Pass the tissues and antihistamine please -- 'tis the season for holiday allergies. Like unwanted gifts, sneezing and congestion arrive, making allergy sufferers miserable and putting a damper on holiday fun.
Fortunately you don't have to be sidelined from the festivities. Whether it's symptoms to food, pets, mold or mildew, allergies during the holidays can be beat -- with lifestyle changes, medication, and a few simple tips.
Contact the airlines ahead of time. Tell them about your child's health issue when you book your flight, and ask about its policies.
For instance, if your child is allergic to peanuts, find out if they’ll be served during the flight. If so, ask whether there are zones on the plane for people who don't eat peanuts. Or, if your child is allergic to animal dander, will there be pets flying with passengers?
Book an early flight. Allergen levels tend to be lowest in the morning, because most airlines clean their planes at the end of the business day. Aim for the first flight you can make.
Pack your own food. That's the best way for you to know exactly what's in it and how it was prepared. For example, even if an airline doesn't serve peanuts, the meals they serve may be prepared in kitchens along with peanut products.
Contact your hotel. If your child has food allergies, book a hotel that offers rooms with kitchens. That way you won't have to eat all of your meals in restaurants.
Talk to your hosts. Planning to stay with friends or relatives? Tell them about your child's allergies ahead of time. They’ll know not to offer foods with her triggers. If your child is allergic to cats or dogs, don’t stay with people who have pets.
Scope out menus. If food allergies are the issue, check menus online or ask the hotel staff to suggest a place. Then you can call and ask questions, or tell the staff about your needs. With advance notice, many chefs will prepare dishes that address allergy issues.
Check the map. You probably won't need it, but it may make you feel better to have the name and address of the nearest hospital.
See the doctor. Take your child to the allergist within a month of your trip. Make sure her health is good and her medication is up to date. Ask for a note to explain your child’s epinephrine auto-injector. It isn’t required, but it might cut down on questions and delays at airport security.
Get the latest security info. Check the Transportation Security Administration's web site before your trip. Requirements for carry-on bags and check-in policies change often.