While you may associate allergies with springtime, there are many people whose allergies flare up around the holiday season.
There are several factors that contribute to this. As Asriani Chiu, M.D., explains, “You’re in a closed-up house, the heater is on, the window’s shut – that’s why indoor allergies get worse in the winter.”
Fortunately, you don’t have to suffer from itching and sneezing during the holidays. Below is a list of common holiday allergy triggers and how to avoid them.
During the holidays, many people enjoy big meals with their families. These meals sometimes include contributions from many households, and probably not all the cooks are knowledgeable about your food allergies. In addition, the impressive spread may tempt you to try foods that may not be safe for you to eat due to hidden triggers or cross-contamination.
The first step to avoiding a food allergy reaction is to know your allergic triggers. Milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat together account for 90% of all food allergy reactions. It’s important to be tested by an allergist to know exactly what you’re allergic to. Once you know, be sure to communicate with your family to find out what ingredients are in each dish.
During the holidays, many decorate their homes with wreaths, boughs and trees. Mold spores love damp evergreens, and you may be inadvertently be introducing them into your home. They may also be carried in on decaying leaves that are tracked through the house.
We recommend investing in artificial decorations in order to avoid exposure to mold spores. If this doesn’t fit your holiday aesthetic, you can also rinse your tree with a hose outside and wait for it to dry before bringing it in your home.
Dust allergies are pervasive year-round, but tend to flare up around the holidays as we dig up holiday décor from the attic or basement. It’s also common to experience dust allergies when staying at a hotel or in a relative’s guest room.
In your own home, you can prevent dust allergies by changing air filters frequently, washing bedding in hot water at least twice a month, investing in allergy-resistant covers for the bed and maintaining 30-50% indoor humidity. While on the road, we recommend taking your own pillow with an allergy-proof cover or requesting a down-free pillow.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Oregon Ear, Nose & Throat Center.