Walking to work this morning the air was filled with fresh holiday pine, and spruce. All of the Christmas Tree Vendors are in full swing providing beautiful fresh decorations for your homes.
This reminded me of a common problem question that comes up this time of the year. Can you be allergic to your Christmas Tree?
Yes! About 6% of people are allergic to their tree.
You might think you are allergic to the pine pollen that the tree produces, but this isn't released until the spring. Mold spores are actually the culprit in Christmas tree allergy. The bark and sap of the tree captures many different types of mold. Studies of homes with trees show 5 x the levels of mold spores in them than homes without live trees. Additionally, the ornaments and decorations on the tree often get musty and dusty, contributing to the allergic response.
You probably are having an allergic reaction if you start to have increased symtpoms of sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, cough, or chest tightness after bringing your tree home.
Don't despair, you don't have to live without a live tree this season. There are antedotal reports of relief coming from washing the tree (this option would be difficult in NYC!) with a hose. Using a HEPA air purifier or taking an allergy pill daily while the tree is in the home might help. But I recommend if your symptoms are bad, you should see your doctor for specific advice.
If you have a suggestion please write in and let me know.