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How to Avoid Illness Over the Holidays: Christmas Edition

How to Avoid Illness Over the Holidays- Christmas Edition

In part two of our “How to Avoid Illnesses over the Holidays” blog series, we will tackle the health risks associated with Christmas. There are obvious dangers associated with the holidays, like overeating too many Christmas cookies, or electrocuting yourself while hanging Christmas lights, but there are also some less obvious, but no less serious, health risks that could be lurking around your home as well. We here at ACE want to help you have a wonderful and safe holiday season, so we have complied a list of a few lesser-known health risks to watch out for, so you and your family don’t become sick over the holidays. These health risks include: Allergic reactions due to mold from your Christmas tree, accidental poisonings from toxic holiday plants and decor, and exposure to germs during holiday shopping excursions.

House DecorationOne of the most exciting and festive activities you might partake in during the holiday season is decorating your home! Whether that means stringing garland from your staircase, hanging stockings from the fireplace, or picking out and decorating a Christmas tree, holiday decorations can transform your home into a winter wonderland. But did you know that some holiday decorations can be harmful to your health? One of these decorations is often the center of attention, the Christmas tree. If you opt to decorate your home with a live Christmas tree during the holidays then you might be exposing your family to an excess amount of mold. If you or any of your family members have felt under the weather right around the holidays with symptoms including: an itchy nose, watery eyes, coughing, shortness of breath, chest pains, sinus congestion, feelings of fatigue or problems sleeping you might have had a respiratory illness nicknamed “Christmas Tree Syndrome” by scientists from Upstate Medical University.[1] It is common for people to contract this and other respiratory illnesses around the holiday season because they are inhaling mold spores that are growing on their Christmas trees. While most mold that is found on trees will only make you feel temporarily ill, some of the mold identified by the team at Upstate Medial University can lead to long term lung conditions like bronchitis and pneumonia. So how can you prevent contracting “Christmas Tree Syndrome”? The most full-proof method is to opt for an artificial tree, or not have a Christmas tree at all. If your holiday tradition demands a live tree, make sure to hose it off and leave it out to dry before bringing it into your home, and dispose of it immediately after Christmas. If you do notice mold in your home after removing your Christmas tree, use a mold remediation product to remove it. Any product that lists mold removal on the label, or one that contains bleach, will kill the spores that have contaminated any surface. Christmas trees aren’t the only holiday decoration to put on the naughty list. There are other decorations that have the possibility of making your family ill as well. One of these includes holly berries. [2] While you might be tempted to decorate wreaths, tables, and desserts with the bright red berries of a holly bush, this plant is actually poisonous to people and pets. Eating as few as 3 berries can cause children and animals to feel drowsy and nauseous, and can cause severe vomiting and diarrhea. [3] Do not decorate with live holly berries even if they are out of reach of children, once the berries dry out they often fall to the ground and can find their way into the mouths of kids and pets. If you believe your child may have ingested holly berries call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222. Holiday Shopping:70% of U.S. adults went to a mall or shopping center during the holidays last year.[4] This means that over 200 million Americans went to shopping malls in November and December of 2016, and there is no evidence that that number will be any different this holiday season. If you are unaware, shopping malls are one of the most germ-filled places you encounter in your daily life, and more people in malls means more germs you could come into contact with. To avoid contracting illness from the germs found in shopping centers, follow these tips[5]:

  1. When using public restrooms, use a paper towel to turn on and off the faucet and avoid using refillable soap dispensers.
  2. Stash disinfecting wipes in your purse or bag to wipe down food court tables before you grab a bite to eat.
  3. Avoid touching stair and escalator handrails.
  4. Wipe down any toys that aren’t in sealed packages with disinfected wipes, and wash your hands after leaving toy stores.
  5. Apply an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to your child’s hands before and after having his/her picture taken with the shopping mall Santa Claus.

    [1]  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/topics/christmas/8963438/Feeling-under-the-weather-Youve-got-Christmas-Tree-Syndrome.html [2] https://www.poison.org/articles/2014-dec/holly-berries [3] http://www.chop.edu/centers-programs/poison-control-center/poisonous-berries [4] http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-mall-holiday-shopping-survey-0104-biz-20170103-story.html [5] http://www.cnn.com/2011/11/25/health/germiest-places-mall/index.html

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