With holiday music playing on the radio and a slight chill in the air, it’s easy to see that the holiday season is here. However, for many it’s not just the holiday season, it is also tissue season! Allergens can spoil your holiday celebrations, but there are ways you can stay healthy and happy.

Your Christmas tree could be the very source of your sniffling and sneezing. Artificial trees, decorations and lights can collect a significant amount of dust while in storage from year to year. Unpacking and moving your holiday decorations can stir everything up, further irritating your allergies. When dust is inhaled through the nose, it can result in respiratory issues like bouts of sneezing and distressed breathing. To get ahead on fighting next year’s holiday allergies, make sure to properly store your tree and decorations. Use sealed plastic containers over cardboard boxes- as cardboard can encourage the growth of mold, mildew and other allergens. So, before you deck your halls make sure your ornaments and tree are dust-free!

If you are thinking a real Christmas tree is less likely to provoke allergies, you might want to think again! Live trees can be equally irritating, carrying both pollen and mold into your home. They are known to carry microscopic mold spores that can worsen allergy and asthma symptoms, causing sneezing, itchy or watery eyes, a runny or stuffy nose and shortness of breath. Before bringing a tree into your home, shake off the pollen and rinse it off with a hose to help get rid of existing spores. Make sure to let the tree dry naturally and thoroughly to avoid further mold growth. Doing a little bit of Christmas tree cleanup can make your holiday season much more enjoyable.

We all associate the holidays with a time to enjoy delicious meals and tasty treats with family and loved ones. Common food allergies are triggered by eggs, nuts, milk and shellfish, which can be found in traditional holiday foods such as cookies, drinks, sauces, dressings, pies and casseroles. If you or your children have allergies, it’s important to communicate what you can/cannot eat! Consider seating arrangements so that parents can keep an eye on their children with allergies to avoid a dangerous situation. Labeling unsafe foods and using separate utensils can help prevent cross-contamination. If you experience a tingling or itchy mouth, hives, trouble breathing, diarrhea, or swelling of the lips, tongue, throat or face after eating, you may have a food allergy that should be brought to a doctor’s attention.

Allergies occur when your immune system meets something it does not like, but with worries over COVID-19, many people may struggle to decipher between allergy symptoms and symptoms of the coronavirus. Though some symptoms may seem similar, there are several differences. A runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat, cough and fatigue are similar symptoms caused by allergies and the viral illness. However, itchy, runny, swollen or red eyes are not symptoms of the virus. The virus often begins with a gradual onset of a headache or other aches and pains, a fever, and the loss of sense of taste or smell. These symptoms would be unusual in someone with environmental allergies. COVID-19 is highly contagious, so if you are actively coughing or sneezing, or if you are experiencing any symptoms of the virus, please stay home.

Stay safe and healthy while you enjoy the celebrations that lead us into the New Year. Florida E.N.T. & Allergy wish you and your family Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!

The physicians of Florida E.N.T. & Allergy have served the Tampa Bay community for over 40 years. Their board certified physicians have completed extensive education and clinical training as well as specialized training in their area(s) of expertise. From pediatric allergies to fitting hearing aids, their caring and experienced physicians specialize in ear, nose and throat care for the entire family using comprehensive, cutting edge technologies.

For additional information or to schedule an appointment, please call (813) 879-8045 or visit Florida E.N.T. & Allergy online at www.FloridaENTandAllergy.com.