Holiday gatherings are festive fun, but it’s not easy to be the life of the party when you’re sniffling, sneezing and wheezing. From the host’s overpowering perfume to the nuts in the snack bowl, holiday parties can be a challenge for people with allergies and asthma.
“During the holiday season you’re going to be exposed to allergens,” said allergist Dr. Myron Zitt, M.D., past president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). “Be aware of where the problems lie so you can deal with them. And then, have a good time!”
Let your host know you’ll be at the party with bells on after following these suggestions from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) and its allergist members.
1. Medicate before you go: There’s almost no avoiding the dusty decorations, the holiday candles, the potpourri or the perfume-doused reveler, and any of them may cause an allergic reaction. Your best bet is to take your antihistamine before you go. Find an allergist who can prescribe appropriate medication.
2. Be the designated driver: Toast your host with sparkling water. In addition to being more clear-headed and safer on the road, you’ll avoid a possible reaction to ingredients, including preservatives in beer or wine. If you think you’ve had a reaction, it’s a good idea to see an allergist to determine the cause your misery.
3. Eat smart: From the creamy dip to the gooey chocolate dessert, holiday goodies can be tempting, but may contain many common allergens, including dairy, nuts, soy and wheat. Ask your host if the munchies contain anything you’re allergic to. And if you suffer from severe food allergies, always carry your injectable epinephrine.
Healthy eating is not about strict nutrition philosophies, staying unrealistically thin, or depriving yourself of the foods you love. Rather, it’s about feeling great, having more energy, and keeping yourself as healthy as possible- all of which can be achieved by learning some nutrition basics and using them in a way that works for you.
Healthy eating begins with learning how to “eat smart” - it’s not just what you eat, but how you eat. Your food choices can reduce your risk of illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, as well as defend against depression. Additionally, learning the habits of healthy eating can boost your energy, sharpen your memory and stabilize your mood. You can expand your range of healthy food choices and learn how to plan ahead to create and maintain a satisfying, healthy diet.
4. Steer clear of smoke: The cozy fire in the hearth can warm your cockles but make your lungs wheeze - smoke is a common asthma trigger. Go mingle in another room.
5. Don’t let the greens make you blue: Christmas trees and other holiday greenery that deck the halls look pretty, but are associated with several possible allergens. You may be allergic to the mold commonly found on the trunk or the terpene in the tree sap of a natural tree. And the artificial kind can be covered with dust - a common allergen - after spending the year in the attic. Be sure to thoroughly clean your tree before putting it up. Poinsettias, a member of the rubber tree family, are everywhere this time of year. Stay away if you have a latex allergy
6. Go on the defense: You could exchange more than conversation during cocktail party banter. Flu germs are everywhere and the illness can worsen asthma. Play it safe by getting a seasonal flu shot.
If you find you are sniffling and sneezing year round, allergy shots may be the treatment that can help you put your symptoms behind you for good.
Source: American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI)