All during the year, the possibility exists for people with respiratory problems to suffer from allergy attacks. During the holiday season, however, more hidden dangers to health exist. Here are some tips for everyone — especially those suffering from asthma, allergies and other respiratory diseases — to stay healthy during the holiday season.
During the holidays, family and friends gather in celebration. People are hugging and kissing hello and goodbye, and, unfortunately, respiratory viruses get passed around. If you have a cold, use good judgment about close physical contact.
Irritating Odors and Cold Air
People with allergies may be exposed to smoke and irritating odors at parties. One person's fragrant cologne is another person's irritant. Also, kids with viral illnesses and asthma may be affected by the cold winter air. To prevent an onset of respiratory problems caused by breathing cold air, encourage children to breathe through their noses instead of their mouths, and cover noses and mouths with scarves to keep cold air out of the airways.
Food preparation is an issue for those with food allergies. You can eat your own turkey dressing, but what if you go to a party where the hostess makes hers with walnuts and you're allergic to walnuts? In extreme cases, you may have to bring your own meal. But generally, it's sufficient to let the hostess know about allergies well before the gathering, especially if kids have food allergies. Call ahead. Take time to be prepared. And don't leave your medications at home — bring your medications with you, so that you're ready to react in an emergency.
Gifts are seasonal delights, but consider a child's possible allergies before you bring goodies to the cash register. Let parents make the decision about gifts such as stuffed animals or live pets that can trigger allergic reactions. Look for toys that don't have strong odors associated with them.
Staying up late, eating junk food and getting excited can all trigger asthma attacks. People who have chronic problems such as asthma should pay attention to their normal preventive measures and make sure they're taking their preventive medications regularly. It's important to monitor chronic illnesses around holidays and on vacation, when normal schedules aren't followed.
Christmas Tree Allergies
Christmas trees are often cited as the source of allergy attacks during the holidays, but molds, associated with watering live trees and the chemicals sprayed on the trees are more likely irritants. There are very few cases among allergy patients in which the tree is the culprit. Allergic reactions usually occur shortly after an encounter with an allergen, such as dust mites or molds. Unpacking the Christmas ornaments can trigger allergic reactions. Decorations stored in a damp basement harbor molds, dust mites and other allergens. Moving, carrying and unpacking the Christmas boxes stirs up dust and transfers allergens to the hands and the respiratory system. Many people are first aware of the symptoms while decorating the Christmas tree and assume that the tree is the cause.
Keep ornaments and decorations stored in dry areas, off the floor, in plastic bags. Also, wash your hands after unpacking decorations. If you're very concerned about allergy symptoms, allow others to trim the tree.