Holidays and Histamines: Avoiding Common Seasonal Allergen Triggers
If you suffer from sinus allergies, you should know the holidays harbor its own brand of histamine triggers that can impact you at any time. Each year, cooler temperatures coupled with a full lineup of get-togethers in uncontrolled spaces can present a unique range of allergen-filled environments. With all the doors and windows closed, heating systems turned on for the first time in months, and rooms adorned with evergreens and dusty decor, any Yuletide gathering can easily turn into an allergic sneeze-fest.
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America estimates that as many as 30 percent of adults and 40 percent of children are affected by allergies. The good news is you don’t need to skip the festivities just because you’re sensitive. With some simple observations and lifestyle changes, you can skate by some of the holiday sneezing and congestion.
From Thanksgiving and Christmas to Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, holiday occasions signal weeks of seasonal goodies that increase the odds of either accidentally or knowingly partaking in foods to which you’re allergic. Many holiday selections include processed and fermented meats, milk products, as well as fruits and vegetables that are known allergens. Don’t be shy to ask your host about potential ingredient hazards or bring your own allergen-free dishes.
Those evergreen wreaths may give you fragrant memories of grandma’s, but oftentimes, fresh-cut plants also carry invisible allergens like pollen and mold spores. Even artificial trees can significantly increase dust and mold counts inside your home. Use a damp cloth to clean your tree and ornaments when brought down from the attic. To remove pollens from your real tree, spray it with a garden hose before bringing it inside. Wear a dust mask and gloves when handling real greenery and place all ornaments in airtight containers when putting them away for next year.
With cooler temperatures outside, pets will be more inclined to cuddle up on the furniture – collecting dander and other allergens. So if you’re headed to a home with pets, it’s a good idea to take an antihistamine beforehand. Prescription-steroid nasal sprays can also significantly reduce allergy symptoms. Even better, make sure you’re up to date on your allergy shots before the holidays begin. When around pets, practice frequent hand-washing and avoid touching your eyes and face. If you’re staying overnight, consider bringing a HEPA filtration unit to clean the air in your room.
Dust mites are microscopic relatives of the spider and live in mattresses, bedding, carpets, and furniture. They’re well-known allergy and asthma triggers and don’t take holidays off. In fact, they can be even more aggravating during winter months, as the air becomes especially damp. When at home, change your air filters more often and wash bedding in hot water weekly. Dust mites can also be reduced by using a dehumidifier to keep humidity below 50 percent. If traveling, bring your own hypoallergenic pillow and allergen-proof cover for adequate protection.
When creating a defense strategy for the next allergy season, it’s best to know your specific triggers. Your allergist can not only help you discover what’s causing your symptoms, he or she can also help you manage and even prevent outbreaks from occurring during all seasons.
If you’re looking to alleviate your allergy symptoms, make an appointment with your allergy specialist today.