Newswise — ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (Nov. 17, 2022) – Starting to plan your celebrations with family and friends during the winter holidays? Keep allergy and asthma triggers top of mind as you map out what your holidays will look like this year.
“People put pressure on themselves to have picture-perfect holiday celebrations, but they don’t always take allergies and asthma into account,” says allergist Kathleen May, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). “While the holidays bring much joy, some of the good times can be derailed by allergy and asthma flares. A few well-placed precautions can keep you healthy and get your new year off to a great start as well.”
Keep these five tips from ACAAI in mind as you plan your holiday festivities:
- That looks delicious! Does it contain…? – Every winter holiday has its own special treats on offer. If you’re celebrating at someone else’s home, keep your family members with food allergies in mind. Alert your host well in advance about items your family needs to avoid. Request that the host mark containers so all those in attendance know what they’re eating. Consider hosting at your house where you can be in control of ingredients. If it’s a potluck, let everyone involved know what the restrictions are.
- Decorate with flair; Don’t cause flares – You may think it’s a myth, but some holiday decorations, including trees, can trigger allergy symptoms. Some people have contact skin allergies to terpene, found in the sap of trees, as well as inhalant allergies to mold spores and pollen brought into the house by fresh trees and greenery. Consider washing your tree before you bring it inside to decorate. Be aware that if you re-use artificial trees and decorations from year to year, depending on how you store them, they can accumulate dust and mold. Take time to clean your annual decorations before they go up.
- Be a bit of a Scrooge with hugs and kisses – We’re barely into cold and flu season, and flu-related hospitalizations are the highest in more than a decade for this point in the season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Because the flu can make asthma symptoms more severe, it’s vital that everyone in your house – including those with egg allergy – gets a flu vaccine. Fist bumps and “air kisses” work well for greeting family and friends.
- Reduced stress can mean fewer symptoms – Some people assume holidays and stress go hand in hand, but increased stress can mean more negative health effects. Consider what helps decrease your stress load and deploy those activities to make the holidays go smoother. Exercise can boost your emotional balance, so keep up your exercise routine. If cold weather bothers your asthma, move your exercise routine indoors. Try yoga and meditation to keep you from feeling like your personal holiday candle is being burned at both ends.
- Do “Cheers” bring “Oh dears?” – People who enjoy a cocktail now and then know they can feel the effects the next day. But did you 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 every symptom shows up – 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 plenty of bubbly and festive non-alcoholic drinks that can be substituted.
If your allergies and asthma are bringing down your holiday spirits, 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.
The ACAAI is a professional medical organization of more than 6,000 allergists-immunologists and allied health professionals, headquartered in Arlington Heights, Ill. The College fosters a culture of collaboration and congeniality in which its members work together and with others toward the common goals of patient care, education, advocacy and research. ACAAI allergists are board-certified physicians trained to diagnose allergies and asthma, administer immunotherapy, and provide patients with the best treatment outcomes. For more information and to find relief, visit AllergyandAsthmaRelief.org. Join us on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.