Beware of "holiday allergies"

PHILADELPHIA - December 13, 2009

But for some, the holidays can be the most miserable time of year because of allergies.

Rochelle Doctor looks forward to the holidays, but she dreads her holiday-time allergies.

"I've really worked at eliminating triggers, because once you've been exposed to a trigger, all you can do is take medication to try to control it," she said.

She starts with keeping her decorations as dust-free as possible from season to season.

"Just take a little brush and just brush it off lightly, and put it in a plastic bag or Ziploc bag and then store it away."

Her doctor, Dr. Clifford Bassett, takes the decoration advice one step further.

"I usually recommend to individuals who believe they have allergies to try something that's plastic, metal, or glass that's easy to clean," said Dr. Bassett.

He said if it always seems you have a cold at this time of year, it might be allergies.

"Many sufferers complain of a variety of nasal and sinus symptoms during the holidays, and they don't realize that they have allergies, and they have holiday allergies that are making them worse," said Dr. Bassett.

Some of the triggers include molds blooming on fresh trees, dust lurking on artificial ones, and strong scents.

"The smallest amount of airway irritant such as smoke, fragrance, potpourri, incense, and particularly candles, could really wreak havoc during the holidays," Dr. Bassett said.

If you sniffle and sneeze at this time of year, make a list of possible triggers, and have an allergist check them out.

Don't forget food allergies. Dr. Bassett says party foods might contain small amounts of nuts, seafood or dairy products.

So, check out restaurants ahead of time, alert your host to your allergies, and if you suspect a problem, get it checked out.

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