Monday, December 28, 2009

Coping with Allergies During the Holidays

For asthma and allergy patients, the holidays present a variety of challenges to maintaining good health. Enjoying the holidays is easier when you plan ahead so you can look back on this special time with joy. These tips are from the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America.

  • Clean your chimney before the first holiday fire
  • Check fireplace vents and secure fireplace doors to reduce smoke entering the room
  • Use doors instead of screens
  • Decorations stored since last year can become coated with dust and mold
  • Thoroughly clean and dry all decor, seal in plastic bags, and store in airtight containers
  • If you are sensitive to dust or mold, wear a face mask while unpacking and decorating
  • Clean and replace filters in your furnace before turning on the heat
  • Use a filter over vents to catch dust particles
  • Clean or replace filters in any portable air cleaners
  • Run units at the highest setting during winter months
  • Check humidity levels in rooms where you spend most of your time
  • Keep humidity below 50%, as long as you are comfortable and allergy symptoms are minimal
  • Limit use of air fresheners such as candles, oils and potpourri
If you bring a live tree into your home, use the following guidelines to help reduce problems:
  • Thoroughly wipe the trunk with a solution of lukewarm water and diluted bleach (1 part bleach/ 20 parts water) to kill mold.
  • Use a leaf blower (away from the house or garage) to remove pollen grains.
  • Artificial trees are great substitutes as long as they are not coated with sprayed-on "snow."

Outdoor allergens can also be potential triggers for asthma and allergies. Here are some suggestions for preparing your home and family for the holidays:
  • Remove wet dirt and leaves from the foundation and gutters to prevent mold growth near windows and doors
  • Stack firewood outside, bringing in new logs only for immediate use in your fireplace.
  • Wear protective clothing when exposure to mold is likely (gloves, long sleeves, pants, face mask, etc.)
  • While outdoors, wear a scarf over your face to warm winter winds that enter your lungs. If this is inadequate, consider a warming mask - available at most medical supply stores

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