Happy Flare-Free Holidays

You know as well as I do that there’s no way to guarantee a triggerless Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s, or any other winter holiday.

But!

Like every other occasion, event, place, time, day, random weather pattern, and otherwise innocuous element of everyday life – when it comes to asthma, this season is full–full–of potential triggers that can reduce your holiday to the flare/treatment/flare cycle. And if you know about them, you can try to reduce and avoid them. At the very least, if you’re traveling to someone else’s home where you have less control over the indoor environment, you can pre-treat.

In my experience, ensuring adequate sleep is the number-one thing I can do to my kid healthy. Of course, even that’s not always possible, what with the holiday concert next week at school, the family coming in from out of town, the winter break events, and the final practices and games for her volleyball team. Still, I persist.

Check out some other coping strategies for the holidays:

Fireplaces

Oh, I know and love the appeal of a woodburning fireplace myself, especially in contrast to those natural gas “fireplaces” that, let’s face it, are about two steps away from the Yule Log feature on your television each Christmas season. Unfortunately, wood fires hurt lung health and air pollution while the natural gas ones don’t, so much so that the newer houses in the valley I live in don’t even have traditional fireplaces.

Mine does, though, and I do use it occasionally. If you do, too, here are some ways to mitigate your fire’s affect on indoor air quality. You could also try burning some of these wood alternatives, but they don’t come cheap.

Airborne Potpourri

Christmas tree-scented room spray or plug-in air fresheners that smell like gingerbread carry similar breathing challenges. They’re festive, yeah, but they release all kinds of irritants into your breathing space. Our culture has a strange obsession with products that actually dirty the air in order to make it smell good. Candles carry asthma flare risks, too. More natural air freshener methods exist, but remember that anything airborne, nature-based or not, can trigger a sensitive person.

Food Allergies

I’m lucky enough not to deal with these, but I know lots of you and/or your children do. This time of year, allergy sites carry lists of allergen-free candies and other treats for the season.

Traveling

You’ve held your mail at the post office; your kids have packed up books and iPods for the car or plane; you check and double-check suitcases and backpacks full of clothing; and then you spend your entire family visit trying to get a handle on your kid’s breathing. Airplane travel can trigger asthma, and so can motel bedding and the climate/geography change that comes with going out of town.

So go prepared, and stick with the Asthma Mom blog for tips, links, and coping strategies to get you through the season.

14 responses to “Happy Flare-Free Holidays”

  1. kerri says:

    “Our culture has a strange obsession with products that actually dirty the air in order to make it smell good.”
    Sheesh, I have about a zillion and a half stories about THAT. I love your phrasing of it!

    I find that often, I have issues with even my natural-gas fireplace–it just emits a weird smell that my lungs don’t seem to enjoy. Fortunately, it’s in the basement, and is not run often.

    Here’s hoping for a flare-free holiday season for your girl! :)

  2. Amy says:

    Like Febreeze? The concept behind that stuff is bizarre—here, have some spray that will make your dirty couches and carpets smell like you cleaned them!

  3. Her Grace says:

    I’ll add Christmas trees! I couldn’t figure out why I flared so bad in December, until it finally occurred to me it was the tree. I’m not sure whether it was the mold, pollen, or the pine itself, but once we switched to an artificial tree, I quit having attacks at Christmas. Dusty Christmas decorations can set me off sniffling, too.

  4. Amy says:

    You’re totally right, of course, and would you believe I’ve written several articles about Christmas trees that I forgot to include? Here’s one:

    http://www.theasthmamom.com/2008/12/11/the-intersection-of-christmas-trees-sustainability-and-asthma/

    Unpacking dusty boxes and ornaments can trigger AG, but we’re lucky that trees don’t bother her.

  5. Lucinda Hanan says:

    Hi there, i read your blog from time to time and i own a similar one and i was just wondering if you get a lot of spam responses? If so how do you reduce it, any plugin or anything you can recommend? I get so much lately it’s driving me mad so any support is very much appreciated.

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