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ADVANCE Perspective: Respiratory Views

Use Seasonal Precautions against Asthma, Allergies

Published December 10, 2009 10:12 AM by Vern Enge
‘Tis the season to be jolly. At least for most folks. But that may not hold true for people with asthma or allergies. For that group, Christmas trees, wreaths and seasonal goodies may trigger breathing problems and allergies.

To prevent wheezing and sneezing, a few precautions may be followed, according to experts from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI).Regarding those festive trees, it may be wise to note both real and artificial evergreens can trigger symptoms.

Live trees, wreaths and even garlands may contain terpene, found in the sap and oil of live evergreens. But they may also harbor mold or pollen as well.

This does not mean these items can't be used. It merely means some precautions are in order. ACAAI experts suggest a garden hose can be used to wash dust, pollen, and mold off trees. Even artificial trees, if not stored properly, can hold considerable dust and mold and should be thoroughly cleaned before use. The same is true of tree ornaments.

Don't overlook artificial snow, scented candles, potpourri, or wood-burning fireplaces either. These can serve as triggers.

Beyond that, watch out for foods that cause allergic reactions. During the holidays, strange seasonal food items may be offered, but they can be problematic, so the ACAAI warns people with allergies to check for ingredients in holiday foods carefully to stay on the safe side. Even something harmless looking can start a cascade of problems.

Those who have extreme reactions to dust mites might consider carrying their own pillows and mattress covers if they are travelling. And those with asthma and allergies should keep their medications handy to stop problems fast should they occur.

Stress can cause the body's immune system to weaken and falter, so the ACAAI cautions those with allergies and asthma to take proper precautions to stay as healthy as possible throughout the entire holiday season.


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