The end of the year is a contemplative time to celebrate with family and friends. “But this can be a difficult period for people with an allergy or asthma”, says Janna Tuck, spokesperson for the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI). Throughout the festive season, hidden allergy triggers lurk.
Candles and fire: For many people, candles are an essential part of every Christmas celebration, and a crackling fire creates the perfect atmosphere. However, both scented candles and firewood smoke can give allergy sufferers the gift of watery eyes, runny nose or headaches. To minimise smoke from the fireplace, the Swiss cantonal energy and environmental agencies offer the following advice: Use only wood that has completely dried out and has already been brought up to room temperature, not wood that has come directly from outside. Less smoke is created when no paper is used and only the top log is lit. Make sure the fireplace is properly vented.
Christmas tree and wreath: A freshly felled tree from the forest or a seasonal wreath of green fir branches has a wonderful fragrance and looks beautiful. But most Christmas trees are sprayed with toxic chemicals to speed growth and ward off pests. This measure is usually ineffective against fungal spores.
If you insist on having a real tree, you should clean it thoroughly before bringing it into your living room. The same applies to artificial trees. If they have been stowed away in the basement all year, dirt and dust must first be removed. A feather duster alone is not enough. Wipe down the tree with a damp cloth.
Bundled up well for the great outdoors: During the winter, many places offer a lot of opportunities to go outside and have some fun, like having a snowball fight or building a snowman in the garden in front of the window. When it gets really cold, the dry air can trigger an asthma attack in allergy sufferers. Asthmatics should therefore cover their nose and mouth with a scarf or a face mask, particularly if they are exercising outside.
Keeping allergies and asthma at bay is the best gift. ACAAI-Pressemitteilung, 18. November 2019
Seasonal tips: Feuern ohne Rauch (smokeless fires).The Swiss cantonal energy and environmental agencies, Geneva (accessed 13 December 2019) (in German)