Brits warned of ‘Christmas Tree Syndrome’ which triggers deadly asthma attacks

A type of festive allergy known as “Christmas Tree Syndrome” can aggravate the lungs and trigger asthma attacks, according to leading charity Asthma UK

Both real Christmas firs and fake trees can aggravate the lungs and pose a real risk to asthma sufferers
Both real Christmas firs and fake trees can aggravate the lungs and pose a real risk to asthma sufferers

Christmas trees could trigger fatal asthma attacks during the festive season, according to a leading charity.

Brits putting up the festive fir in the corner of the living room could be putting themselves at risk of an allergic condition called “Christmas Tree Syndrome”.

The Yuletide centrepiece can harbour mould spores which are launched into the air and can aggravate the lungs – irritating airways and causing inflammation and tightening.

But opting for a plastic imitation doesn’t solve the issue as they’re usually left in attics for the majority of the year, picking up dust – another irritant for asthma sufferers, Wales Online reports.

Charity Asthma UK has urged Brits to be vigilant this Christmas period, fearing the syndrome could spur serious attacks and hospital stays.

It estimates that 40 per cent of asthma sufferers suffer attacks as a result of mould and fungi.

Turning up the heating to get cosy on Christmas Day also gives dust mites room to thrive – another leading cause of attacks.

Leading charity Asthma UK has urged sufferers to be vigilant during the Christmas period

The charity also warned that smoke from roaring fires or scents from fragrant candles can also trigger incidents.

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

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

But it took eight years before she realised it was the dust and mould from her tree and decorations as well as reactions to some of the foods she ate that was causing it.

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.

Natalie Haugh, 40, said she started noticing her asthma getting worse around Christmas time

“I’d just been in a shop where there were trees and decorations. I was so out of it I couldn’t remember a thing.

“It was scary to think Christmas goods could cause me to have such a severe attack.

“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.

“I also made sure all baubles and other decorations were stored in airtight containers and were properly cleaned before being put out.

“My partner Nick and I made food from scratch too, so I could avoid any sulphites.

“Having asthma doesn’t mean you have to cancel Christmas though or that you can’t enjoy it – you just have to be a bit mindful and make a few adjustments.”

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.

“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.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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