Holiday travel, gatherings and decorations can be problematic for those with allergies and asthma. Here are a few tips on how to avoid potential triggers:
Travel. Allergies to pet dander and dust mite are worse during the winter when there is less ventilation. Pet allergen can be carried in the air, on clothes and in hair. Dust mite exposure increases during the holidays when we travel, spend time in hotel rooms and in other people’s beds. When traveling, remember to take your allergy medication and consider bringing your own pillow with an allergen-proof cover, or request a down-free pillow if staying in a hotel or with friends.
Real Christmas trees and wreaths. These may contain microscopic mold spores and harbor pollens. This may trigger asthma and allergies. Symptoms include shortness of breath, cough, sneezing and nasal congestion. Allergy to the tree or wreath itself is unlikely. Letting the tree or wreath dry out in the garage or enclosed porch for a week and then shaking it out may help minimize mold and pollen exposure.
Artificial decorations. Be aware of decorations kept in damp basements and dusty attics. Dust may collect and mold may grow on these items while they are being stored. Keep decorations in dry containers and wipe them down prior to displaying them.
Pointsettias. This beautiful plant is a member of the rubber family. If you have a latex allergy, keep this plant out of your house! Touching the plant can give you a rash but inhaling the allergen may cause wheezing and shortness of breath
Pets. If you leave your pet behind during the holidays you may experience allergy or asthma symptoms when you return home. Believe it or not, a person can lose tolerance to a pet after being away for a few days!
Stress. Can lead to asthma attacks. Chemicals released by the body during stressful times can cause the muscles around your airways to tighten. Yoga, meditation, massages and rest are ways to decrease stress
Candles and Cozy fires. Scented candles and smoke are common asthma triggers. Try to avoid these irritants if you have asthma.