12 Allergy & Asthma Tips for the Holidays
MILWAUKEE- With the holiday season around the corner, millions of Americans are preparing to decorate their homes and gather for holiday feasts. But for the allergy and asthma sufferer, the holiday season holds several potential triggers, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI).
Whether it's setting up your Christmas tree, visiting your pet owning relatives, or feasting on holiday treats, allergy triggers may be lurking around every corner.
"With hectic schedules and constant traveling around the holidays, it's easy to forget to take proper care when dealing with allergies and asthma," said Wanda Phipatanakul, MD, MS, FAAAAI, vice-chair of the AAAAI's Indoor Allergen Committee. "Remembering to take medication and avoid potential triggers is necessary to keep symptoms under control."
The AAAAI suggests the following 12 tips to help your holiday season be reaction free:
- Before decorating a live Christmas tree, allow it to dry out on an enclosed porch or garage. You also may want to explore whether the tree retailer has a shaking machine, which will physically remove some allergens from the tree.
- Clean artificial Christmas trees outside before decorating. They can gather mold and dust in storage.
- Wash fabric decorations in hot, soapy water before displaying.
- Use plastic, metal or glass decorations that cannot trap dust mites.
- When spraying artificial snow on windows or other surfaces, be sure to follow directions. These sprays can irritate your lungs if you inhale them.
- When attending holiday parties, inform the host about your food allergy and ask about the ingredients used to prepare the meal.
- Carry self-injectable epinephrine in case you accidentally eat a food to which you are allergic. Homemade items do not have ingredient lists and can be contaminated with trace amounts of allergenic foods through contact with storage containers, baking sheets and utensils.
- Remind family members and friends that strict avoidance is the only way to manage food allergies and even one little bite can hurt.
- If visiting relatives' homes who have pets, take medication before arriving to minimize a possible reaction.
- The holidays can be a very stressful time of year. Pay attention to your stress level, which can sometimes lead to an asthma attack.
- Ask your relatives and friends to avoid burning wood in the fireplace. The smoke can trigger an asthma attack.
- Dust mites can be especially troubling when traveling away from home, take your own pillow with an allergen-proof cover and request down-free pillows if staying in a hotel.
Seek proper treatment
If your allergy and asthma symptoms are not under control, consult with an allergist/immunologist to discuss treatment and environmental control options. Allergist/immunologists are the best-qualified medical professionals trained to manage the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of allergies and asthma.
To find an allergist/immunologist in your area or to learn more about allergies and asthma, call the AAAAI Physician Referral and Information Line at 1-(800)-822-2762 or visit the AAAAI Web site at www.aaaai.org.
The AAAAI is the largest professional medical specialty organization in the United States representing allergists, asthma specialists, clinical immunologists, allied health professionals and others with a special interest in the research and treatment of allergic disease. Allergy/immunology specialists are pediatric or internal medicine physicians who have elected an additional two years of training to become specialized in the treatment of asthma, allergy and immunologic disease. Established in 1943, the AAAAI has more than 6,000 members in the United States, Canada and 60 other countries. The AAAAI serves as an advocate to the public by providing educational information through its Web site at www.aaaai.org.