Holidays and allergies: Know how to avoid flare-ups
The holiday season is a special time, but it can also sometimes bring special challenges to people who suffer from allergies.
Holiday feasts and pitch-ins, Christmas trees and pets can all create reaction hazards for allergy sufferers, says Dr. Casselman of Reid Allergy.
For those suffering with food allergies, the holidays can be difficult because of the proliferation of gatherings and pitch-ins where the food comes from varied places and preparation environments.
Food allergy sufferers should be very mindful of specific ingredients in the foods consumed. These patients should also be careful to watch out for cross-contamination of foods being prepared or coming into contact with foods to which they are allergic.
When possible, bring your own foods to consume as the safest route or don’t be afraid to ask for details on dishes made by those you trust. And also be sure to always have your epinephrine auto injector on hand to use in the event of accidental ingestion of foods to which you are allergic.
Allergic reactions to Christmas trees themselves are rare. But the fragrance of a real tree can be irritating to the respiratory tract and can result in sneezing, nasal drainage/congestion and even asthma flare-ups. The trees can also contain mold spores, which can be a source of allergic trigger. Be sure to let the real tree dry and shake it well before putting it up.
Artificial trees are a good option for those who suffer from real tree exposures – but be mindful if it has collected dust in storage and take steps to keep it clean.
Holiday travelers can have particularly severe allergy attacks when arriving back home to their pets. This phenomenon can result when those allergy sufferers lose the tolerance they have to their pets after leaving the home for several days. Dr. Casselman suggests being sure to take allergy medication before returning home to pets – or better yet, bring them along for the trip.
Allergy immunotherapy is also an option to deal with pet allergies, he said.
Dr. Jason Casselman is an Allergist/Immunologist at Reid Allergy.
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