Published December 08, 2008
The Yule log is burning in the fireplace and various holiday ornaments are back in use for the holiday season. This is a particularly tricky time for those affected by indoor allergies, sinus problems, asthma and other respiratory disorders. Each year my staff and I take the extra time to educate our allergy sufferers and better prepare them for the onslaught of holiday and winter-time allergies.
First, do you notice that when the family Christmas tree, complete with holiday ornaments makes its appearance in your home, your nasal, eye, sinus and various respiratory symptoms begin to worsen? Live Christmas trees can trigger mold allergies and the spores that thrive on their branches can trigger weeks of suffering.
Many people consider pine tree pollen to be the primary cause of their allergy symptoms during the holidays. But, while it's possible to have an allergy to pine tree pollen, you're much less likely to have symptoms during the Christmas season because pine trees mostly pollinate in the spring.
Christmas trees are a source for mold spores which attach to the branches and needles. Because these trees may be cut up to two months before they arrive in your home, and are kept alive by daily watering, which over time, can lead to mold growth.
Typically, spore counts in your house climb when evergreen trees are brought indoors. Connecticut allergist Philip Hemmers, who recently studied this holiday phenomenon, found that indoor mold counts in a home with a Christmas tree increased to five times the normal level within two weeks of bringing the tree indoors. So if you are allergic to mold, try running an air cleaner in the same room as the tree and shorten the length of time you have the tree in the house to limit mold exposure. And for those who are sensitive to odors, avoiding live Christmas trees may be a wise decision because the aroma could irritate their eyes and nose.
Terpene, which is found in the oil and sap of many evergreen trees and wreaths, is also a potential allergy culprit. Terpene can cause skin rashes when it comes in contact with the skin of allergic individuals.
So, how can you reduce the risks of Christmas tree allergies interfering with your holidays? Here are some tips that may help_
The risks associated with a real or artificial tree can be reduced significantly by following simple precautions: