10 Tips to Help Asthmatics Survive the Halloween Fright
You might not think of Halloween as a trigger for asthma, but it can be. From my own personal experience, I can think of no holiday worse on asthma than Halloween.
In fact, my asthma acted up just about every Halloween that I participated in Trick-or-Treating until I was 11-years-old, at which time I vowed never to do it again. This, as you may imagine, was not easy to do.
When I was 24, I forgot my vow and each Halloween from 1990 to 1993 I went to a Halloween costume party and ended up in the Emergency room on -- ahem -- Halloween night.
In retrospect I've learned that I am not allergic to Halloween, but things I did on that night put me face to face with some of my most frightful asthma triggers.
Thankfully, you don't have to learn the hard way as I did, as I have come up a list of 10 tips to help you or your asthmatic child enjoy the Halloween fun.
1. Do not use recycled costumes that were stored in a box all year long. My parents were bent on saving money and kept old Halloween costumes in a box in the basement. While rummaging through them I was exposed to dust mites, a major asthma trigger.
2. Wear costumes that are new or recently washed. You'll want to make sure the costume is allergen-free. If you have latex allergies, make sure there is no latex in your costume!
3. Do not wear masks. Halloween masks can be full of dust mites, and when you have them over your face you are inhaling those dust mites with each breath. There may also be other asthma triggers in the mask too. Avoid them.
4. Do not enter homes while trick-or-treating. You never know what asthma triggers might be in someone else's home, including pet dander, dust, cockroaches, mold and fumes, so it is best to simply stay out of them. Have your kids say "Trick-or-treat," knock on the door, and stay on the porch.
5. Avoid smoky homes. If smoke is pouring from the door as it opens for other trick-or-treaters, avoid it at all costs. The last thing you want your asthmatic child to do is breathe cigarette smoke.
6. Stay home if you have a cold. If you or your child is congested or coughing he is more susceptible to having asthma symptoms and exposure to asthma triggers can make it all the worse.
7. Avoid inclement weather. Fall has a tendency to bring in some nasty weather. Cold air and humidity can be asthma triggers, and light rain can stir up allergens that were previously lying on the ground, such as ragweed pollen and dust. So if you want to risk the elements, make sure you dress yourself and your child appropriately for the weather, or avoid going out altogther if it's bad enough.
8. Don't forget about food allergies. Thankfully I never had to worry about this one, but many asthmatics have allergies to food, which you can read about here. Make sure your child isn't eating something he's allergic too. Common food allergies include nuts, eggs and milk products. Only take food with labels on them so you know exactly what the ingredients are before your child touches or consumes them. Sorry, that means avoiding homemade treats, no matter how healthy (or indulgent) they look!
Gina Clowes of Allergy Moms has great tips for allergy-free trick or treating here.
9. No playing with hay. Kids and adults alike love to use hay to stuff clothes to make scary characters or scarecrows. Not only is hay an allergy trigger, it is a breeding ground for dust mites and molds.
10. Be a gallant asthmatic. Make sure you keep in touch with your asthma doctor, have an asthma action plan, and take all your asthma meds exactly as prescribed. This way if you're exposed to asthma triggers you will be better prepared to deal with it. For some more helpful tips on surviving the season check out this great post.
Basically, don't take your asthma -- or your child's asthma -- for granted. If you regard the tips above, this Halloween should be fun and asthma free.