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  • Writer's pictureLucas Nava

Local doctor says allergies and asthma are interconnected

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• Though many people suffer from allergies year-round, the holiday season can be especially triggering.

• Christmas trees, wreaths, and other decorations can collect mold and dust.

• The scent of pine from a fresh tree can worsen allergy and asthma symptoms.

Dr. John Ditto of Richmond Breathe Free Sinus & Allergy Centers explained how allergies and asthma are interconnected in an interview with Gateway Reporter.

"The paranasal sinuses and the nose and the airway are linked because of airflow and because of their mucosa, and how they react to allergens and other agents that could irritate either one," Ditto said. "What we know is that if a patient has allergic rhinitis at a young age and it's not managed, they can then form asthma. Also, we know that with chronic sinusitis with the inflammatory mediators, some believe that gets into the lungs and that creates a problem with asthma. Also, some believe that chronic sinusitis with infection can leak into the airway and drip into the lungs and cause pulmonary issues. So there's a direct link, and then that can exacerbate asthma."

According to WebMD, over 40 million Americans experience allergies year-round, and winter can be especially triggering for allergy symptoms. Seasonal decorations, such as evergreen trees and wreaths, can attract mold, a major allergy trigger. While artificial decorations are considered a good substitute, they should be stored in dry containers and areas to avoid the spread of mold, which is common in damp spaces. Both natural and artificial decorations can attract dust, which triggers allergy and asthma symptoms as well.

GoodRx reports that the pine scent commonly found in Christmas trees and other decorations can set off allergy and asthma symptoms. Pine tree sap contains terpene, a chemical that irritates the eyes, skin, and nose. Flocking, or fake snow that is often used to decorate trees, can also be an allergy and asthma trigger as well.

Allergies can be caused by droppings from pests such as mice, cockroaches, and spiders. Such pests like to live in dark, damp areas, including basements and garages, and they tend to reside in decoration bins because they aren't moved too often.

If you'd like more information on allergy testing and treatment options, take this Sinus Self-Assessment Quiz.

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