Allergies associated with Winter and Christmas

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Winter and Christmas allergies are equally or worse than other seasonal allergies. During winter season, air circulation in homes, limited by doors and windows closed, prevent cold air from entering. In uncirculated air, allergens built up or breed, especially in energy efficient homes, and homes being renovated.

In some homes, raising the thermostat, using furnaces or stoves to keep warm, triggers more allergic reaction. In winter season, people spend more time indoors, where they are exposed frequently to mold, dust mites, Christmas trees, and pets, which may cause, an allergic reaction. Mold growth can be slowed down, by keeping humidity below 40 percent, using a dehumidifier. Also, cleaning bathrooms and kitchen frequently, with bleach-based solutions, prevents mold from growing. As temperatures fall, those allergic suffer.

Christmas trees:

Decorated Christmas trees look beautiful, but cause many allergies. Live Christmas trees and ornaments, sometimes carry dust. Many people are allergic to dust. When unpacking decorations that have been stored in your basement or attic, do you start sneezing?

You should store away decorations in a dry area, and sealed in plastic bags or containers. Potentially, artificial trees accumulate mold or dust, because of improper storage. Before assembling an artificial tree, clean the outside of the artificial tree with a wash cloth or apply a cleaning solution. This will dispose of any accumulated mold and dust.

Often, live trees are cut months before being sold. These trees are exposed to rain and slush, breeding mold on the barks. Mold can cause allergies, especially harmful to anyone who has asthma. The tree SAP or resin, and the pollen attached to the branches and needles, can cause allergic reactions, especially in poor ventilated areas.

There are commercial fungicides you can spray on your tree before decorating. However, chemically treated trees may cause allergic reactions in some people. The best type of Christmas tree for allergy suffers is one grown organically. Organically grown Christmas trees not exposed to, any chemical fertilizer insecticides or pesticide.

Holiday foods:

Delicious foods - pastries and cakes - are served during Christmas. However, many contain ingredients harmful to those suffering allergies. Allergens can be hidden in eggnog, fruitcakes, dips, quiches, dried fruit, baked goods, salads, seafood, and salad dressings. Anyone, allergic to peanuts or nuts must beware of ingredient added to many types of deserts or meals.

Signs of food allergies are itchy, red, swollen area of the skin, vomiting, and diarrhea. In severe cases, an episode will involve swelling in the mouth and constriction of airways. This can lead to low blood pressure, and more severe health problems.

Also, cross food contamination is equally serious. Opening storage containers, cookie, jars or bags previously stored can cause an allergic reaction. Injecting epinephrine helps treat food allergies. Preventing life threatening reactions. For more information, call Food Allergy Network: 1- 800 - 929 - 4040 or visit their website:

Pet allergies:

Forty million Americans suffer dog and cat allergies. the condition is worse during winter months, when dogs and cats spend more time indoors. Dander (tiny scales shed from animal skin) and hair accumulates more frequently during winter season.

Keep pets confined to one area of the home or "allergy free" zone, limiting allergic reactions. During the Christmas holiday, when visiting family, friends, and relatives, beware of the pets your are visiting too. Before giving a pet Christmas gift, make sure the person and occupants of the home are not allergic. Bathing pets once a week reduces allergens on furs as much as 84 percent. Less effective, use commercial pet sprays combat pet allergies.

Seasonal changes:

According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI), winter climate change to chilly temperatures may cause a cold allergic induced reaction, referred to as Urticaria (also, known: Nettle - Rash, hives or wheals).

This can cause hives, as temperatures rapidly change, either up or down. Hives are pale, and form red swellings in groups on the skin; they itch, burn and stings.

Also, allergic reaction to foods, medicine, stress, infection and insect bites cause urticaria. This uncomfortable condition, lasts for seconds to hours, on the body. After the condition subsides, it leaves behind no trace. Urticaria affects 15-20% of the population. Prescribed antihistamines alleviate symptoms.

Smells of the season:

Some people are allergic to fragrance, scented candles or potpourri. Alternative solutions: Make homemade potpourri with vanilla, cinnamon or peppermint flavoring.

Families, friends, neighbors who gather together during holiday season should prohibit smoking indoors, preventing those allergic to tobacco smoke, and preventing the hazards of second hand smoke.

Install and use exhaust fans in kitchens and bathrooms. During the winter months, replace furnace filters often. Carpets should be vacuumed or cleaned, preventing dust mites or allergens. Paper and newspapers should not be used for wrapping decorations. These may contain paper mites, causing allergic reaction, including skin rashes.

Take precautionary steps, spraying artificial snow on windows, or other surfaces. This may contribute to an allergic reaction, especially for those with breathing or lung problems.

Never store wood inside a home, for a fireplace. Wood bark could accumulate mold, and this may cause an allergic reaction. Fire wood brought into the home, should be used immediately.

Taking allergy medications, including antihistamines, can help treat allergic symptoms during the year. Using ionic air purifiers, which produce ionic breeze of negative ions, removes pollen, dirt, mold, and allergens.

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