Holidays can mean seasonal challenges for allergy sufferers

Holidays can mean seasonal challenges for allergy sufferers

For many, outdoor allergies won't be a problem until next year.

But many with food allergies or asthma can't let their guard down.

"This is a time of year where we should have heightened awareness about our allergies," said Dr. David Kaufman, of Breathe America.

During the holiday season, people typically eat things they don't normally consume and go to holiday parties where not everyone is aware of everyone's allergies.

Some people may not realize that a fruit cake could be made with nuts or eggnog could contain cream or milk.

"With food allergies, most reactions occur with people that have already been diagnosed with that allergy," Kaufman said. "So take that knowledge and keep your emergency epinephrine pen handy and bring it with you to holiday parties."

Allergies can change throughout someone's life.

Older people have less of a chance of developing a new food allergy, Kaufman said.

And people who have one or more allergies are more likely to develop a new one than someone without a food allergy, he added.

Kaufman said he has cleared numerous patients of their food allergies.

But the holiday season also can impact people with asthma or airborne allergies.

Emergency rooms typically see an uptick visits from people with asthma around the holidays, Kaufman said.

"Viruses are probably the number one trigger this time of year. We spend more time indoors. There is closer contact [with each other]; and we are spreading germs much easier.

:Anybody with nasal allergies, asthma, sinus disease or people who have chronic cough, all of those are going to be triggered by viruses."

Holiday decorations can collect a lot of dust while stored in an attic or basement.

So Kaufman suggests that asthma sufferers wear masks when they unpack their decorations.

The decoration that can cause the biggest concern during the holiday is the Christmas tree.

"The trees themselves can be a problem," Kaufman said.

"Artificial trees can be dusty. Live trees are a known problem with people with allergies and asthma."

A tree's fragrance can agitate people.

"It's a plant that is no longer living anymore, so mold will start to be predominant," Kaufman said. "If you leave the tree in your home for upward of a month, then people can develop symptoms from that."

The number one treatment is to avoid the things that trigger your allergies.

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