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During December, many of the 50 million allergy sufferers in the United States may feel as though they’ve just recovered from their fall allergy symptoms when a whole new round of allergies crop up. Indoor allergy and asthma triggers can strike year-round round, and can hit especially hard at gatherings in the homes of friends and relatives – or while traveling. Sufferers need to be aware of “holiday triggers” that make their allergies and asthma worse.

Your goal may be to celebrate the holidays in style this year, but your allergies and asthma are making you feel like the Grinch – before his heart grew two sizes. Bah. You may not even be aware of what’s causing the extra sniffling, sneezing and itchy eyes.

Two thirds of allergy sufferers have symptoms year-round, so it’s not just a matter of the first freeze hitting and your symptoms disappearing. Even after the pollen season dies down, there are environmental triggers to deal with – things like mold, dust and pet dander. The winter holidays can bring a whole new set of triggers.

The following are some tips on steering clear of allergic triggers that surface during the holidays, including some you may not have been aware of…

Oh, the weather outside is frightful!

Half the fun of the winter holidays is being outside – caroling, building snowmen, sledding. But if you have asthma, you need to know that very cold, dry air can be a trigger. If you’re heading outside and it’s very cold, cover your mouth and nose with a scarf or face mask – particularly if you’ll be exercising.

Over the river, and through the woods...

If you’re traveling for the holidays and have allergies or asthma, be sure to pack your medicines. Some hotels now offer allergy-free rooms, so inquire when booking your stay. If you’re allergic to dust mites, bring your allergy-blocking bedding. If you need injectable epinephrine, make sure you have two for your trip.

Sneezing around the Christmas tree!

Lots of traditions swirl around the holidays – and lots of dust, too. If you store ornaments and artificial trees in the attic without being covered, they may be full of dust, which can cause allergies to flare. Clean them thoroughly before putting them up, and when the holidays are over, store them in airtight boxes so that next year you’ll deal with fewer triggers. If you buy a real tree, know that some people have contact skin allergies to terpene, found in the sap of trees, as well as inhalant allergies to mold spores and pollen brought into the house by fresh trees and greenery.

Bring us a figgy pudding – or not.

The holidays often involve events where other people prepare the food. If you or your kids suffer from food allergies, you’re probably skilled at bringing something you know everyone in your clan can eat. You might also want to give the host a heads up if there are certain ingredients she needs to steer clear of. Check labels of anything that’s pre-prepared that you haven’t eaten before. And know that lots of websites have allergy-safe recipes for holiday classics.

Not sure exactly what’s making you miserable? Here at MASA, we can help ease your suffering by identifying your allergy or asthma triggers and prescribing treatment. Call us at 309-452-0995 or 217-717-4404 to book your appointment today! Happy holidays!