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Christmas Tree Syndrome

While bringing home a live Christmas tree marks the beginning of the festive cheer for many, the mould that thrives on its branches can trigger weeks of suffering for some, a new study shows.

Otherwise known as ‘Christmas tree syndrome’, many tree owners suffer from an increase in hay fever-like symptoms during this time of year. This is according to a poll for Prevalin Allergy. The signs include an itchy nose, watery eyes, chest pains and coughing, and can affect adults, children and even babies.

But this is not the only allergic reaction that is occurring due to Douglas Fir.

Allergic Reactions

American researchers have found that the mould count from a live Christmas tree rose to five times the normal level two weeks after the tree was brought indoors. Such conditions can prove problematic for people with mould allergies. Their research was presented this week at the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology annual meeting, in Dallas.

“Christmas trees are another possible source of mould exposure during the holiday season,” said study co-author 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 mould-sensitive patients during the holiday season. Our finding correlates with this second peak of mould sensitivity.”

Switch to Plastic 

“Most of the time mould is obvious in the home, but many people don’t realise that mould also naturally grows on Christmas trees,” Dr Andy Whittamore, in-house GP at Asthma UK told Express.

“This is made worse when people turn their heating on, as the warmer temperature encourages mould to grow faster.

This can be a real problem for people with asthma, causing allergic reactions that can trigger asthma symptoms. In some cases, life-threatening asthma attacks. If you do suffer from asthma the sensible solution would be to invest in a plastic tree but if you cannot resist the Christmas spirit doctors advise to have your inhaler within reach.


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