For many people young and old in West Chester, this is the hap-happiest season of all. While the holidays bring laughter and joy, they can also cause coughing, sneezing and congestion for those prone to allergies. That’s enough to dampen anybody’s spirit.
I Thought Allergies Only Occurred in the Spring & Summer
The common perception that allergies are confined to the spring and summer months, when trees, grasses and plants release pollen into the air is simply incorrect. Just ask anybody in West Chester who is sniffling and sneezing through the coldest and darkest months of the year.
Why the sudden spike in allergies around the holidays? Indoor allergens are mostly to blame. Common triggers this time of year include:
- Season’s eatings! Calorie consumption is especially high during the holidays. Factor in family feasts like Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas; social engagements and parties; and workplaces filled with treats, those with food allergies are more likely to ingest something they are allergic to. Choose your foods wisely, no matter how tempting, to prevent an allergic reaction.
- Damp, cool weather – synonymous with the holiday season in many parts of the country – is a recipe for mold and mildew growth. It’s especially common in evergreens (think Christmas trees and wreaths) and decaying autumn leaves. Raking may feel like hard work, but it can spare you from misery in the long run.
- Dogs and cats tend to spend more time indoors during the holidays – Fido doesn’t like the cold any more than you do! – and while we enjoy their company, many of us could do without their accompanying dander, a surefire allergy trigger for some people. Bust out the vacuum cleaner often, bathe your pets frequently and keep them out of your bedroom and off the furniture to help spare your sinuses.
- There’s nothing cozier than a crackling fire on a cold winter’s evening, but wood-burning fireplaces produce particulates that can irritate the sinuses and worsen your allergy symptoms. Limit your fires for the coldest nights (and be sure the flue is open before lighting the log!) and consider buying a HEPA filter to remove the majority of fine particles from the air.
- Evergreen Decorations. Live Christmas trees and wreaths are festive and bring the scent of the forest indoors, but mold spores are attracted to evergreen decorations and that can spell misery for some. Invest in an artificial tree and a few pine-scented candles if you are especially sensitive.
- Dust Mites. These microscopic allergens make themselves at home in blankets and sheets. When the weather turns cold, people tend to snuggle up beneath blankets and sheets. Do you see the problem here? Invest in allergen-resistant pillow and mattress covers and wash your bedding in hot water frequently in order to discourage dust mites from taking up long-term residence.
If you’d like additional tips on preventing holiday allergies from flaring up, contact your West Chester ear, nose and throat doctor today.