Millions of people suffer allergy symptoms caused by indoor allergens and the Holiday Season brings its own challenges. So how can you manage allergy and asthma flares during the holiday season? See the tips below to help keep the "Merry" in your Christmas! 

The Christmas Tree-We all love decorating a beautiful Christmas tree, but unfortunately trees can be a big cause of wheezing and sneezing for some people. This is not caused by the smell of the tree, but usually the mold growing on the tree. Your best option is to try an artificial tree, but keep it clean from dust. If you must have a real tree, wait until a few days before Christmas to bring the tree inside, and remove it as soon as possible after the holiday season. This will limit the exposure to the mold. You may also want to run an air cleaner in the same room as the Christmas tree to reduce allergens going into the air from the tree.  

Decorations and scents-Itchy water eyes, sneezing and coughing may be signs that your favorite smells of the season are making you miserable. Watch out for Christmas wreaths, potpourri and holiday air fresheners. They can irritate your eyes, nose and lungs, and trigger reactions.

Fireplace- Keeping warm by the fire may be inviting but smoke can worsen allergies and asthma. Check your fireplace to make sure it draws well so all the smoke goes up the chimney. Watch out for candles too, because their smoke may lead to troublesome symptoms.

Plants-We all love the festive look that poinsettia's bring to the season but if you have a latex allergy this plant may trigger a severe allergic reaction, because they are members of  the rubber tree family. Best to steer clear of them.

Food Allergies-Holiday time is party time, and what's a party without food? For people with food allergies, this is the time to be extra vigilant. If possible, send the host a list of the foods you're allergic to and request they not be served. To play it really safe, eat only the foods you bring to the party.

Pets-Your Aunt Mary's precious pooch may be cute, but could trigger your allergies. The animal dander lingers in the bedding and carpeting in homes and they may be full of  dust mites. Unfortunately, spending holiday time in other peoples homes can expose you to a variety of indoor allergens. Removing the pet from the home before  the party isn't enough to make a difference.  Avoid holding, or petting the animal if possible. If you do come in contact, keep your hands away from your face, and wash your hands with soap and water. 

To help keep your allergies at bay this holiday season, make sure you take your allergy and asthma medications regularly and carry your rescue inhaler or epi-pen with you as directed by your doctor.  You may also want to consider immunotherapy – allergy shots – to help build up tolerance to your allergies.

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