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ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, IL (Dec. 8, 2020) – You already downsized your Thanksgiving due to COVID-19, and now you’re contemplating a smaller celebration for the holidays. Unfortunately, your allergies and asthma still need full scale precautions to get you through the season.
“This year’s holidays will definitely look and feel different from years past,” says allergist Luz Fonacier, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). “Although having a big family celebration is on everyone’s wish list, it probably won’t be happening due to COVID-19 precautions. But allergies and asthma don’t follow a holiday schedule and will still need your attention to keep symptoms under control. Being symptom-free will make your holidays cheerier and brighter.”
These five tips from ACAAI can help you have a safe, fun, symptom-free holiday season.
- Keep smoke and flames to a minimum – While a roaring fire is lovely, smoke of any kind poses risks for those with asthma. Whether it’s smoke from a fireplace or burning candles for Hanukkah, smoke can prompt an asthma attack. Many people like to use holiday-themed aerosols like air fresheners and artificial snow, as well as potpourri and other scents. While they are not allergic triggers, they can be irritants to already inflamed airways.
- Holly, jolly and sneeze-free – While allergies to pine trees are fairly rare, keep in mind that some live trees have mold spores and fall pollen on them, which when carried into the house can kick your nasal allergies into gear. Rinse off live trees before you bring them in to avoid allergy symptoms. If you have an artificial tree and decorations that you use every year, they can accumulate dust and mold. Wipe them down before using them again this year. If you are someone who has contact skin allergies to a substance called terpene found in the sap of trees, it’s possible your tree could cause skin and eye irritation.
- You’ll still want to make delicious treats – You may not be hosting huge parties or exchanging platters of cookies, but that doesn’t mean you don’t want your holiday meals to be tasty. If you have family members with food allergies and are contemplating new recipes, do your due diligence to make sure they’re free of food allergens. Expand your holiday repertoire by visiting web sites that cater to those with food allergies and list alternate ingredients for recipes.
- When something bubbly just doesn’t sit right – Many people don’t know it’s possible to have an intolerance to alcohol that shows up as a stuffy nose, headache and/or flushed skin immediately after drinking. Not all symptoms must be present – it can be one, or a combination. The reaction, while not an allergy, is most often seen after drinking red wine and alcohol that has color. The only way to prevent the reaction is to avoid alcohol. Fortunately, there are many bubbly and festive non-alcoholic drinks that can be substituted.
- The weather outside might be frightful – This year more than ever, outside fun is a great way to blow off steam and enjoy time out of the house. If you or your kids suffer from asthma, be aware that extremely cold, dry air can be a trigger. Make sure everyone is properly bundled, wearing face masks for COVID-19 prevention and, if necessary, add scarves to cover necks and mouths.
If you are struggling with allergies or asthma, find an allergist to diagnose and treat your symptoms and to work with you to create an individual action plan. An allergist can help you live the life you want. To find an allergist in your area, use the ACAAI allergist locator tool.