Holiday Asthma Triggers for Kids
If your child’s rendition of “dashing through the snow” sounds more like,
“wheezing through the snow,” you know the holidays are here. It’s that time of
year again, when parents drag dusty decorations out of the basement, plop live
trees laden with last summer’s mold and pollen in the middle of the living
room-, and surprise their kids with a new kitten or puppy on Christmas morning.
All in all, the holidays are a cornucopia of asthma triggers for children.
"Each individual's asthma triggers differ," says Kristy Miller, a
spokesperson for the Environment Protection Agency. "However, from an
indoor environmental perspective, the primary asthma triggers include
secondhand smoke, pet dander, mold, dust mites, and pest
droppings. During the winter months, many people spend more time
indoors, so steps should be taken to reduce or eliminate exposures to these
environmental asthma triggers."
How can you help your children ring in the holidays on an asthma-free
note? WebMD turned to the experts for advice on how to avoid the most common
holiday asthma triggers for kids, so the whole family can enjoy a winter
wonderland of festivities --with not a symptom in sight.
Asthma Triggers: Be Wary of Holiday Bugs
No, not the kind with wings, but respiratory infections, which run rampant
during the cold winter months – particularly during the holidays, when
families travel over the river and through the snow, with millions of other
sneezing and coughing merry-makers.
“Asthma flair-ups are frequently due to infections,” says Richard Honsinger,
MD, of the Los Alamos Medical Care Clinic. “And during the holidays, we see an
increased number of respiratory infections with all the traveling and with
people sharing their bugs that cause asthma symptoms to worsen.”
How can respiratory infections be avoided in your kids? Your first option is
to stay home during the holidays, and your second is to make sure your kids
wash their hands--a lot. Proper hand washing--a good scrubbing with warm water
and soap for at least 15 seconds--can reduce the number of germs your kids pick
up over the course of the day, which in turn helps lowers the risk of catching
a cold and triggering asthma.
Asthma Triggers: The Culprits are Fido and Fluffy -
Giving your child a puppy or kitten for Christmas sounds like an enchanting
idea, but don’t forget that that adorable little bundle is covered in dander--a
common asthma trigger.
“Parents get their kids a new dog for Christmas, when they don’t know if the
kids are allergic or not,” says Honsinger, who is a professor of clinical
medicine at the University of New Mexico. “It’s a time of year when its cold,
so pets are indoors more often than not, so their dander is inside as well and
we see an influx of pet allergies and asthma symptoms.”
If your child has asthma, eczema or other allergies, it’s probably a good
idea to have him or her skin-tested for animal allergies--before you
start picking out puppy names.