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Holiday Trimmings Can Trigger Allergies

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SATURDAY, Dec. 20, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- The holidays can be anything but joyous for people with allergies when they contend with fresh trees, scented candles and other allergy triggers.

"The dust from the boxes and on the decorations that have been packed away in dank basements or dusty attics is triggering reactions in my allergy and asthma patients," Dr. Rachna Shah, an affiliate faculty member at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, said in Loyola news release.

Shah, who is also an allergist at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital in Melrose Park, Ill., offered some tips to help people with allergies breathe easier during the holidays.

Clean your Christmas tree, whether it's real or artificial. "A tree that is moldy increases the spore counts in the home exponentially after just a few days, triggering reactions and illness," Shah said. "Some have found relief by spraying down the tree with water to remove mold and then limiting the amount of time the tree is indoors to 12 days or less."

If you decide on a live tree, you need to know that no variety is less allergenic than others. Also, stagnant water in the tree holder collects mold, which can trigger allergies.

"Artificial is the best if you have allergies," Shah said.

Store decorations in sealed plastic tubs and clean them occasionally during the year and before you use them.

If you or a family member has food allergies, bring your own treats to parties. "Those with egg, nut or dairy allergies especially can play it safe and enjoy the parties if they know what they are eating and drinking," Shah said. "Communicating in advance with the host can help avoid illness."

Do not use scented candles or home fragrance oils, keep your home free of real poinsettias and fresh floral arrangements, and control the humidity levels in your home in order to prevent the growth of mold, Shah advised.

And take time to relax. "Anxiety has been shown to increase asthma symptoms," Shah said. "Use relaxation methods such as deep breathing, meditation or yoga to maintain control during the holiday hustle-bustle."

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about allergies.


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