Holiday Season Can Make Life Miserable For Allergy Sufferers

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — ‘Tis the season for allergies.

The holidays are chock full of things that can make life miserable for allergy sufferers. But what would the holidays be without trees, winter decorations or the sweet treats of the season?

The Ferraro family, of Mars, manages to celebrate without cookies, because 11-year-old Matthew is allergic.

“I gave him a thumbprint cookie, he promptly blew up,” said Tammie Ferraro, Matthew’s mom. “His face swelled up; his ears swelled up; he coughed; he couldn’t breathe.”

If they go to a Christmas party, they usually bring their own treats.

“It makes me feel a little bit safer because I know it’s from our house, and I know I’m not allergic to it,” said Matthew.

Food is just one allergy trigger this time of year, especially foods containing milk, eggs or nuts.

Other triggers? The Christmas tree – dust and mold on artificial trees, and mold and pollen on live trees.

“It might be microscopic, you might not be able to see it,” said Dr. Deborah Gentile, an allergy specialist at Allegheny General Hospital. “They’ll actually hose them down and let them dry before they bring them in.”

Also, decorations – like spray-can snow and scented candles – can be tough on people who are sensitive.

Even the beautiful poinsettia can cause problems if you have another allergy that’s becoming more common.

“Poinsettias are from the rubber tree family, and that white milk in them contains a rubber-like substance,” said Dr. Gentile. “Don’t touch a poinsettia. If you know you’re latex allergic, don’t get one for your house.”

It’s cold and flu season, too, which won’t trigger allergies, per se, but for someone who has allergies and asthma, these respiratory infections can stir up inflammation in the lungs. So get your flu shot, stay on your controller medicines and wash your hands.

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