Are your holiday celebrations wreaking havoc on allergies?

Are your holiday celebrations wreaking havoc on allergies?

Twinkling lights, delicious dishes, celebrations with family and friends – the holidays are a wonderful time. Fortunately, a few simple precautions can assure those with allergies can celebrate without worry.

“Holiday celebrations can be made comfortable for those with allergies” shares Dr. Mark Hermanoff, an allergy and clinical immunology specialist with Aurora Health Care.

Here are key triggers to watch for, along with ways to stay safe, according to Dr. Hermanoff:

Food allergies

Allergic reactions to food can occur when a child or adult eats something they are allergic to. Make certain that family and friends are aware of the food allergy and always ask about ingredients in foods served at celebrations.

  • Be prepared with a plan to treat reactions with medications, including epinephrine auto-injectors and antihistamines.
  • Consider bringing a food allergy-safe dish to share with everyone.


Make sure when you leave home to bring your asthma rescue medication.  If you are traveling, bring your asthma controller medications and your asthma action plan to be ready for an asthma flare-up.

Pet allergies

If you are going to a home with pets you are allergic to, be ready and pre-treat with medications as directed by your health care provider.

Second generation antihistamines cause less sedation, including loratadine, fexofenadine or cetirizine. Nasal steroid sprays also work, if recommended by your provider.


Alcoholic beverages can cause some people to flush, but typically do not cause allergy symptoms. Always drink in moderation and never drink and drive.

How to prepare

Be ready for your allergies by bringing your medications with you. If you have asthma bring your rescue medications. If you have food allergies, bring your epinephrine and antihistamine rescue medications,” Dr. Hermanoff advises.  

It can be challenging to distinguish allergies from a viral infection.

“Many symptoms will occur with either infection or allergy: sneezing, runny nose, congestion, cough and wheezing,” Dr. Hermanoff says.

One key difference: viral infections often present with fever, chills, sweats and symptoms that come on suddenly without a clear association with an allergy exposure. A viral infection will not respond to antihistamines.

To stay healthy this season, self-care, relaxation, getting plenty of sleep and staying up to date on vaccinations are key, shares Dr. Hermanoff. Make sure to stay home if you are sick or have a fever to protect those around you.

If your allergies are impacting your holidays and over-the-counter treatment are not providing relief, seek the help of a health care provider for further care and to determine if a formal allergy evaluation is needed.

Not feeling well? Find out which immediate care option is right for you: Illinois | Wisconsin

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About the Author

Anna Schapiro
Anna Schapiro

Anna Schapiro is a public affairs coordinator at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She has a background in public relations and communications and studied journalism at Northwestern University. When she’s not working on internal communications for the organization, she enjoys cooking, reading and living in Chicago.