Keeping allergies at bay trough the holiday season

Dec 21, 2010

Getting out the boxes of holiday decorations from years gone by is a time-honored tradition. But in addition to stirring up memories, it also stirs up allergies.

“The dust from the boxes and on the that have been packed away in dank basements or dusty attics is triggering reactions in my and asthma patients,” said Joseph Leija, MD, allergist at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, part of the Loyola University Health System. During the allergy season, which runs from March to October, Dr. Leija provides the official Midwest allergy count, which is available on Gottlieb’s Web site, Twitter feed and phone line, and through Chicago media outlets.

The holidays are supposed to be some of the happiest times of the year. But popular seasonal items such as fresh trees, scented air fresheners, live plants and more make the holidays miserable for many.

Here are Dr. Leija’s top five tips for easy breathing this season:

• Use an artificial tree - The clean fragrance from the balsam, fir and pine trees available on every corner tree lot is pleasing, but it also aggravates respiratory conditions. Not only is the scent a problem, but the dust, mites and other pollutants on the once-live tree wreak havoc on your airways and nasal passages. “The water in the tree holder also grows stagnant and collects mold, which is detrimental to those with allergies,” Dr. Leija said.

• Never use scented candles or home fragrance oils - The popularity of home fragrance products and scented specialty candles reaches its pinnacle during the holidays - and so do allergies. Unplug the electric scent distributors and take a pass on the potpourri simmering pots. “Far from creating an inviting home, the fragrance aggravates the sinuses and respiratory system so sufferers can’t breathe,” Dr. Leija said.

• Avoid real poinsettias and fresh floral arrangements - “The moist soil encourages the growth of mold. And if there is mold in your house, you are breathing mold spores,” Dr. Leija said. This causes the passageways to swell and restrict airflow and can even cause skin rashes.

• Keep the humidity in check - Warm and cool air humidifiers are up and running in many homes now that the cold, dry air is here. “Get a gauge and keep the humidity no higher than 48 to 50 percent,” Dr. Leija said. “Too much humidity encourages the growth of mold, which triggers allergic reactions.”

• Store holiday decorations in large plastic tubs - Save yourself some sneezes next year by purchasing large resealable plastic tubs to store decorations. Keep them dusted during the year to avoid buildup.

Explore further: Financial incentives help economically-disadvantaged pregnant smokers quit and improve fetal growth

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Live Christmas tree brings scent, mold

Nov 14, 2007

Live Christmas trees may bring more than a fresh evergreen scent to U.S. homes during the holidays, they may bring allergy symptoms, a study showed.

Hay fever season peaking

Sep 03, 2007

Last month's downpour in the Midwest has triggered an increase in mold spores but dampened the U.S. pollen count -- at least temporarily.

Recommended for you

AMA examines economic impact of physicians

18 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Physicians who mainly engage in patient care contribute a total of $1.6 trillion in economic output, according to the American Medical Association (AMA)'s Economic Impact Study.

Less-schooled whites lose longevity, study finds

18 hours ago

Barbara Gentry slowly shifts her heavy frame out of a chair and uses a walker to move the dozen feet to a chair not far from the pool table at the Buford Senior Center. Her hair is white and a cough sometimes interrupts her ...

How to keep your fitness goals on track

18 hours ago

(HealthDay)—The New Year's resolutions many made to get fit have stalled by now. And one expert thinks that's because many people set their goals too high.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Teachers' scare tactics may lead to lower exam scores

As the school year winds down and final exams loom, teachers may want to avoid reminding students of the bad consequences of failing a test because doing so could lead to lower scores, according to new research published ...