Wednesday, 11 December 2019 17:48

Christmas Tree Syndrome? How your tree can make you sick

Written by Dr. Daliah Wachs
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Among the various health issues that plague us during the festive holiday season; flu, colds, heart disease, hypothermia, pneumonia ...we add one more to the list ...Christmas Tree Syndrome.

Christmas Tree Syndrome occurs when one feels ill when they are in close proximity to their Christmas Tree.   True the average Christmas tree is a spruce or fir, which rarely should be allergenic, but researchers have found they still carry allergens such as pollen, picked up by nearby plants, and may house mold.

Researchers from State University in New York analyzed the bark and needles of multiple Christmas trees and found multiple cases of mold with their allergy producing spores. And since they are trees from the wild, they provide residence to thousands of critters…aphids, mites, bark beetles and even spiders.

Now we have been living with Christmas trees each season and harmoniously and symbiotically have lived with their crittery inhabitants without being attacked, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t free from symptoms.

Christmas Tree Syndrome includes any of the following symptoms:

  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Chest Pain
  • Fatigue
  • Rash
  • Watery Eyes
  • Nasal Itching
  • Scratchy Throat
  • Difficulty Sleeping

Mold and pollen are notorious for being the biggest culprits in causing these types of respiratory symptoms, so the following has been suggested to reduce your risk of Christmas Tree Syndrome:

  • Hose down the tree and let it dry before bringing it back into the house
  • Utilize an air purifier in the same room as the tree
  • Avoid extended stays of the tree, i.e. put it up nearer to the holiday and take it down once Christmas ends
  • If currently suffering from allergies or asthma, or vulnerable to Christmas Tree Syndrome, delegate tree decorating to someone else in the family…maybe an in-law.
  • Consider having your gorgeous Christmas tree outside the house.

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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news, her views and opinions, medical or otherwise, are her own. Doctor Wachs is an MD,  FAAFP and a Board Certified Family Physician.  The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.