How to Navigate the Holiday Season with Allergy and Asthma

Finding the balance between gratitude and safety can present its challenges, but it creates an inclusive environment.

The most wonderful time of the year consists of gathering of friends, office parties, school potlucks, hosting guests and traveling, but it can be overwhelming and stressful when diagnosed with allergies and asthma. To avoid anxiety build ups, we at FCAAC, with the help of our Board Certified Physicians and highly qualified staff, would like for everyone to celebrate the holidays and substitute fear with fun.If you or any of your children live with food allergies, by now you know that ingestion and contact, also called cross contamination, must be avoided at all times. There’s no need to fear of appearing judgmental, no need to be apologetic, keep your talk educational, short and explain the restrictions. Create a list of your allergies, a list f your medications and where they are in case they are needed. Present the condition with the solution so that the person in front of you feels informed and ready to cooperate.

As far as food allergies are concerned, caution and preventative steps can make celebrations memorable and pleasant.

Take a mental note that the following rules apply to whether you are a guest or a host:

How do you speak to friends about your food allergies?

Avoidance is your best friend. You will educate your guests about contact, ingestion and cross contamination, no need to fear of appearing judgmental, no need to be apologetic, keep your talk short and educational. Keep handy the list of allergies, emergency contacts, medications and where they are located in case of need. Present the condition with the solution so that the person in front of you feels informed not intimidated.

Whether you are a guest or a host, the following suggestions will help keep the celebrations memorable:

  • Have your epinephrine prescription, asthma medications and anti-histamines handy and up to date;
  • Communicate with the host or guest ahead of time;
  • Avoidance is your number one priority, especially when you are visiting;
  • Consult in advance about menu, ingredients, list of contents. Remember empathy is key and who doesn’t have allergies, may not know;
  • Collaborate by providing alternative recipes that do not contain allergens and eventually bringing cooked libations;
  • Eat prior to the event, to prevent any risk of arriving hungry and fall into the trap of inadvertently munch from the wrong tray;
  • Children are fast, make sure that allergens are out of sight or reach and, when possible, substituted with appropriate equivalents that are safe for everyone;
  • Say “no” politely if you suspect the environment will not be safe.

The triggers that should be avoided

  • Scented candles, fragranced sprays, oils and incenses, potpourri may not be appropriate with asthmatic patients. If you want your home to smell naturally, avoid synthetic products.
  • Coniferous trees and garlands – if you live in Florida and visit a colder state, you may be allergic and not know about it as they are not common trees in the South. Also, consider that they are cut and stored be- fore being shipped and mold spores find comfort in hiding within the branches and cause various allergic reactions. A trick that not many know of is to wipe the trunk with a diluted bleach solution (www.aafa.org)
  • Stored decorations – may contain mold and dust. Best practice is to clean them outside, wear a mask or have someone who isn’t allergic do it.
  • Make sure that the filters of the heating vents are changed – dust particles can accentuate discomfort with breathing;
  • Smoke from the fireplace;
  • Be aware of sudden change in temperature. When traveling out of state, discuss with the allergist and prepare accordingly.

Wishing you happy holidays, we are grateful that you have accompanied us this year.


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