Are you falling victim to Christmas Tree Syndrome?

Published: Dec. 5, 2019 at 8:09 AM CST
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The National Christmas Tree Association says more people are buying real trees instead of artificial, however, some people don't know that they could be falling victim to "Christmas Tree Syndrome."

It may sound silly, but it's a real concern, and WEAU Health Correspondent Dr. Alicia Arnold sat down with Tyler Mickelson to discuss it.

To learn more watch the video above, or their Q&A can be found below.

What kind of symptoms are bothering people?

Dr. Alicia Arnold, “We see an increase in patients with sinus and asthma problems around the holidays. People report throat and eye irritation, stuffy noses and headaches. Some researchers have looked into this and found that Christmas trees could contribute to increased mold levels, even making the levels greater than 5 times normal.“

What is it with trees?

Dr. Alicia Arnold, “Before we purchase them, the trees are outside where they get wet. When we bring them home, moisture and mold can be hidden in the tree branches. And then we bring them inside our heated homes and place the tree in water. Mold can multiply in warm settings and then the heating and ventilation in our homes can spread the mold. In addition to mold, some people can be allergic to a substance in the sap of trees.”

Are some of our old ornaments a problem, too?

Dr. Alicia Arnold, “Yes, ornaments, lights, artificial trees are frequently stored in basements and can become dusty or moldy. You can help avoid this by keeping them in waterproof containers and wiping down decorations before using them the next year.”

What can we do to try to decrease the risk of symptoms?

Dr. Alicia Arnold, “You can try shaking out real trees or even artificial trees outside before decorating them. If you want to be really thorough, you can try using a leaf blower to remove potentially allergenic debris from the tree before you bring it into your home. You can also limit the amount of time you have the tree in your home. If you have allergies, being early to decorate for Christmas may work against you.”

Speaking of Christmas... I've heard poinsettias can be problematic too, right? For people who are allergic to latex?

Dr. Alicia Arnold, “People allergic to latex can have a higher risk of being allergic to poinsettias. So it may be best to avoid having them in your home if you are latex allergic.”

Is there anything else we need to be on the lookout for?

Dr. Alicia Arnold, “For some people wood burning fireplaces can produce ash and smoke, causing folks to have worsening asthma or allergy symptoms. Also, holiday air fresheners or candles can inflame your airways even more and make you feel uncomfortable.”

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