Tempe, Arizona (PRWEB) December 11, 2013
While fall pollen allergies usually die down in winter, holiday traditions can introduce new challenges for allergy sufferers. The Christmas tree, for example, can be a prime source of misery. If someone is debating whether a real or artificial tree will be easier on allergies, here are some pros and cons.
Trees fresh from the forest or farm may come home with allergy-causing molds that are prevalent in conifers. Real trees may also be coated with pollens that can induce allergies. Additionally, some people are allergic to terpene-an organic compound found in the oil or sap of trees. And don't forget that trees aren't the only culprit. The challenges can extend to wreaths and garlands, too.
Many vendors will shake new trees with a mechanical shaker or hose the tree down before it is taken off the lot. This can reduce pollen allergies, dusts and molds. If these options are not available, try hosing the tree down at home and allow it to air dry in the garage or on a covered porch. Trees can also be sprayed with a fruit and veggie wash which may remove more pollens than water alone (and reduce pesticide residue). Another option is to take the tree outside and use a leaf blower to get rid of some of the pollen. And make sure to wear gloves when handling the tree to avoid contact with irritants in the sap.
Though free of pollens and terpene, artificial trees aren't allergy-proof. They can come down from the attic covered in dust and mold that can trigger allergy symptoms.
It's a good idea to hose down an artificial tree outside before bringing it indoors. And store it in an airtight container or bag after the holidays to keep allergens away.
If a tree is causing lung irritation, customers can try a PVC-free tree. Most artificial trees are made of PVC which can emit toxins that stir up respiratory problems. Some new trees, though, are made of a molded polyethylene (PE) instead, which is easier on the lungs.
If allergies are still on edge, the public may consider limiting the amount of time that a tree is left up, displaying it outside where it can be viewed it through a window, or trying an "eco-friendly" tree made of recycled cardboard or sustainable wood.
And while a few Christmas tree modifications may be easily made, if allergies are consistently causing someone to rearrange their lifestyle, they may consider allergy sublingual immunotherapy - the only treatment shown to alter the underlying disease (not just its symptoms).
Immunotherapy can be achieved through allergy shots or, more conveniently and safely, through under-the-tongue (sublingual) allergy drops that can be taken at home. Immunotherapy starts with an allergy serum that contains extracts of common allergens. As the body is exposed to those allergens in the serum, it learns to "make peace" with them and stop overreacting to them in ways that lead to allergy symptoms.
Dr. Stuart Agren is the director of AllergyEasy, a nationwide network of allergy clinics specializing in sublingual allergy drops. He said that most doctors consider two criteria before recommending allergy immunotherapy: duration and severity of allergy symptoms.
"I tell patients that if they experience allergy symptoms for four or more months of the year or if their allergies are severe enough at any point of the year that they are significantly affecting their quality of life, they may be a candidate for immunotherapy," said Dr. Agren.
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