O Christmas tree syndrome, how nasty art thou symptoms – Julie Deverick BSDHT

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  Posted by: The Probe      25th November 2019

It sounds more like a poor Christmas joke you’d find inside a cracker than an actual medical condition, but for many people during the festive period, Christmas tree syndrome is no laughing matter.

But what is this festive condition and why does it occur? It basically all leads back to the introduction of Christmas trees into our homes. Many people forget that much like flowers and long grasses, trees create pollen too. Inhaling this pollen can lead to nasty allergic responses that mimic the symptoms of hay fever.

It’s not just the pollen that causes this allergic response, though, and the main culprit is often thought to be the mould that grows on Christmas trees when left in a warm environment, such as inside our homes. The spores of this mould can trigger the usual snuffly symptoms alongside asthma attacks and other potentially life-threatening responses.

According to some sources, almost a third of British people may suffer from Christmas tree syndrome, including children and young babies.[i] This means that as many as 22 million people could be suffering unnecessarily every year!

We also need to consider the potential effects that this allergic reaction can have on oral health. Much like hay fever, dry mouth caused by allergic responses can quickly encourage increased levels of tooth decay. Furthermore, pressure that builds up due to inflamed sinuses can also cause teeth to hurt, leading to consistent discomfort – something not particularly conducive to the festive spirit!

As such, it’s worth asking patients who are feeling flu-like throughout the lead up to Christmas whether Christmas tree syndrome could be the culprit.

One good alternative may be to suggest an artificial tree, though even these can gather dust and set off allergies. Therefore, the best option is likely to be to tell patients about Christmas Tree Syndrome and perhaps discuss with them some possible further alternatives such as keeping their tree outside in the garden where it won’t impact their allergies as much!

In the end, the lead up to Christmas should be fun and festive and not made miserable by mould. By telling patients about this little-known condition you can help them avoid allergic responses and the possible effects on oral health these may bring.

 

For more information about the BSDHT, please visit www.bsdht.org.uk

call 01788 575050 or email enquiries@bsdht.org.uk

 

 

 

 

[i] The Independent. Christmas Tree Syndrome: How Your Festive Fir Could Be Making You Ill. Link: https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/christmas-tree-syndrome-asthma-uk-allergy-coughing-sneezing-symptoms-a8089306.html [Last accessed August 19].


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