Holidays Tough on Allergies, Here's Some Advice

Reporter: Shannon Samson

It's not just the decorations you put up, it can be what you put on the dinner table that causes a serious reaction for allergy and asthma sufferers.

There are some potential triggers to be aware of and precautions to take. If not for you, then for your holiday guests. Many folks welcome the smell of pine into their homes, but not something else these Christmas trees may bring with them: mold.

Allergist Dr. Anne McLaughlin says that people with allergies don't have to forgo a live tree altogether as long as... "You can get them shaken first or if you can put them on a porch or garage and let them dry out before putting them up in your home."

Artificial trees aren't necessarily better. After being in storage for eleven months, they too can be full of mold and dust. A quick cleaning, along with the decorations, will do a lot to minimize symptoms for your holiday guests.

And if you have pets, Dr. McLaughlin says, "Keep the cat out of the room they're going to be in. Keep the cat locked up. Make sure the cat doesn't jump in their lap or rub against them and then also try to clean as best as you can the area where you're going to be entertaining this person with the cat allergy. Try to clean it up as best you can, vacuuming, wiping down surfaces, things like that. It's not going to completely clean it, but at least it might help some."

Avoid burning wood in the fireplace since the smoke can trigger an asthma attack.

And be very mindful of all the ingredients that go into your holiday feast. Dr. McLaughlin says,"Someone with a milk allergy, even if one spoon has been used in a dish to make something with milk and then it's placed in another dish, that can cause an allergic reaction. So, for people who don't have allergies to understand that just one little bite, one little touch of something can cause a very, very, severe reaction."

In case they do eat something wrong, visitors with severe allergies should carry self-injectable epinephrine and make sure they're not the only ones who know how to use it.

It is possible to have a flare-up of allergy or asthma symptoms after you've been away from home and away from your pets for a while. You can actually lose your tolerance to pet allergens during a long holiday weekend. Allergists call that the "Thanksgiving Effect."

For a list of 12 allergy & asthma tips for the holidays, go to The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology website at:

And check out AAAAI's topic of the month at: