Allergens are present all year round, but are often prevalent during the festive season as many of the traditional plants, decorations and foods can cause misery for those who suffer and the cause is often overlooked.
'Christmas Tree Syndrome', symptoms include itchy nose, watery eyes, wheezing, coughing, chest pains, lethargy and insomnia and in extreme cases can even lead to pneumonia. Practitioners often see an increase in respiratory problems in the weeks leading up to and shortly after December 25.
Upstate University in New York provided clippings from 28 Christmas trees for microbiological analysis, which yielded a shocking, 53 cases of mould. These moulds occur naturally, but worryingly, tend to flourish in the warmth of people's homes. The moulds in highest quantities are aspergillus, penicillium, cladosporium and alternaria and these are the ones most likely to trigger allergies. Research claims that 35% of people suffer during the season.
Another often overlooked seasonal allergy is the, very festive, poinsettia plant. About 40% of individuals with latex allergy can possibly develop cross-sensitivity with poinsettias, primarily if the sap comes into contact with skin. The symptoms are usually allergic contact dermatitis. It is rare that severe IgE-mediated allergic reactions including anaphylaxis occur, but whilst rare, it is important to note the possibility.
Throughout December we will be running a series of Facebook posts regarding the more common seasonal allergies, so if this is an area of interest, please join us there for more information. You can connect direct to our Facebook page using the link button at the top of the page.