The holiday season brings not only excitement and song, but also the possibility of allergic reactions and asthma episodes to asthma and allergy sufferers. Take a moment to think of the potential hazards that might trigger symptoms in you or your child. Dr. Avi Deener, WESTMED allergist/immunologist, offers these tips:
•If dust is a problem for you, when visiting family and friends, bring your own allergen-free pillow, or at least allergy covers to protect from dust mite exposure. Also, choose glass or metal ornaments for your Christmas tree because they are easier to clean. Cloth ornaments attract dust.
•If mold is an issue for you, then the tree itself could cause problems. Have your vendor shake out the tree with a special machine to get the mold off, and be sure that it’s totally dry before bringing it inside.
•Your host may have acquired a pet since your last visit. If pet dander triggers your allergies or asthma, be sure to ask the family you’re visiting if they have a household pet. If they have one, see if your host can keep it outside during your stay or at least out of the room that you’ll be sleeping in. You also may want to ask your doctor if there are any temporary changes to your usual medications that s/he might recommend.
•Enjoying the foods of the holidays is often the most fun part of the season, but remember: Homemade foods don’t typically come with ingredient lists, and the family member or friend doing the cooking or baking may not be aware of specific food allergies that might be a problem for you. If you’re traveling with little ones, bring your own allergy-free treats so that everyone can enjoy the holidays safely.
•Cold air is a frequent asthma trigger. Be sure to dress warmly and keep your face covered in blustery weather.
•A warm, cozy fire is great to huddle around on a cold December night. But for some asthma sufferers, the soot can be a trigger for an exacerbation. Be sure that ventilation is adequate and that you have your rescue inhaler available.
•And don’t forget to enjoy! With some preparation and mindfulness, everyone can enjoy the holiday season.