During the holidays, and for many days after, food allergy sufferers must be extremely cautious. Nuts, milk, chocolate and many unexpected allergens may be present in packaged or homemade foods that are made available at parties and in the homes of neighbors, family and friends.
When visiting, bring food and snacks that are safe for those with food allergies, and be very cautious with the children. Inform the people you are visiting if your child has life threatening food allergies, and be certain the children they play with also know that they must not share their special foods without parental inspection and permission.
Have the appropriate medicines on hand at all times, including asthma reliever inhalers, antihistamines and injectable Epinephrine.
People who have significant mold allergies need to be aware of many potential problems during the winter. Here are a few to keep in mind:
Molds love the shade of the evergreen. Wash the tree before bringing it inside.
Use 1 part liquid laundry bleach to 20 parts water. Let it dry outside.
Check for yellow pollen; blow any pollen off with a leaf blower.
Watch out for dry mold dust, like the kind in old books. Wear a mask. When packing up for next year, make sure they are all dry, store in plastic bags, seal the bags and put the whole batch in plastic boxes. Next year will be much better.
Be careful when raking leaves, mowing the grass and during any gardening activities. Molds grow on the plants, dirt, walls, and even on the ceiling in green houses. Wear a mask and gloves, or get someone without allergies to do it.
Keep natural logs outside until you need them, and handle them carefully.
Have a licensed, professional chimney sweep inspect your fireplace and chimney every year. In many crowded European cities this is required by civil codes. Fireplaces cause many fires and can pollute you home, or even destroy it. Be sure to open the flue when starting a fire!
Change the filter, and ask the utility company for a free inspection annually.
Monitor all the windows for moisture and condensation. Those that tend to develop a steamy appearance, especially when someone is cooking or showering need to be treated regularly with a solution of bleach (like the Christmas tree), or with a commercial mold remover. Also watch for that gray/brown/black dust that signals dry mold dust.
Use of a humidifier will often cause moisture to condense on walls and windows, and increase mold growth. This is especially true of the type used for cough and croup. They can cause a lot of problems, and may increase the likelihood of young children developing mold allergy early in life. Proper maintenance, monitoring and cleaning must be performed if humidifiers are used. Mold also can grow in the humidifier itself.
FOR ASTHMATICS AND THOSE WITH VASOMOTOR RHINITIS
Use good sense, and limit the strong scents. Many strong or harsh odors can trigger nasal and pulmonary airway reactivity. Limit their exposure to scented candles, carpet and air fresheners, potpourri and strong cooking odors.
FOR EVERYONE WITH ASTHMA AND RECURRENT SINUSITIS
Get your flu shot before the flu season hits your area.
John Hollingsworth, PA-C, RRT
Allergy Associates medical Group, Inc.