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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 continued...

    On the road. The protein in pet dander that causes allergic reactions is so light it can be carried in the air or on clothes and hair -- which explains why you'll find dander in unlikely places like schools, workplaces, and pet-free homes. The best way to prepare yourself for pet allergies when away is to take allergy medications before visiting homes that have pets.

    Dealing With Dust Mites

    At home. Dust mites are well-known allergy and asthma triggers. When you're at home, keep symptoms in check by changing air filters frequently, washing bedding in hot water at least twice a month, and buying allergen-resistant covers for pillows and mattress. And because dust mites thrive in high humidity, think about using a humidifier/dehumidifier to keep indoor humidity between 30% and 50%.

    On the road. When traveling, it's a good idea to take along your own pillow with an allergen-proof cover, or to request a down-free pillow if staying in a hotel or with friends, suggests the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

    Moderating With Medication

    No matter how careful you are, you can still be exposed to holiday allergens and irritants. That's why it's important to carry your allergy medications with you, whether it's an antihistamine, inhaler, or EpiPen, says Chiu. And even when you don't have symptoms "remember to continue taking any medications your doctor has prescribed."

    Steer Clear of Stress

    It's well-known that stress can cause asthma to flare, but it may not do your allergies any good either, writes Kenneth Bock, MD, in Psychology Today. Bock maintains that one of the best ways to bolster your immune system -- so that it can more easily fend off allergy symptoms -- is to recognize the effects stress, anxiety, and other high emotions can have on your immunity, and then to steer clear. His suggestions? A little yoga, meditation, or message therapy. Think of these as holiday gifts to yourself, ones that give all year.

    When to See a Doctor for Your Holiday Allergies

    Controlling holiday allergies is much harder if you're still asking: Was it the walnut tarts at your uncle's party that gave you an allergic reaction? Or his sociable little poodle? Maybe it was the turkey gravy?

    If you're not really sure what's triggering holiday allergies, it's probably time to see an allergist, a physician specially trained to diagnose and treat allergies.

    Not only can an allergist help you discover what's causing your symptoms, they'll also help you manage, even prevent them -- in the summer, during the holidays, any time allergies strike.

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    Reviewed on December 12, 2008

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