Don’t Let Allergies Dull Your Christmas Cheer (PKG)

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – unless, perhaps, if you have allergies. Sandra Hong, M.D., gives advice on how to keep itching and sneezing from stealing your holiday cheer.

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CLEVELAND – It’s the most wonderful time of the year – unless perhaps if you have allergies.

According to Sandra Hong, M.D., an allergist at Cleveland Clinic, many people notice that when the yuletide season rolls around, they often find themselves sneezing with itchy eyes and runny noses.

She said that in some cases, Christmas pine trees could be to blame.

“Live trees can actually have both the scent that can rev up people’s allergies and their asthma; but in addition to it, they can come with mold on them,” she said.

For those who simply cannot go without having a live tree in the home, Dr. Hong recommends washing the trunk of the tree, which can help remove some of allergens.

An artificial tree can also trigger itching and sneezing for those who are allergic to dust and mold. To prevent dust and mold from gathering on holiday decorations, Dr. Hong said to make sure they are sealed as tightly as possible and covered when they are placed into storage.

Another common allergen often lurking at holiday gatherings can be found in a bowl of mixed nuts.

“People come in, they eat some mixed nuts, and if there are nuts in there that they’ve not had, they can have an allergic reaction,” said Dr. Hong

She said the most common allergies people run into this time of year are peanuts, tree nuts, seafood, wheat, soy and egg.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction include hives, feeling like you are going to pass out, shortness of breath, feeling itchy, tingling in the mouth, a stuffy nose, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

If you or a loved one start to feel any of these symptoms, Dr. Hong said it’s best to seek emergency care right away.

She said allergic reactions are common during the holidays, simply because people are eating things that they don’t normally eat on a regular basis.

But there’s no need to be frightful, just be mindful.

“During these times, I would just be aware that these things can happen, to yourself, or any of your loved ones,” said Dr. Hong. “If you notice any strange symptoms that you typically wouldn’t get within four hours of eating a food, just be aware that food allergy could be a possible cause.”

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