O Tannenbaum – How Sneeze-inducing Are Your Branches

Fall is over. Ragweed has died down, but that doesn’t mean the allergies have. The wonder of Christmas can carry a few negatives including Christmas tree allergens. If you have felt your allergy symptoms ramp up since you set up your tree, there are a few things to consider when picking a tree in the future. Both real and fake trees have pros and cons. Here’s a quick review:

Real Trees

Trees can emit airborne pollens. These pollens may come from the tree itself or from other trees that have “shed” their pollens onto your tree’s branches. Pine trees are also well-known hosts for molds. If you feel excessive fatigue or respiratory symptoms, you may have “Christmas tree syndrome” caused by allergies to pine tree molds.

Christmas allergies

To lessen the effects of these allergens, see if the Christmas tree lot you choose to purchase from can “de-allergize” your tree. This may involve shaking the tree with a mechanical shaker, blowing it with a leaf blower, or spraying it down with water or even a bleach solution to neutralize molds.

Also, wear gloves when touching the tree to avoid contact with “terpene” found in the sap of the tree. Terpene can cause allergic skin reactions.

Artificial Trees

Fake trees don’t produce pollens, it’s true, but they can become coated with them when they are stored in the attic or basement. They can also accumulate molds if they are stored in humid areas. To minimize this build-up, give your tree a good, powerful wash before you set it up indoors (and store it in airtight containers throughout the rest of the year).

You can try setting your tree up outside (on the porch) or in a bedroom of a home you don’t spend much time in. You can also limit the time the tree is up (maybe just a week or so before the holiday). For a fresh, new look, check the web for environmentally friendly trees. You’ll see a host of great alternatives to the standard tree including wood-frame trees decorated with kids’ art, comic book pages and more. They have a lot of personality and won’t
make you feel miserable.

If your allergies endure, contact AllergyEasy to see if you are a candidate for allergy immunotherapy.

About The Author

Stuart H. Agren, M.D.

Stuart H. Agren, M.D. completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Utah and went on to earn his Doctor of Medicine from Tulane University School of Medicine in 1974. He completed additional training at L.D.S. Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah and then established his private medical practice starting in 1975. Dr. Agren completed a mini-residency in Industrial Medicine at the Robert Johnson School of Medicine at Rutgers University and also completed training to become a certified Medical Review Officer.

Dr. Agren was the Medical Director at TRW and McDonnell Douglas in Mesa, Arizona and at Stauffer Chemical and Kennecott Copper in Salt Lake City, Utah. He also served as an adjunct faculty member at Arizona State University.

In his private medical practice, Dr. Agren specialized in family practice and allergy. In his work as a private practice allergist, he was one of the first doctors in the country to prescribe sublingual immunotherapy to his patients as an alternative to subcutaneous immunotherapy (allergy shots). He has also been a trailblazer in the field of food allergy treatment and research, developing a program to treat multiple food allergies simultaneously using sublingual immunotherapy. Dr. Agren has been featured on local CBS, NBC, and ABC news affiliates and won the peer-nominated “Top Doc” award from Phoenix Magazine.

After 20 years in private practice, Dr. Agren became the Founder and President of AllergyEasy, which helps primary care physicians around the country offer allergy testing and sublingual immunotherapy treatment to their patients. Over 200 physicians in over 32 states use the AllergyEasy program to help their patients overcome environmental and food allergies and asthma.