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ACAAI > Patients & Public > Newsroom

Six Ways you Might Unknowingly Make Your Guests Sick this Holiday Season

Help guests check allergies and asthma at the door

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, ILL. (November 19, 2013) – The holiday season can gift you with more than you’ve wished for if you have allergies and asthma. Holiday traditions, such as Christmas trees, menorahs and poinsettia plants can cause symptoms. Those hosting holiday gatherings can also unknowingly present guests with the gift of sneeze.

“Allergy and asthma sufferers are bound to come across triggers this holiday season,” said allergist Michael Foggs, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). “By ensuring your home isn’t allergen laden, you can help guests relax, feel great and have an enjoyable season.”

To help you be the hostess with the mostess, and have the least amount of allergens in your home, the ACAAI offers the following advice.

  1. Meet Fido, Dusty and Mo– Dander, saliva and urine from animals can trigger allergic reactions and asthma attacks in guests. It’s best to thoroughly clean your home, ban pets from upholstered furniture and keep your pet in another room while visitors are present. Don’t forget about the other “pets” that might be in your home, including dust and Mo the mold spore. Vacuuming and cleaning hard surfaces can help remove dust mites, and replacing your air filter will help with both dust and dander. Be sure to also clean any visible mold from the bathroom and kitchen, as well as from the rubber seal on your refrigerator.
  2. Your Home Smells (Achoo!) Lovely– Candles and plug-in air fresheners may seem like a great way to freshen up your home, but they can be harmful. About one-third of people with asthma report health problems from air fresheners, which contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Store the candles and let the scents from the oven provide natural aromas.
  3. Cheers to an Allergic Reaction– Breaking out the bubbly might seem like a great way to toast the holidays. That is until your guests have an upset stomach, trouble breathing and itchy eyes. Reactions to alcohol can be triggered by naturally occurring ingredients in beer and wine, including barley, ethanol, grapes, histamine, hops, malt, oats, tryptamine, tyramine, wheat, and yeast. Try toasting with a holiday inspired punch or sparkling juice instead.
  4. Spice Isn’t So Nice– Spices may be a key ingredient in nearly every holiday dish, but they may also cause your guests to sneeze and wheeze. Spice allergy is responsible for an estimated two percent of food allergies. Common spice allergy triggers include cinnamon and garlic, but can range from black pepper to vanilla. Before you prepare your meal, check with guests about any food allergies they might have, including sensitivities to spice.
  5. Share Cheer, Not Viruses – The flu season coincides with the holiday seasoning, lasting from October to March. Protect yourself from giving and receiving the virus by getting a flu shot and washing your hands regularly. Have an egg allergy? According to ACAAI, even those with an egg allergy can receive the flu shot without special precautions.
  6. Chatty Cathy– Save long conversations for once you see your guests in person. Cell phones, including smartphones and flip models, can contain allergy-causing cobalt and nickel. These metals can cause redness, swelling, itching, eczema, blistering, skin lesions and occasional scarring. For sufferers that are glued to their phones, ACAAI advises opting for plastic phone cases, wireless ear pieces and clear film screens to decrease allergic reactions.

For more information about allergies and asthma, and to locate an allergist, visit AllergyAndAsthmaRelief.org.

About ACAAI

The ACAAI is a professional medical organization of more than 5,700 allergists-immunologists and allied health professionals, headquartered in Arlington Heights, Ill. The College fosters a culture of collaboration and congeniality in which its members work together and with others toward the common goals of patient care, education, advocacy and research. ACAAI allergists are board-certified physicians trained to diagnose allergies and asthma, administer immunotherapy, and provide patients with the best treatment outcomes. For more information and to find relief, visit www.AllergyandAsthmaRelief.org. Join us on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.