Holiday allergies can be minimized

Published 3:19 pm Saturday, November 22, 2008

If you or a loved one suffers from allergies or asthma, you probably know all too well that with the hustle and bustle of the holiday season comes a host of pitfalls that can trigger an attack. Here are some strategies to keep these triggers under control.

1. Restaurant dining: Take time to check restaurant menus before eating out. Call the hostess or manager and have them help you identify menu items the allergic person can safely eat.

2. True green: If a live tree is a holiday “must,” prep the tree before bringing it in the house. Ask if the retailer has a shaking machine, which will physically remove some of the allergens from the tree. If not, when you get it home, position it in a place well away from the house or garage and use a leaf blower to remove visible pollen. Before bringing it inside, wipe the trunk thoroughly with a solution of one part bleach to 20 parts lukewarm water.

3. Always green: Even artificial trees can present problems. Sometimes it is necessary to avoid those with sprayed-on snow.

4. Be prepared: You never know what you’ll encounter in the way of triggers, including pets, perfume and food, during holiday encounters. Don’t leave home without the proper medications and equipment, as well as a written action plan so others will know what to do in case of an emergency.

5. Decoration dust-off: Holiday decorations can gather mold and dust while in storage. Clean them before you start putting them up. And when it’s time to store them away, clean them, seal them in plastic bags, and store the bagged items in airtight containers or boxes.

6. Forego the fire: It is possible for smoke from burning wood to trigger an asthma attack. Gas fireplaces can be more allergy friendly!

7. Manage mold: Mold, an allergy trigger, can flourish indoors if the humidity is too high. Keep indoor humidity below 50 percent, as long as everyone is comfortable and allergy symptoms are minimal. If symptoms are a problem, keep humidity below 45 percent, and preferably about 35 percent. A hygrometer can be used to measure humidity accurately.

8. Rest up: The stress of the holiday season can sometimes trigger an asthma attack. Monitor your stress levels. If you do feel stressed, deep breathing and relaxation may help.