The holiday season can be stressful time of year for everyone, but particularly so for the families of children with allergies, asthma, or food allergies. Today we’re sharing tips from a local allergist for how to best survive the holidays with allergies this season.
Limit Exposure to Triggers
Indoor allergens and irritants are a problem during the winter and can be worse over the holidays. Mold from Christmas trees, dust on holiday decorations, and more confined exposure to animal allergens can all trigger asthma or allergies. Limit these exposures as best as possible. Consider an artificial tree if real trees have caused problems in the past. Store decorations in a dry area in a sealed container and wipe them off before bringing into the living area. Be sure to wash animals regularly and vacuum carpets with a HEPA filter vacuum.
Scented candles and potpourri are irritants that can affect children with allergies and asthma as well. Use non-scented candles. If you like the “holiday” smell, warm cinnamon sticks and orange zest in a pot of water on the stove. This effectively scents your home and is less likely to trigger symptoms than artificial fragrances.
Be vigilant at holiday parties where there is potential exposure to food allergens. Consider bringing safe food to the party or eating beforehand.
Stress can be a trigger for asthma as well, so it is important to try to get enough rest and take time as a family to relax and decompress.
If you are traveling over the holidays and staying in a hotel, look for allergy-free accommodations such as hotels that use air purifiers and have hardwood instead of carpet and blinds instead of drapes. Consider bringing your child’s own pillow or dust-mite cover.
Before going to a holiday party, talk to the host about your child’s food allergies. You might even offer to bring something that is safe for your child to eat that can be shared with others. Communication is key for food allergen avoidance. Make sure adults at the party are aware of your child’s food allergy so they can help monitor your child.
Find out if there will be pets in the home you are visiting, and be sure to take allergy medications before visiting.
Keep Emergency Medications Handy
Unfortunately, as much as we try to avoid triggers, accidental exposure can happen. Be prepared with emergency medications—such as rescue inhalers, epinephrine auto-injectors, and antihistamines. If you are flying, make sure to take these medications on the plane with you rather than in a checked bag.
With a little preparation, you and your child can enjoy a safe and happy holiday season!
Dr. Megan Partridge Stauffer is a board certified allergist with The Allergy, Asthma & Sinus Center. She received her medical degree from Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk. She completed her residency in Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland and her fellowship in Allergy and Immunology at Medical College of Georgia, Augusta. She is board certified in Allergy and Immunology and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (FAAAAI) and the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (FACAAI). Dr. Stauffer enjoys spending time with her family, foreign travel, and medical mission work and is also an active member of her church.