Whether you host the feast or travel to visit family and friends, Thanksgiving can cause flare-ups for those with food allergies, asthma and other allergic conditions thanks to allergens in holiday meals and your Aunt Sophie’s lap dog.
Thankfully, the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) and its allergist members, doctors who are experts at diagnosing and treating allergies and asthma, can help you keep allergies and asthma in check with these tasty and helpful tips:
• Give your host a heads up ahead of time. – If you visit relatives or friends for the holidays, let them know about your allergy and asthma triggers well in advance. Discuss specific food allergies or asthma triggers like tobacco smoke or a wood-burning fireplace before arriving. The following steps can help if done at least a couple of weeks before you arrive:
o Stop all smoking in the house.
o Change the furnace filter (replace with a high efficiency MERV 11 rated filter if possible).
o Establish an “allergy free zone” by keeping pets out of the bedroom where you plan to sleep.
o Wash all bed linens and pillows in hot water.
o Vacuum well before you arrive, but avoid vacuuming during your visit.
o Place a HEPA air cleaner in the guest room a few days before arrival.
• Prepare for healthy holiday travel – If you travel by plane, be sure to pack your allergy medicine, inhaler or other prescriptions in your carry-on to keep close at hand. If dust mites are your trigger, pack an allergen-proof cover for your pillow.
• Kick allergens off the menu – Got a wheat allergy or dairy allergy? It might be hard to believe, but some turkeys (such as the self-basting variety) can contain soy, wheat and dairy. Choose a natural turkey instead – by law, it must be minimally processed and contain nothing more than turkey and water. The stuffing, green bean casserole and other Thanksgiving dishes can contain allergens, too, so read food labels while cooking. If you attend a celebration somewhere other than home, alert your host to any food allergies and ask to bring a safe dish or two. Pack safe snacks for children with allergies.
• Get a flu shot – “Catching the flu can result in a severe flair of asthma,” said allergist James Sublett, MD, chair of ACAAI’s public relations committee. “Don’t risk it – get a flu shot early before you’re exposed to all of your relatives and their germs.”
One of the keys to keeping allergies and asthma in check is to know what triggers your symptoms. An allergist can help you find out the cause of your suffering and develop a plan to help you find relief.
For more information about allergies and asthma, and to find an allergist near you visit AllergyAndAsthmaRelief.org.
Source: American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI)