The holidays are supposed to be a time for a fun and enjoyable reunion with family or friends. However, if you or a loved one suffers from allergies, you may worry about staying safe during holiday gatherings. If you think you have Las Vegas allergies or you’ve been officially diagnosed, you’ll want to take some precautions as family gathers to ensure everyone has a safe, fun, and enjoyable time that is memorable in a good way.
Host a Gathering
While everyone likes the thought of getting family together for the holidays, hosting the party can be tiring. If you want to take the burden of wondering “Who is hosting this year?” off your relatives, offer to host a holiday gathering. Hosting has an added benefit for you and your family, as you can decide what food is served and prepared in the kitchen. If you have a food allergy and know that you need to avoid certain food items, you already know that you don’t have those items in your own kitchen, and you can ask visitors to make sure any food they bring doesn’t contain those items.
Avoid Cross-Contaminating Foods
Even if you are allergic to a particular food, other people at the holiday gathering may not want to give up their favorite food, such as shellfish, nuts, or dairy. While you can sometimes ask people not to bring something that you’re allergic to to a party, doing so is sometimes unavoidable. If people are not familiar with the severity and complexity of your food allergy, educate them about the risk of cross-contamination, even if they do not bring the actual substance, such as a seafood platter or peanuts. If a food being served at the party may contain a substance that you are allergic to, or if you’re not sure about a dish’s ingredients, err on the side of caution. Set up a designated area in your house where guests can put foods that may pose a health risk to you or your family members. If there is not enough space available, have a color coding system or use labels to specify which foods contain the allergen. Even if all the food has to stay in the same area, keep all utensils, plates, and serving dishes separate.
Using Christmas Trees
If your family celebrates Christmas, you may be surprised that Las Vegas allergies may be lurking in the main attraction! Christmas trees can sometimes contain hidden allergens.
Pollen and mold spores can hitch a ride on the trunk and branches of your Christmas tree. Live Christmas trees can also contain terpene, a substance in the oil of evergreen tree branches. Terpene can cause allergic reactions in some people.
Using an artificial Christmas tree instead of a live tree can reduce the risk of allergies and make a family gathering more pleasant for allergy sufferers. However, even if you decide to use a real tree instead of an artificial one, you can reduce the chance of an adverse allergic reaction by following these steps:
- Wash the tree trunk with a solution containing 20 parts warm water to one part bleach
- Remove visible pollen from the tree with a leaf blower outside
- Let the tree dry off completely outside before bringing it indoors
The risk of allergens on the tree is lower if you have an artificial tree, but the risk still does exist. To ensure the tree is safe for the allergy sufferers in your family, wipe down the surface of the artificial tree first to remove contaminants and debris.
Do You Smell What I Smell?
Many people associate certain scents with the holidays, including pumpkin, pine, and gingerbread. These scents may get into the air naturally by baking or bringing trees, wreaths, and pumpkins into the house. However, those familiar scents can also make their way into the home through artificial means such as air fresheners and candles. Potpourri, another popular holiday tradition, can also disperse fragrances into the air that you or a guest may be allergic or sensitive to. If you have a wood-burning fireplace in your house, be aware that burning wood can cause problems for people with allergies or asthma.
Animals and Pets
When family members get together for the holidays, pets are generally involved. If you’re going to a place where there are animals that you’re allergic to and you’ll be in the same indoor area, there are some steps you can take before and after you arrive to keep your allergy symptoms at bay. If you will be spending the night or staying in an enclosed area with an allergy-producing animal, adhere to your medication schedule to avoid a flare-up. You can also prepare in advance by taking allergy medication before you arrive at the host’s house. Try to at least keep the animals out of your bedroom when you’re there. If fur or pet dander gets on your clothes, wash them as soon as possible to avoid any additional problems. Although it can be difficult to get away from animal fur and dander if the weather is cold and everyone is inside, you may find it helpful to get outside for some fresh air every once in a while or at least ask about cracking a few windows to circulate air.
Get a Flu Shot and a COVID Booster
Even though seasonal allergies and food allergies are not caused by the flu virus, you may be able to prevent any worse symptoms beyond normal allergies by getting a flu shot. Although allergies are not contagious, the flu virus is, and chances are good you’ll be spreading germs around at holiday gatherings. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the flu vaccine for people who are six months old and up. If you haven’t already received a flu shot for the year, make an appointment with a Las Vegas allergist to do so as soon as possible. It will take several weeks to build immunity to the flu virus, so it’s a good idea to schedule your flu shot far in advance and also don’t forget to get your COVID booster.
Preparing for Allergies
People diagnosed with an allergy may already have a treatment plan from an allergy doctor in Las Vegas. If you’ve already gotten instructions from a doctor about managing your Las Vegas allergies, follow that same prevention and treatment plan when visiting family or having family members at your house. Bring enough allergy medication to last for your trip if you have seasonal allergies. If you have food allergies, bring any medications your allergy doctor has prescribed. That includes epinephrine if you have more serious allergies. If you have severe food allergies, let your family members know. That way, they can help ensure that you have a safe and fun holiday gathering, and they can respond as necessary if you do have an allergic reaction. Don’t hesitate to ask about the ingredients in a dish if you are not sure that it is safe.
If you’re wondering “Where is the best allergist near me?”, schedule an appointment at Tottori Allergy and Asthma today by calling (702) 240 4233 or by making an appointment online.