An expert has sent a warning regarding ‘Christmas tree syndrome’ ahead of Christmas Day.
Getting ill over the festive period is quite common – with many people mentioning they have a runny nose or a sore throat.
This can be due to the cold weather or because of all the Christmas parties they’re attending.
But a doctor has listed another factor that can lead to you feeling unwell – which may surprise you.
Dr Bhavini Shah, a doctor from LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor, revealed to The Sun that the common cold-like symptoms might not be caused by a virus, but may in fact be an allergic reaction to your Christmas decorations.
She explains that an allergy occurs when your body mistakes a harmless substance for a harmful one.
Our immune systems produce antibodies to fight the cells they don’t recognise by releasing chemical substances which then trigger an allergic reaction.
She then proceeds to list five allergies you could be suffering from over the holiday season.
Firstly, she mentions ‘Christmas tree syndrome’ – which is when you have an allergic reaction to the iconic festive-season staple.
Symptoms for this include sneezing, coughing, itchy eyes, congestion or ‘even asthma flare-ups’ that happen due to mould spores, pollen or ‘other allergens that may be present on the tree’.
Secondly, Shah points out tree pollen – which impacts people who suffer from hay fever in the spring and summer.
This can be due to trees being grown outdoors – where it’ll pick up ‘mould spores from the surrounding environment, especially in damp or humid areas’.
So, if your Christmas tree has pollen, you may suffer from hay fever-like symptoms in the winter.
To avoid this, Shah claims that you should buy a fake Christmas tree instead.
Christmas only occurs once a year, so there is a good chance that you store your decorations somewhere like the attic or garage for the majority of the year.
In the 11 months that they are put away, they’re likely to have picked up a lot of dust which ‘contains a mix of particles like pollen, mould spores and dust mites’.
Once they are pulled out and put around your home, the dust becomes airborne and is likely to trigger allergic reactions.
The GP suggests wiping down your decorations with a damp cloth before getting them out and recommends that you store them in airtight containers or vacuum bags.
Finally, Shah claims that scented candles can also lead to illness as they contain chemicals that can trigger allergies.
“Many scented candles contain synthetic fragrances, dyes and additives that release volatile organic compounds when burned,” the GP explains.
“These chemicals can irritate the respiratory system, leading to symptoms like coughing, sneezing or congestion.”