All the holiday risks for children with asthma

THURSDAY, Dec. 21, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Kids are home for the holidays, but the wonders of the weather can cause problems for children with asthma.

The American Lung Association warns that sources of joy such as Christmas trees, burning Yule logs or grandma’s pet dog can all be unexpected triggers of asthma.

The ALA says parents should talk to their child’s doctor about creating an asthma action plan based on their plans for the holidays. Such a plan can alert them to early warning signs and help them manage symptoms during a flare-up.

While making such a plan, they should also keep the following vacation risks in mind.

The scent of the holidays

The ALA warns that popular holiday-scented items such as candles, dry crackers, scented pine cones and cinnamon sticks all pose the same risk to children with asthma as air fresheners do year-round.

Cinnamon sticks in particular produce a powerful asthma-stimulating aroma. Parents should avoid hanging cinnamon buns in their homes, and instead make cinnamon-, vanilla-, or lemon-based goodies to provide a festive scent.

The ALA added that parents who want the ambiance of candlelight should choose either unscented candles or battery-operated flameless candles.

Christmas decorations

A live Christmas tree may be one of the ultimate holiday traditions, but a pine tree can block asthma triggers like mold and pollen, the ALA warns. Even the strong smell of pine can be a trigger.

Parents should shake a live tree before bringing it into the home. If possible, they should spray it with a hose and then let it dry before taking it inside.

Once it is established, parents should be sure to change the water in the tree stand regularly to prevent mold growth.

Once the tree stops drinking and begins to dry out, parents should consider removing the tree.

An artificial tree can also pose an asthma risk, as it can collect dust and mold during storage. Parents should clean the family tree thoroughly before setting it up, and just be aware that opening a dusty or moldy tree can cause flare-ups in their child.

If going for an artificial tree, parents should purchase one that does not have fake snow on the branches, as the materials used for artificial snow can trigger asthma attacks.

More broadly, parents should apply this advice to any holiday decorations, whether live flowers or fake holly. Clean them thoroughly before decorating and, if artificial, store them in plastic or steel boxes after the season — cardboard boxes can be prime real estate for mold.

Vacation trip

Going home for the holidays can mean exposing your child to people wearing cologne or perfume, or living in a house with pets or smokers, the ALA says.

Parents should make sure to pack their child’s inhaler when traveling, take the number of doses the child needs and keep the inhaler in an easily accessible place.

If living in a home, parents of a child with asthma should ask if a pet can live in another part of the house while they live there, and ask their child to keep them away from wood-burning fires. keep away.

The ALA says parents can also ask their child’s doctor if their asthma can be treated early, to reduce the risk of an asthma attack.

They should also be aware of the “Thanksgiving effect,” a phenomenon that occurs when you lose tolerance for your own pet after being away for a few days.

More information

The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology has more. Sixth Asthma Tips.

Source: American Lung Association, news release

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