated space to remove visible pollen spores
Also note that while artificial Christmas trees are a great alternative to avoid allergens that irritate allergies and asthma, dust mites and insect droppings can also be problematic. Be sure to dust off any holiday décor in a well-ventilated area before bringing it into your home. This is where that leaf blower once again comes in handy.
To avoid irritating your allergies or asthma while decorating, wear gloves or a mask during this process to help. If possible, let someone else pull your decorations out of storage and wipe them down, then dig in and decorate!
Season of Cheer. We wish you a wonderful holiday season from all of us at Allergy and Asthma Care of Florida. Please don’t hesitate to give us a call with any concerns you have for the holidays.