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 exposed to multiple allergens,” said Dr. Steven McEldowney, of Allergy and Asthma Care of Blakeney, an allergist specializing in diagnosing and treating allergies and asthma. “Be aware of potential problems and triggers 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 Dr. McEldowney and the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI):
- 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. See an allergist, who can prescribe appropriate medication.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.