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    Allergies During the Holidays

    Are holiday allergies keeping you on the sidelines? Take control of your symptoms with these quick tips.

    Hints to Help Control Holiday Allergies

    Avoiding Mold and Mildew

    Christmas trees and wreaths. While many people think it's the tree or other seasonal greens causing their holiday allergies, it's actually the mold spores on these plants. If mold is your nemesis, you may want to steer clear of fresh trees, boughs, and wreaths, says Chiu, and consider switching to artificial decorations. Or, to make live greenery less inclined to trigger allergies during the holidays, try hosing plants down before bringing them inside, to get rid of existing spores.

    Artificial holiday decorations. While fake greenery can indeed help reduce allergy symptoms, "it can also get damp and grow mold, as well as accumulate dust," Chiu tells WebMD. To help keep holiday allergies to these under control, Chiu recommends storing artificial Christmas trees, ornaments, and other decorations in dry containers.

    Handling Food Allergies

    First, know yourself. Before you can manage holiday allergies to food, you must "know what foods you're sensitive to," says allergist Steven H. Cohen, MD, associate clinical professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin. That may be milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts (walnuts, cashews, etc.), fish, shellfish, soy, or wheat -- eight foods that account for 90% of all food allergy reactions.

    Then communicate. Once you know what you're allergic to, you need to talk about it -- especially during this season of celebration. That's because the first and best treatment for holiday food allergies is to avoid what you're allergic to, Cohen says, so communication is key. At seasonal gatherings with friends and family, tell them about your food allergies, ask about ingredients in meals and desserts, and solicit their help so you can avoid the foods you're allergic to.

    Dodging Pet Dander

    At home. You don't want to banish Fifi out in the cold during the holidays, so tame pet allergies by wash your hands and face frequently, keeping floors swept, and carpets vacuumed. While you can bathe pets to reduce dander, that's effective for only a few days. Keeping yourself scrubbed is a lot easier, more beneficial -- and keeps the peace with your pets!

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