Dealing with allergies over Christmas
Christmas is nearly here! Although most people will be looking forward to mince pies, log fires and a glass of fizz, allergies can make it more difficult to enjoy. Here are some helpful tips on how to manage you or your child’s allergies, so that you can stuck into Christmas with everyone else.
Christmas Tree Syndrome
Although the name sounds comical, Christmas Tree Syndrome is a real illness that can really put a downer on your Christmas celebrations. It’s a respiratory condition caused by mould spores that thrive in the damp conditions evergreen trees grow in. Once brought inside, a warm house and central heating give the perfect environment for these spores to multiply.
During the festive season, people are more likely to keep doors and windows closed and have large groups of people in the house. This, coupled with small children and pets brushing against the tree, can spread spores to other rooms. Even wreaths or live foliage can produce a similar effect.
Reactions to the spores vary but can include coughing, wheezing, sore itchy eyes, a runny nose and laboured breezing. To minimise the amount of spores you come into contact with, always wash down your tree before bringing it inside. It can help to leave bringing in the tree until the last minute too – having it inside your house for over two weeks creates the perfect breeding ground and can give you the strongest reaction. If you chose an artificial tree, wash it down before using and again before packing it away for next year.
Asthma attacks during the festive season are fairly common, with stress being a main cause, followed by lack of sleep and exhaustion. Cold winter air, wood smoke and strong, irritating odours such as cigarette smoke, perfume or scented candles can also worsen your asthma.
Regularly getting some fresh air, making sure you have plenty of sleep and minimising your use of indoor fires can all help symptoms. Keep your medication nearby too – this will ensure you don’t get overly worried about having an attack.
Food usually plays a central part in most festive celebrations, but a serious food allergy can turn a family dinner into a stressful affair. Cooking for yourself at home means you know for certain what goes into every dish, but when eating at a friend’s, this isn’t so easy.
Make sure to speak to them before-hand about what they plan to make and if it’s something that you can’t have, offering to bring a dish yourself will always be well received. If they’re happy to cook something different for you, make sure they understand about the risks of cross-contamination. Take any medication with you and watch out for allergens hidden in unsuspecting items – alcohol like baileys and gin for instance, has nut traces.
Many people with asthma can be sensitive to pet hair, and are often exposed to it during the festive season. When family and friends who have pets visit, even if it’s without the animals, pet hair can be brought into your home. Being in a confined space with lots of other people can give a stronger effect.
If a family pet is visiting your home, try to have areas within the house that are completely off limits so you can retreat there if your symptoms get really bad. Requesting that the animal have a bath before coming to stay can reduce the amount of fur and dander they shed, and cleaning regularly will help to limit the allergens present. Make sure you stock up on additional allergy treatments too but make sure you consult your doctor or GP before trying anything high strength.
Whatever allergies you suffer from, make sure you stay protected this Christmas time with medical ID jewellery. Listing all your important medical information, the ID allows first aiders to treat you correctly in an emergency.
The information in our blog articles is for personal use only and not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment plans. We are not medical health practitioners or mental health providers. If you’re worried about a potential medical condition, contact your GP or call an ambulance in an emergency situation.