5 Common Holiday Triggers & How to Avoid Them

  • With the coming of fall and winter each year, we are fast engulfed in the holiday season. For many of us, that is a joyous time for celebrating old traditions, time with family and exciting seasonal events. But for people who have allergies, it can also be a time when symptoms spiral out of control.


    No one wants that! So, let's take a look at some common holiday triggers and what you can do to keep them from interfering with your holiday fun this season.


    1. Christmas trees. When these outdoor trees are brought indoors, they may bring several kinds of pollen, as well as mold spores along with them. Some people are also allergic to terpene, a substance found in pine tree sap.
    2. Holiday decorations. When decorations are stored in dusty attics or damp basements, they may shed dust mites and/or mold spores when you bring them out into your living area.
    3. Wood smoke. Whether from yule logs, wood stoves or fireplaces, wood smoke can be a potent irritant for people with allergies.
    4. Nuts or other food allergens. Food is often given as gifts during the holidays or brought to holiday or family events. Food allergens, both known and unknown, may lurk within this unfamiliar food.
    5. Pets in homes you visit. The holidays often means visits to the homes of various friends, families, and co-workers. If any of those places have family pets, specifically cats and/or dogs, you could be in trouble.

    Holiday Trigger Avoidance Tips

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    There are some simple steps you can take to reduce your exposure to holiday triggers. First of all, if your celebration includes a Christmas tree, then go artificial if you can stand it (I can't). Artificial trees may gather dust when stored in the attic, but that can be vacuumed out each year. What they won't bring you is the pollen and mold that come with the live version.


    As mentioned above, pull out holiday decorations with care. Vacuum them with a HEPA-filtered vacuum as much as you can to reduce the amount of dust mites you'll stir up when arranging the decorations. Also, store them in the off-season in sealed boxes in a dry area to avoid mold growth.


    Use wood-burning devices and burn candles on a limited basis. Wood smoke and candle smoke and scents can be powerful irritants that further irritate already inflamed airways.


    When it comes to holiday food and food allergies, extreme caution is advised. Don't eat anything if you're unsure of its ingredients. Ask questions now and avoid problems later. Bring your own to parties, if you need to.


    When visiting others' homes, if you're sensitive to animal dander, ask if the pet can be excluded from the rooms in which you'll be spending time. Even so, be prepared for some spike in symptoms, as the pet's dander is likely to still be present. Take an antihistamine as a preventive ahead of time, if necessary.


    In short, use common sense and balance when it comes to enjoying the holidays as much as possible while also controlling your exposure to holiday triggers.

Published On: December 01, 2008