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Holiday Asthma Triggers for Kids

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WebMD Feature

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.

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