“When the fireplace was on or I'd be around Christmas trees, I would be like, you know my chest was tight and I would start coughing,” says Marilyn Sarkis of
“Or I would be at the mall shopping and they would be spraying that perfume,” says Sarkis whose condition was so severe, it triggered asthma.
“The most common thing we see is people with mold sensitivities. And, since mold is fairly common, a lot of people have to watch out,” says Dr. Theresa Bingemann, an allergist at
Mold is particularly prevalent during the holidays because spores rest on fireplace wood and in Christmas trees.
“With the live trees there's some mold spores on them so when they come inside, they get to proliferate the mold levels in the house,” says Dr. Bingemann.
In order to cut down on mold spores from Christmas trees, Bingemann advises shaking the tree to release any spores that may rest on the tree’s needles. A live tree should also be stored in a covered area to dry out completely before it is brought inside the home for decorating.
In addition to live trees and fireplace wood, holiday scents, whether it be candles or sprays, can also trigger allergies.
“It's very common that the burning candles or the air fresheners are a problem, the tricky part is that there's no way to test for what scent is a problem, it's just strong odors are irritants,” says Bingemann.
An allergy can also mask itself as a cold. Symptoms include: congestion, runny nose, itchy or watery eyes. Keep in mind, a cold will not only come on quick, it will usually exit the body within a week. An allergy will persist for several weeks.
“Also, less people with colds tend to have the itchy, watery eyes,” says Dr. Bingemann.
Marilyn not only takes medication but has learned to avoid her allergy triggers.
“You just have to modify your lifestyle, you know.”