Allergies and Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa Holidays

As we approach the festive holiday season, many individuals will be plagued with increased allergy and/or asthma symptoms.  While most of us will not experience allergic symptoms this holiday season, there are a lot of people who have allergies that will be affected by various allergens during the Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa holidays.

During the holidays, individuals may be exposed to decorations that are stored in closets or basements for a long period of time.  These decorations regularly attract dust and/or molds which to many will cause allergic rhinitisallergic conjunctivitis, and/or asthma symptoms.  The typical symptoms that occur may include runny nose, nasal congestion, post-nasal drip, sneezing, itchy nose, itchy eyes, watery eyes, redness of the eyes, sore throat, sinus congestion, sinus headaches, snoring, fatigue, wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and/or shortness of breath.

Christmas trees may also cause allergy and/or asthma symptoms.  Both natural and artificial trees may be to blame.  Natural Christmas trees are known to harbor many varieties of mold.  A study published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology found that there were about 50 varieties of mold isolated from some natural Christmas trees.  About 75% of these molds were known to cause allergic rhinitis (i.e., hay fever) symptoms.  In addition, having a real Christmas tree in a home can increase the amount of indoor mold.  Mold counts in a room with a live Christmas tree are higher than the same room once the tree is removed.  Artificial Christmas trees often introduce dust and molds to individuals especially in the case where they have been stored in dusty and/or moldy environments.  Occasionally, the materials used to make the tree is the offending agent as it can cause nasal, sinus, ocular, and pulmonary symptoms.  Usually this is due to an irritant (e.g., chemical) in the materials, and thereby not an actual allergy in the classical sense, however, allergy-like symptoms may ensue.  It is recommended to clean the tree by shaking the tree, hosing it off with water, and/or blowing the dust off using an air compressor regardless if it is natural or artificial in order to minimize the allergens and irritants.

Regardless whether you celebrate Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Christmas, or merely just get together with family or friends for a non-religious occasion, the winter holiday season can be a problem for some allergic individuals because of food allergies.  The most common food allergies are milk, wheat, soy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish.  In sensitive individuals, a food allergy can be very severe and life-threatening.  It is very important for the host(s), as well as other people who bring dishes from their homes to be extremely careful when cooking food to know exactly what is in the food so that they can warn the food-allergic individual(s).  More and more, people will prepare dishes without the offending food for the sensitive individual, so he or she can eat without concerns.

The board certified allergists at Black & Kletz Allergy hope that everyone enjoys the upcoming holiday season.  We are here to meet your allergy and asthma needs for the people of the Washington, DC, Northern Virginia, and Maryland metropolitan area.  We treat both adults and pediatricpatients.  We have offices on K Street, N.W. in Washington, DC, McLean, VA (Tysons Corner, VA), and Manassas, VA.  There is on-site parking at each of the 3 offices.  Our Washington, DC and McLean, VA locations are Metro accessible.  Black & Kletz Allergy offers a free shuttle service between our McLean, VA office and the Spring Hill metro station on the silver line.  If you suffer from allergies, asthma, sinus problems, hives, or immunological disorders, please call us to make an appointment.  You may also click Request an Appointment and we will get back to you within 24 hours by the next business day.  Again, we wish you a happy holiday season.