The holidays are a time of cheer for most, but asthma triggers can lurk in the festive atmosphere. Be aware of where asthma triggers can hide and how you can reduce your chances of an asthma flare. Always keep your emergency medicines with you at all times.
1. Dramatic Changes in Temperature
Cold air is a trigger for airway narrowing (bronchoconstriction). But winter can also expose you to dramatic changes in temperature. This can happen when you go from a very warm environment to a very cold one.
When heading out in the cold, wrap a scarf loosely over your nose and mouth. When you breathe through a scarf, it warms up the air. This helps prevents the cold air from irritating your airways and triggering an asthma attack.
2. Fireplaces and Smoke
Smoke from burning wood contains small airborne particles that contributes to indoor air pollution. Small particles in the air can pass through your nose or mouth and get into your lungs. The particles can make asthma worse. People with asthma are at greater risk of having an asthma attack from breathing in small particles.
If you want to light a fire in the fireplace, it's best to use a gas fireplace. Avoid wood fires when possible. Use a gas fireplace with doors rather than a screen and make sure vents are working properly.
3. Scents of the Season
Along with the sights and sounds of the season come the scents of the holidays. Many people and shops try to capture the aroma of the holiday by lighting candles, diffusing oils or hanging scented decorations. In crowded places, perfumes and colognes might be an issue.
Stay on the outside of the crowd at big parties or consider hosting a smaller celebration at your own home. To make your home smell great naturally, bake items that contain vanilla, cinnamon or citrus. Natural scents tend to irritate the lungs less than synthetic ones.
4. Live Christmas Trees
Hose down your live tree to knock off mold, pollen and dirt. Let it dry for a few days in a garage, or outside if it’s warm enough, before you bring it inside.
5. Dusty Decorations
Artificial trees and decorations stored in a garage or basement can have mold and dust on them. Be sure to wipe down the decorations and wash the tree stand.
Cardboard boxes and open bags allow dust to accumulate. Switch to storage containers that keep out dust mites. If you have room, store your decorations and artificial tree in a temperature-controlled part of your home to cut down on moisture.
6. Beware of Furry Friends
During the winter, pets tend to stay inside more. This can means more fur and dander present in indoor spaces.
If a pet allergy triggers your asthma and you are visiting someone's home where pets are present, talk with your doctor about pre-treatment before you arrive.
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Updated December 2018