How Christmas decorations can ruin your health – from poinsettias to Christmas trees

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The holidays are coming, but they bring some health warnings with them.

As much as festive Brits are looking forward to tucking into their Christmas dinner and setting up camp in front of the TV, leading charity Asthma UK has warned that for many, Christmas brings with it health complications.

Wales Online have reported that glitter, pine cones, and fir trees could trigger those who have asthma.

Asthma UK has also warned yuletide lovers about Christmas Tree Syndrome and other seasonal irritants that can be found in their home.

Leading charity Asthma UK want to want festive fans about Christmas Tree Syndrome
Leading charity Asthma UK want to want festive fans about Christmas Tree Syndrome
(Image: Getty Images)

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This festive health complaint can affect adults, children, and babies and health professionals at the charity have advised being careful if you’ve opted for a real tree.

For asthma sufferers, real trees can trigger breathing problems as they release mould spores into the air, which are an irritant and can prompt airways to inflame and tighten.

The charity has said 40% of those living with asthma have attacks bought on by mould and fungi.

Synthetic tress can also cause problems as they collect dust and mould while in storage in attics and sheds which can spread through the house once assembled.

Both real and artificial Christmas trees can cause problems for asthma sufferers
Both real and artificial Christmas trees can cause problems for asthma sufferers
(Image: Getty Images)

Other symptoms of Christmas Tree Syndrome can include an itchy nose, watery eyes, wheezing, coughing, chest pains, and insomnia.

Recent data shows that 8,113 people were admitted into hospital after suffering an asthma attack in December 2020 in the UK.

Dr Andy Whittamore, Clinical Lead at Asthma UK and a practising GP, said: “Every person with asthma will have a different pattern of symptoms and triggers.

“Understanding your own personal triggers and keeping an eye out for symptoms can help you to keep on top of your asthma symptoms so that it doesn’t get in the way of your Christmas.

Both real and artificial Christmas trees can cause problems for asthma sufferers
Both real and artificial Christmas trees can cause problems for asthma sufferers
(Image: Getty Images)

“This time of year, the cold weather and viruses are a major trigger but there are things closer to home that we can do something about.”

If you are someone who loves a scented candle but have breathing issues, you also may want to think before you put that a special festive candle in your shopping basket.

Other possible breathing problem triggers can include fragranced candles and the smoke from a picturesque open log fire.

Natalie Hough, 40, from Lancashire, found her asthma symptoms intensified around Christmas time.

It took Natalie eight years before she realised that it was, in fact, the dust and mould from her Christmas tree and festive decoration that along with some of the foods she ate, that was triggering her.

Christmas Tree Syndrome should be a concern for all asthmatics urges leading UK charity
Christmas Tree Syndrome should be a concern for all asthmatics urges leading UK charity
(Image: Getty Images)

She said: “I started having really bad asthma attacks around Christmas and was using my inhalers a lot more.

“I was sent to see an immunologist and we began keeping a diary to see what the potential triggers might be and whether it was a pollen or allergen response.

“But it turned out to be both and linked to the decorations and food and drink I was having around Christmas time.

“Once, I was walking home a few days before Christmas when I had such a bad attack I collapsed and was rushed to the doctors and put on a nebuliser.”

She went on to talk about how she has found coping strategies so she can still fully enjoy her festivities.

She added: “From then on, I swapped real trees for wooden and metal ones at home, storing them in plastic containers to prevent them gathering dust while in storage.”

Poinsettia's can be harmful to your pet
Poinsettia’s can be harmful to your pet
(Image: Getty)

Mulled wine and gravy are among the foods that can cause an asthma attack if too fragrant.

Pet lovers should also be careful as, according to the Pet Poison Hotline, the much-loved table centrepiece poinsettias are mildly poisonous to cats and dogs.

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