For many of us, our home feels incomplete in December without a real-life Christmas tree. Yet as we’ve discussed before on our blog, Christmas trees have downsides, too, and a big one is that they can cause mold growth. What’s more, studies indicate that bringing a Christmas tree into your home can also contribute to allergy problems.
"Christmas trees are another possible source of mold exposure during the holiday season," according to Philip Hemmers, an allergist and immunologist with St. Vincent's Medical Center in Bridgeport, Conn. "Mold allergies peak in the fall, and we see a second peak with a lot of our mold-sensitive patients during the holiday season. Our finding correlates with this second peak of mold sensitivity."
In a study co-authored by Hemmers and presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, it was found that the number of mold spores present in a Connecticut home used for research were about five times higher than the normal average. In other studies, researchers have found a correlation between mold spores and an increased rate of allergic inflammation, asthma symptoms, and even asthma-related hospitalization during the holidays.
Of course, Christmas trees are not a problem for all allergy and asthma-sufferers; it all depends on how severe your respiratory issues are. If you find yourself having a hard time breathing during the holidays, it is a good idea to skip the Christmas tree altogether, or go with a fake one. If you believe your allergies or asthma may be mildly irritated by the presence of a Christmas tree, you will want to take the necessary steps to protect your health and well-being during this time of year.
3 Steps to Take This Christmas If You Have a Mold Allergy
- Pay Attention to Your Heating System: The more humid an environment is, the more likely it is that mold will thrive. That’s why paying attention to heating habits during the winter may not only help your Christmas tree by preventing it from drying out, it will also ensure you’re your Christmas tree doesn’t lead to excess mold growth. For one thing, make sure your tree is positioned away from any heating vents. It can be tempting to jack up your heating as high as possible during the winter, but this is a great way to end up with mold spores in the air (and to increase your utility bills by a lot.) For this reason, we also suggest lowering your thermostat as much as possible. This will help to balance out the cost of using your heating system while simultaneously reducing the likelihood of mold growth.
- Monitor Moisture Levels: Besides heat, the other major factor that leads to mold is moisture. The combination of heat and water creates humidity, which, as we all know, is the catalyst for mold growth. However, there are ways to reduce the amount of moisture in your house. Because mold thrives in dank, dark environments, consider installing a dehumidifier if you have a basement. Also, never put your Christmas tree in the basement, as this is a recipe for lots of mold spores. Keep your kitchen and, in particular, your bathroom tidy, since these are the places in your home where the most moisture accumulates. And when it comes to taking care of that tree, try to avoid over-watering—this will also help your Christmas tree last longer and look beautiful all season long.
- Seek Necessary Treatments: If you get diagnosed with a mold allergy by a doctor, there are now ways to treat it year-round. Thanks to advances in medical science, nasal corticosteroids, decongestant nasal sprays, and oral decongestants can now all be used to treat mold allergies. Antihistamines have also been found to be effective at reducing mold allergy symptoms, and the tablet Montelukast can block the chemicals in your immune symptoms that lead to allergic reactions from mold, although this drug has been linked to side effects such as insomnia, anxiety, and depression. The bottom line is that even if you don’t want to spend the extra money on medications this Christmas, they can go a long way to helping you enjoy that tree and stay comfortable at the same time.
FP Property Restoration Are Your Local Mold Experts
Unlike with other allergy triggers, it is impossible to avoid mold entirely. While you can stay away from certain foods, mold spores are ever-present. However, when there is an excess amount of mold spores in the air, you can always count on FP Property Restoration to be there. While many individuals claim to be certified, our professionals are state-licensed to perform mold remediation, which means they have years of experience and training to get the job done right. Call today for mold inspection and testing, and don’t let mold allergies turn you into a Grinch this Christmas!