Allergens are high during the holiday season - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Allergens are high during the holiday season

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - Joy, hope, holiday cheer: the Christmas season brings a lot of things with it. But for some unlucky ones, it brings sneezes, itchy eyes, and a watery nose. We're talking about allergens. Most go dormant in the winter but bringing the outdoors in can make them sprout back to life.

"When you think of seasonal allergies, the first thing that comes to mind is the spring, summer or fall," Jeff Jackson of Marshfield Clinic says.

The holiday season is in full swing and, in a twist, so is the allergy season.

"There is a group of people who's allergies are more reactive, more intense, in the winter months. There are a variety of triggers that we get exposed to around Christmas time," Jackson says.

Aunt Annie's apple pie and grandma's famous eggnog can be to blame. As can dusty decorations. Even Fido the family friend can be at fault.

"A real challenge has to do with potential food allergies. Around the holiday season, we're digging out the dusty ornaments and the artificial tree and things that have been tucked away that would bring with them, dust. It's during the winter that the doors and windows are closed. So we are more shut-in. We don't have as much air flow," Jackson says.

The biggest trigger: live trees and poinsettias.

"If it's mold associated with live Christmas trees or live greenery, or poinsettias, then you want to not be in contact with those live things. One of the options would be to buy an artificial tree or, I imagine, they make artificial poinsettias as well," Jackson says.

But don't toss the tree just yet. The decorating pro's say, once dusted, there are plenty of low-allergen decorations, like bulbs in a glass bowl.

"Lots of artificial glittery embellishments, we also use a lot of ribbon, a lot of thick, wide ribbon, a lot of fabric," Molly Meyer of Brent Douglas Flowers says.  

Another tip, if you or someone in your family has a severe food allergy, it is best to let relatives know before heading to their house for the holidays. That way, close-calls can be avoided.

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