Could an increase in asthma flare-ups put a damper on your holiday merriment? Many people's seasonal asthma symptoms worsen between Thanksgiving and New Year's and the timing isn't a coincidence. Here are some common questions and answers to help you understand why this time of year can be so difficult. You'll also find tips to improve your asthma management.

Q: Why do the holidays trigger more asthma symptoms?

A: You're probably running around more than ever at this busy time of year, shopping for last-minute gifts, and socializing with family and friends. As your stress level rises, your body releases chemicals that can cause your bronchial tubes and lungs to tighten. This can make it difficult to breathe normally. Slow down and try some deep breathing exercises or engage in another form of relaxation to help counteract the effects of seasonal asthma triggered by holiday-related stress.

Q: Could my Christmas tree trigger asthma?

A: Having a Christmas tree in your home or your workplace can certainly be an asthma trigger. This is because some Christmas trees can produce pollen, while the trunk may contain mold. Either, or both, of these things can lead to an asthma attack. To lessen the problem, shake off the branches and wipe down the trunk before bringing the tree inside. This can help control your exposure to these allergens. If you're considering an artificial tree, remember that these can collect mold and dust. Keep this in check by vacuuming and cleaning it regularly.

Q: Why does my seasonal asthma worsen when I travel to visit relatives in other locations?

A: When you travel anywhere, you put yourself at risk for an increase in asthma symptoms. A change in climate, elevated dust and pollen levels, and exposure to different scented products can all be triggers. Couple this with dust mites, smoke, and pet dander in relatives' homes or hotel rooms, and your respiratory system may suffer. Tell your host in advance about any sensitivity you have and what you need to help breathe better. Bring your own pillow and blanket if necessary to minimize your contact with allergens. Increase your control medications in advance if you expect to face some challenges and always carry your fast-acting relief inhaler in case you need it.

Q: Is it okay to relax my asthma management efforts during the holidays?

A: Now, more than ever, you need to stay on top of your asthma and monitor your symptoms. Make it a priority to follow your asthma management plan, even when you're busy. Be sure to use your peak flow meter so you can respond to any changes by increasing medication and following  any other suggestions from your doctor.


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