Holidays and Allergies

For many people with a history of allergies and asthma, a few precautions during the holiday season will ensure full enjoyment of the festivities.

  1. Food allergies:  There is usually some increase in the incidence of emergency room visits due to adverse reactions from foods during December and January.  While attending parties, a thorough reading of the labels of all foods consumed reduces the risk of allergic reactions.  For home-made dishes, the preparer should be made aware of the known allergies of all the attendees beforehand.
  2. Though the Christmas trees themselves are unlikely to be responsible for allergic reactions, they can carry different type of irritants and molds indoors.  Exposure to mold spores in sensitive individuals can trigger acute allergic reactions resulting in ocular, nasal, and sinus related symptoms.  Thorough shaking and cleaning of the trees before they are brought inside can help reduce the exposure.  In addition, many live trees have a strong pine-like scent that can act as an irritant to certain individuals.  Alternatively, one can use an artificial tree instead of a live tree.
  3. Artificial trees, ornaments, and other decorations stored in damp basements or attics can also gather dust and molds and trigger allergic reactions.  Storing these in dry and air tight containers will reduce the risks.
  4. Strong odors from incense, potpourri, plugged in room fresheners, cleaning chemicals etc. are known irritants for many sensitized people.  Smoke from burning candles and/or a fireplace is very deleterious for asthmatic individuals.
  5. A seasonal increase in the prevalence of certain viruses and bacteria, coupled with overcrowding in closed spaces during holiday gatherings, are responsible for an increase in respiratory infections, which can aggravate asthma and may precipitate an acute attack.  Frequent hand washing, avoidance of contact with “sick” people, and vaccinations against communicable diseases can help prevent infections.
  6. While travelling, please always remember to pack your regular medications.  Do not forget to pack rescue inhalers and self-injectable epinephrine devices (e.g., EpiPen, Auvi-Q).

The board certified allergists and staff and Black & Kletz Allergy are always available to answer your questions and address your concerns.  We have 3 offices in the Washington, DC, Northern Virginia, and Maryland metropolitan area.  Our office locations are in Washington, DC, McLean, VA (Tysons Corner, VA), and Manassas, VA.  All 3 offices have on-site parking and the Washington, DC and McLean, VA offices are Metro accessible.  Our McLean office has a free shuttle between our office and the Spring Hill metro station on the silver line.  If you would like an allergy consultation with us, please feel free to call us or alternatively, you can click Request an Appointment and we will respond within 24 hours on the next business day.  We treat both adults and children and have been serving the greater Washington, DC area for over 5 decades.