Are you suffering from Christmas Tree Syndrome?

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?

If you have an artificial Christmas tree, you might be in the clear, but for those of us who put up a live tree every year, beware that Christmas trees are a source for mold.

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

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  1. Just another ” this will put you in the ER” message. Hey it’s the holiday and can we skip the paranoia for a couple of weeks for a change.

  2. I’m sorry… WASH your tree? How do you do that, exactly? And how would making it moist not make it a better environment for mold?

  3. How would one go about washing a live Christmas tree? And shouldn’t it be completely dried so that it doesn’t get moldy?

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.