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  • Writer's pictureHP Allergy and Asthma Specialists

Keeping Allergies and Asthma at Bay is the Best Gift

Help loved ones avoid wheezing and sneezing this holiday season

If you’re wondering what to get the loved ones in your life for the holidays, consider the gift of health – or at least the offer of relief from allergy and asthma symptoms. The holidays can be tough to navigate for those with allergies and asthma. Everyone wants this time of year to be picture-perfect, but when there are runny noses, itchy eyes and sneezing involved, the picture is less than ideal. There are steps you can take to make your celebrations more fun and joy-filled for the whole family.

These five tips can help you navigate the holidays and ensure only a certain reindeer has a red nose.

1. So many tempting treats – Cookies, cakes and other delights may very well contain an ingredient that causes an allergic reaction. If you are attending parties at others’ houses, let them know what foods you need to steer clear of, and bring some dishes you’re certain you and your clan can safely eat. Consider hosting the gathering, which will make controlling food ingredients easier. Some hosts put labels on food so everyone knows what’s inside. Always carry two epinephrine auto-injectors in case you accidently eat something you didn’t know contained the item you’re allergic to.

2. A roaring fire can be a smoky hazard – Not everyone knows that smoke is a risk for those with asthma. Whether it’s a fire in a fireplace or holiday candles burning, anything that produces smoke can prompt an asthma attack. In addition, aerosols such as air fresheners and artificial snow, as well as potpourri and other scents, while not allergic triggers, can be irritants to already inflamed airways. They can cause sneezing and sniffling among your guests and are best avoided.

3. To grandmother’s house we go – If you’re traveling for the holidays and have allergies or asthma, make sure you pack all the medications for your family, including at least two epinephrine auto injectors for anyone who has been prescribed one. Some hotels now offer allergy-free rooms, so ask about that option when making your reservation. If you’re allergic to dust mites, bring your allergy-blocking bedding. And take medications well in advance if you know you’ll be dealing with a dog or cat that makes your pet allergies flare.

4. Holly, jolly and sneeze-free – Christmas trees are lovely to look at, but they can cause skin and eye irritation. If you are someone who has contact skin allergies to a substance called terpene found in the sap of trees, you may suffer an allergic reaction to your tree. In addition, some live trees have mold spores and pollen on them, which when carried into the house can kick your nasal allergies into gear. Rinse off live trees before you bring them in to avoid allergy symptoms. If you have an artificial tree and decorations that you use every year, they can accumulate dust and mold. Clean them before using them again this year.

5. Coats and scarves for a winter wonderland – If outdoor fun will be part of your holiday plans, make sure everyone is properly bundled up. Those with asthma need to be aware that extremely cold, dry air can be a trigger. If it’s very cold outside, cover mouths and noses with a scarf or face mask.

Credit: American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology


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