Many delight in dusting off decorations and filling their home with the sights and smells of Christmas, but for the two million Australians with asthma, the season can trigger more pain than pleasure.
The National Asthma Council Australia is urging Australians with asthma to approach the festive season with caution, warning that Christmas trees, scented candles and even the emotion highs and stress of the season can trigger asthma symptoms.
'Most people don't know that Cypress and pine trees produce high amounts of pollen, which can trigger asthma and hay fever symptoms. And, like many indoor plants, real Christmas trees can harbour mould," National Asthma Council Australia Chief Executive Officer Kristine Whorlow said.
'Artificial trees also carry risk and are not necessarily a safe alternative, as while being stored away they can collect a significant amount of dust and mould, both of which are common asthma triggers."
To minimise the Christmas wheeze, the National Asthma Council Australia recommends wiping down all decorations and artificial trees as they come out of storage, and unpacking them outside if possible.
Other potential triggers include highly scented candles, festive air fresheners and emotional ups and downs, including laughter and stress.
'If you have asthma, it's important to be aware of your asthma triggers and manage them if possible," Ms Whorlow said.
'You should also continue to follow the personal written asthma action plan that you have developed with your doctor. Make sure you have your medication with you and take it as advised by your doctor, even if you are out celebrating or away on holidays."
The asthma action plan can also be stored on your smartphone and easily accessed via the Asthma Buddy iPhone and Android app. Visit www.nationalasthma.org.au for more information.
Top 12 Asthma Tips for the 12 Days of Christmas from the National Asthma Council:
1. Don't let Christmas greens make you blue – stay clear of real Christmas trees if you are allergic to Cyprus or pine pollens, or are
2. Beware of dust and mould from stored decorations and artificial trees – unpack and clean them outside before displaying them inside
3. Plan ahead for outdoor parties – remember pollen season isn't over yet, and cigarette smoke, changeable weather and bushfire haze are all asthma triggers
4. Get your lungs in tune for carol season – see your doctor for an asthma check-up and make sure your asthma management is as good as it can be
5. Remember to take your preventer every day if prescribed – don't let good habits drop out of your routine in the Christmas chaos
6. Take care of your mental health – talk to our doctor, if you need to, about how to best manage the season's stress, anxiety and high emotions, which can all trigger asthma symptoms
7. Avoid scented candles and oils – keep these popular gifts away from sensitive noses, as they can make it harder for people with asthma or allergies to breathe
8. Give a practical present to someone with asthma or allergies – offer to do their vacuuming or mow their lawn (if you aren't sensitive yourself)
9. Consider gifts that may be better choices for people with asthma or allergies – look for the Sensitive Choice blue butterfly on a range of approved products and services
10. Prepare your home for sensitive guests – put your pet outside or in another room, don't use room fragrances, and dust and vacuum before guests are due
11. Check if any guests have food allergies or intolerances – keep the nuts in the pantry until you're sure
12. Enjoy your Christmas pudding – unless you have a confirmed dairy allergy, don't be scared of cream or brandy custard; dairy products rarely trigger asthma symptoms