Does Your Asthma Always Flare Up Around the Holidays?

James Thompson, MD Health Pro
  • Here are 7 Reasons that may explain why:


    1)    The holiday season usually brings more than good cheer when the outdoor temperature starts dropping and furnaces start blasting out hot, dry air. The drying effect of warm air on the lungs lower the threshold for causing asthma attacks. Furthermore, going from a warm, dry, indoor environment to the outdoor cold may activate asthma.


    2)    Homes often become filled with mold spores as live Christmas trees are brought in for dressing. The molds, previously dormant from the cold, spring to life in the indoor setting. A mold allergic asthmatic may not survive the millions of mold spores that may infiltrate the air.

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    3)    Dust levels sky-rocket as the boxes or crates of ornaments and holiday decorations are brought up from the basement or down from the attic. The small particulate dust that settles on and around these items become airborne as they are removed from their perennial resting places. Dust mite exposure increases as more time is spent indoors.


    4)    Cats and dogs often spend more time indoors (as do people) during the winter holiday period. Indoor dander levels may increase and become more of a trigger for asthma as forced air heat whips up the indoor dust. Guinea pigs, bunnies and ferrets can also trigger asthma.


    5)    Other indoor pollutants may contribute to the holiday triggers and include scented candles, incents, potpourri, and fumy air fresheners. Let’s not forget the impact of wood burning smoke from fireplaces. Passive tobacco exposure may be more of a problem as cold weather limits the casual stroll for a smoke outside the house.


    6)    The winter holiday season is always replete with germs that cause the common cold, flu, sinus infections and bronchitis. The Thanksgiving holiday is often the primer. A time when many families and friends lovingly get together for dinner but often share more than a great meal. The hugging, kissing and close contact surely sets the table (so to speak) for a surge in asthma attacks triggered by upper respiratory infections.


    7)     Emotional stress can peak around Christmas holidays as work and school deadlines (exam midterms and finals) must be met. Anxiety and despair related to the remembrance of loved ones that are no longer around may complicate asthma management (some people may fall off track with their controller meds). The impact of stress, anxiety and depression on asthma has been previously reported.

    What Can You Do?
    Review some of the postings which address managing asthma this time of the year. Environmental controls are very important as part of your survival guide. You don’t have to be sick every Christmas if you plan ahead and review your action plan with your doctor.


Published On: December 16, 2009