The festive season is in full swing, but for those with asthma, there could be unexpected risks involved that may aggravate their condition.
According to a recent study by Asthma UK, December is a hazardous month for asthma sufferers, with 1 in 11 people being at increased risk of life-threatening asthma symptoms in the United Kingdom alone.
That means, on Christmas Day, every 10 seconds someone could potentially be having an asthma attack. However, with a little know-how, you can take precautions and breathe easily during the festivities…
A natural fir tree may look beautiful and evergreen in your living room, but it could potentially be bringing mould spores into your home. When these spores are inhaled they can cause an itching feeling in the nasal cavity, leading to increased sneezing, congestion and nasal discharge. For an asthma sufferer this can make breathing more difficult, compounding the problem. To avoid this, buy an artificial tree instead and make sure to damp dust the branches after bringing it out of storage, especially since it may have been packed away all year.
Decorating the Christmas tree is a favourite pastime for many but old decorations can harbour dust, especially if they've been stored away for 12 months. Dust mites are a common asthma trigger symptoms and may lay dormant on fabric decorations that haven't been used in a long time. To reduce the risk of dust mites provoking asthma symptoms, wash any fabric decorations in hot water before placing them on display. Alternatively, stick to metal, glass or plastic decorations as these are less likely to attract dust.
Certain aromas and fragrances may conjure up winter warming memories but artificial snow, perfumes or fragrance sprays can trigger unpleasant asthma symptoms that last for a long time afterwards. Buying scented goods is best avoided altogether if you or a loved one is particularly sensitive.
A blazing wood fire may seem homely but the smoke from fires or wood burning stoves releases fine particles, along with carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide, that when inhaled can inflame airways, making breathing difficult and triggering asthma symptoms. If you have asthma then it's best to avoid smoky environments altogether where possible.
A lesser known trigger of asthma over the festive season is food allergies. Certain foods such as nuts, yeast products, cow's milk, fish, shellfish and eggs along with food colourings and preservatives may cause your body's immune system to have an allergic reaction. One of these symptoms is a flare up of asthma.
In particular it's best to avoid tartrazine (e102) a food dye, benzoic acid (E210) a food preservative found in soft drinks and fruit products and sodium metabisulphite (E220-227) found in home brewed beers, wine and fizzy drinks amongst other items.
Be prepared and breathe easy…
To avoid any complications with your asthma over the festive season, be prepared. By taking the simple steps above and making sure you have your inhaler or nebulizer within easy reach at all times, you can enjoy a relaxing holiday season, without any aggravating asthma symptoms.