Controlling Allergies During the Holidays

While holidays are a great time of year for family gatherings and celebrations, they can be challenging for people with any type of allergy. First, and likely the most serious, is the possibility of a food allergy reaction. Accidental contact with a food allergen is more probable when eating at another person’s house, or when multiple people are preparing, handling, and serving food.(1)

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America advises people with food allergies to plan ahead for holiday events. Hosting an event yourself can give you control over the food that is served. If visiting another home, be sure to speak with the host ahead of time and learn what food will be served, and where it is being prepared. Suggest food from allergy-aware companies. There are several companies that offer products free of the top nine allergens. If eating buffet style at someone’s home, dish up your plate (or your child’s) first. This can help prevent cross-contamination with other foods.(1)

Beyond food, holiday decorations may cause allergic reactions, as well. A Christmas tree may have mold spores that can trigger an allergic reaction or asthma. Choosing an artificial tree is an option, of course. With a fresh tree, letting it dry in a garage before bringing it in the house can help with mold, advises the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.(2) Also use caution when spraying artificial snow, as this can irritate the lungs and trigger asthma.(2)

When taking out decorations that have been stored for a year, wear a respirator, which is engineered to properly filter small particles. Low filtration efficiency face coverings with large gaps, such as homemade cloth masks and surgical masks, do little more than create a visual blockage when the concern is airborne particles. Unpack them outdoors or in a garage, to prevent bringing dust into the home, recommends the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.(3)

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(1) Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Avoid Food Allergy Reactions During the Holidays,

(2) American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, Allergies, Asthma, and Winter Holidays,

(3) Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, 5 Asthma and Allergy Tips for a Healthier Home for the Holidays,