‘Tis the season for feeling allergic to the holidays. Maybe you’re sneezing and coughing while setting up the Christmas tree. Or your eyes itch when the family lights the menorah or other holiday candles.
Look what the tree dragged in
In some cases, your seasonal allergies are being aggravated by mold and pollen hiding on the tree you brought home from the farm.
Dr. Nana Fenny at Sanford Health in Bismarck, North Dakota, suggests hosing down the tree. In cold weather, though, simply letting it sit in the garage for a day will dry out a fresh tree enough to kill the mold.
On the other hand, artificial trees can be covered in irritating dust mites. These trees need a good cleaning every year. Fenny also suggests washing seasonal stuffed animals annually.
What’s that smell?
Doctors say reactions to scented candles are probably not a true allergy. But, like millions of people you might have fragrance sensitivity.
Symptoms can be similar to allergic reactions, and may include:
- Difficulty breathing
- A tight feeling in the chest
- Worsening asthma symptoms
- Runny and stuffy nose
- Itchy, red rash that appears on the skin
Research suggests avoiding your triggers. An over-the-counter allergy medication might help alleviate symptoms.
What’s your trigger?
Another possible cause for your feeling of being allergic to holidays is idiopathic environmental intolerance (IEI), which means your body reacts to certain common substances. Also not a true allergy, researchers haven’t found a direct cause for this condition.
Synthetic and natural substances are known to trigger IEI. That’s why you might react to both the fresh cut tree in your house and the fake one at your mom’s apartment. Other environmental triggers can include:
- Food additives
- Carpet and furniture
- Perfumes and other scented products
- Cigarette smoke
- Smoke from wood-burning stoves
- Inhaled ozone and nitrogen dioxide
- Inhaled sulfur dioxide
- Dust storms, forest fires, volcano ash
- Vehicle exhaust, petroleum refining, fossil fuel combustion
- Cleaning fluids
- Pesticides and herbicides
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