• By Jeff Olsen

Mayo Clinic Minute: Heads-up on holiday allergies

December 12, 2017

For a person with allergies, the holiday season can create challenges. Decorated trees,  roaring fires and a plate of Christmas cookies can lead to problems.

“A person who is allergic needs to be an advocate for himself, because it’s always better to be safe than sorry,” says Dr. Rohit Divekar, a Mayo Clinic allergic diseases specialist.

You can make it easier for someone with allergies by being aware of some common holiday triggers.

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Often the center of the celebration, the Christmas tree can also be the reason for your sneezing.

"You can get runny nose, congestion," explains Dr. Divekar.

That's because holiday trees can carry allergens like mold and dust.

"You can also have lower respiratory symptoms," adds Dr. Divekar. "And these can manifest in wheezing, cough, chest tightness – especially if you have asthma."

The smoke from a crackling fire can cause similar problems for a person with asthma. Even scented holiday candles can make some people uncomfortable.

"And it does trigger symptoms, although not necessarily allergic in nature," explains Dr. Divekar.

On the other hand, nuts and other ingredients baked into holiday treats can cause a serious reaction for a person with a food allergy.

Dr. Divekar recommends updating prescriptions during the holidays, especially rescue medications.

"Be a little more careful as to what you eat or what you’re exposed to, and that will go a long way in making sure your holidays are full of fun and happiness," says Dr. Divekar.

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