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Don't Let Allergies
Ruin Your Holiday Season

Anyone who has been sick during the Holiday Season will attest that this is the worst time for being "under the weather." But imagine what it would be like to be sick every year during the holidays starting Thanksgiving through New Year's. That is exactly what happens to many people who suffer from allergies and asthma.

"It brings a whole new meaning to the term Seasonal Allergies", says Joseph R. Perez, M.D. an allergist/immunologist at Allergy & Asthma Care of Houstonin Sugar Land, Texas.

"Many things can be problematic to allergy and asthma sufferers during this season because people are taking out decorations from storage which can harbor dust mites, mold, and other inhalant allergens or bringing in objects from outdoors into their home such as a Christmas tree.

Also people spend prolonged periods of time outside putting up decorations which can leave them exposed to potential triggers", says Dr. Perez.

The American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology suggests the following 12 tips to help you manage the season:

1. Before decorating a live Christmas tree, allow it to dry out on an enclosed porch or garage. You also may want to explore whether the tree retailer has a shaking machine, which will physically remove some allergens from the tree.

2. Clean artificial Christmas trees outside before decorating. They can gather mold and dust in storage.

3. Wash fabric decorations in hot, soapy water before displaying.

4. Use plastic, metal or glass decorations that cannot trap dust mites.

5. When spraying artificial snow on windows or other surfaces, be sure to follow directions. These sprays can irritate your lungs if you inhale them.

6. When attending holiday parties, inform the host about your food allergy and ask about the ingredients used to prepare the meal.

7. Carry self-injectable epinephrine in case you accidentally eat a food to which you are allergic. Homemade items do not have ingredient lists and can be contaminated with trace amounts of allergenic foods through contact with storage containers, baking sheets and utensils.

8. Remind family members and friends that strict avoidance is the only way to manage food allergies and even one little bite can hurt.

9. If visiting relatives' homes who have pets, take medication before arriving to minimize a possible reaction.

10. The holidays can be a very stressful time of year. Pay attention to your stress level, which can sometimes lead to an asthma attack.

11. Ask your relatives and friends to avoid burning wood in the fireplace. The smoke can trigger an asthma attack.

12. Dust mites can be especially troubling when traveling away from home, take your own pillow with an allergen-proof cover and request down-free pillows if staying in a hotel.

Following simple preventative measures can help avoid potential allergy and asthma symptoms. Being prepared to treat your symptoms if they occur is also important.

If your symptoms persist, consult with an allergist/immunologist who is specially trained in diagnosing and treating allergies and asthma.

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