Are you suffering from Christmas Tree Syndrome?
Looking at Christmas trees and decorating them is a popular holiday tradition, but could something so beautiful that brings so much cheer actually end up spoiling the holiday fun?
Did you know roughly 13 percent of the U.S. population is allergic to mold?
Since 1970, researchers have been conducting studies to determine how much mold grows on our Christmas trees and how harmful this mold can be.
In a 2011 study from State University of New York in Syracuse, researchers analyzed 28 Christmas trees and found 53 mold species. 70 percent of the 53 species were identified as being potentially harmful.
“Mold spores are dangerous when they reach elevated levels,” says Dr. Uma Gavani, an allergy and asthma specialist with Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill. “While mold can grow on Christmas trees and become dangerous, it’s more likely those with a mold allergy will be affected by the tree, and others will not.”
Dr. Gavani says these are typical Christmas Tree Syndrome symptoms:
- Watery or sore eyes
- Wheezing or coughing
- Itchy or runny nose
- Chest pains
- Difficulty breathing
If you’re not willing to buy an artificial Christmas tree, Dr. Gavani says there are ways to protect yourself from Christmas Tree Syndrome. She recommends:
- Wash your tree before bringing it inside
- Don’t keep your tree for too long. Instead, buy it closer to the holiday and get rid of it soon after
- Make sure humidity levels are kept low to reduce the growth of mold
About the Author
Jamie Bonnema, health enews contributor, is a specialist of public affairs and marketing at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn. She earned her BA in communications from DePaul University in Chicago. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, going to concerts, and cheering on the Chicago Cubs.