What do the holidays hold for you, trigger wise?

So it's the first week of November, and Thanksgiving and the rest of the holiday season will be upon us … 

I know I try really, really hard to stay out of cosmetic departments of department stores … this time of year lots of people buy perfume for gifts, and they apparently sample lots and lots of different scents before they buy!

Sometimes, though, the scents come to me — I've had one magazine and one sales circular loaded to the gills with those perfume inserts!

I'm grateful that my family understands my asthma, and they don't smoke or spray lots of perfumes during family gatherings.

What triggers do you have to watch out for during this time of year? What sort of plan do you make to reduce the impact?


Comments 14

  • Jen

    I think some of those scents can also trigger allergies.  I know that, for us, holidays are a little more challenging for dd1 due to her peanut allergy – more eating out, people baking cookies that we can't let her have, etc.

    I'm also thinking that some of the special scented soaps and such could be skin irritants.  

  • K8sMom2002

    I do find that when I'm visiting other people's homes during the holidays, they tend to have lots of fragrance devices going — everyone seems to want their home to smell like pumpkin pie or cinnamon! The REAL pumpkin pie or cinnamon doesn't seem to bother me, but their chemical cousins do!

  • Megan Roberts

    @K8sMom2002 what do you do when you're in social situations where there are a lot of fragrances?  Or do you just try to avoid them?  It's one thing when your family is supportive enough to accommodate you (which is so great!).  But there are a lot of other holiday situations where people are dressed to impress — and for some reason that frequently seems to include dousing themselves in cologne or perfume!  

  • K8sMom2002

    Megan, it really depends … if it is something that I can't get out of, I try to limit my exposure time wise. In a previous job, I had to do lots of meet-n-greet types of functions for networking purposes, and I "borrowed" my boss' approach of systematically and quickly working a room clockwise until I got myself back to the door where I'd come in. 

    If someone is smoking, I don't play around — I'm out of there because cigarette smoke is an instant trigger for me for a severe asthma attack. 

    If it's perfume or fragrance, I can hold my breath and smile until I get a safe distance away. I start moving away as politely and quickly as possible. I literally don't breathe until I get that space that I need. 

    And I always, always have my inhaler. 

    Any tricks that you have?

  • Pljohns

    I haven't given it much thought since we never go anywhere or have people in but this year DH has finally consented to going to my company Christmas party-I'm sure they will be dressed to impress and won't give it a second thought.  Guess I need to get a game plan in place

  • lindamarie

    Scents don't bother me a whole lot, just occasionally.  But now I know I can use my "emergency inhaler" if they do!  Stress seems to be my big trigger and there is so much change going on in my life, the holidays can only add stress upon stress.

    I plan to keep the decorating to a minimum and I will continue to attempt to be more proactive about meditation, relaxation and activities that make me feel good.  (I have to be careful there, because I'm one of those people who wants to do everything and then I overschedule!)  

    Are there other things that might be triggering my asthma?  I'm learning a lot, but there's still a lot of information to get through!

  • Katie D

    @Pljohns I always loved company holiday parties ~ felt like a great excuse to get dressed up and get to know your colleagues a bit more outside of work!  Plus for us it was always delicious food and an excuse to knock off of work a little earlier.

    @lindamarie I'm the same way, I love to do everything and especially go to all the holiday events happening this time of the year, but then I get over scheduled and going to the events becomes more of a chore and I don't enjoy them, thus defeating the purpose!

    Trigger-wise we figured out my DH is allergic to live trees!  Last year was our first year getting a live trees and my DH was sick basically the entire month of December and we just thought he had a bad cold.  Finally on Christmas morning a lightbulb went off and we realized that he was reacting to the live tree we brought into the house.  He has many allergies so we believe he most likely was reacting to the pollen or possibly mold, so we kept the live tree until the day after Christmas and then we got rid of it  

    Almost immediately he started feeling better.  I felt so bad that about it because he was miserable the entire month.  So this year we are getting a fake tree instead but I told him that I'm worried he may react to the dust on it ~ which is his most severe allergy.Those of you with fake trees, do you find that you can vacuum them?  I'm thinking the first year the dust won't be so bad but there would be some that would accumulate and I am wondering how else to get the dust off easily.We have a  about tips for a healthier home for the holidays which talks about wearing a mask to dust off decorations and doing so inside your garage or outside.  There also is a healthier home sweepstakes, so be sure to  and enter to win one of four prizes.

  • Jen

    We have fake trees.  I haven't found them to get overly dusty.  One thing you could do before setting it up might be to rinse off all of the various "branches," if it's one that comes apart.

  • Katie D

    Thanks for the tip @Jen - my DH went to get a fake tree yesterday and they didn't have the one we wanted in stock… so now we await for Amazon.  Feels kind of strange waiting for a delivery of our tree, but is what it is!  

  • K8sMom2002

    Still battling those perfume sections. Wouldn't you know, DD and I needed makeup, so this past Saturday I had to wade into the Clinique counter. EVERYONE seemed to be spraying something! I did a lot of smiling and nodding, and we were outta there fast!

    Katie, you asked about fake trees and dust — I keep my tree in a bag with wheels on it for easy transport, so it tends to not get so dusty. My tree is pre-lit… so no washing. But you might, depending on the weather, open it up under a garage or out doors and shake it off. 

    @Pljohns, when's that Christmas party? Hoping folks won't be doused in perfume!

  • lindamarie

    I'm still learning what my triggers are, I think.  And it's been hard.  It seems like my doctors blame everything I'm going through on stress — which makes me feel like a hypochondriac!  haha  Somehow or another I always feel like I should be able to control my reactions to stress.  And if I'm not, that's why I'm suffering so. 

    I know stress is deadly, but what if they miss something else because they're not looking?  On the asthma side, I'm having trouble with anything that take energy or air…  I sing in the choir, walk the dog, climb stairs at home and the house is dirtier than I've ever let it become.  

    My family really isn't that supportive either.  In fact, my half-brother recently told me I was simply having a pity party.  (I wish I had been thinking quickly enough to ask him how he'd know, since he doesn't keep up with what's going on in my life.)

    So there.

    Maybe I'm just crazy, but at least you all are listening to me and giving me more positive things to think about…

    I've GOT to finish up most of my wrapping tonight.  We are going to my daughter's house (2-and-a-half hours away) on Saturday to celebrate Christmas.  They've got a lot of "rules" — plus my son is bringing his new girlfriend.  My daughter is quite anxious about that… <sigh>  I'm going to have to sit on my sarcasm a LOT and simply be syrupy sweet!  (God, help me!)

    Everyone hang in there!!!  I'm hoping for a lot of holiday miracles for all of us!


  • Pljohns

    Lindamarie-I hope you survived the "rules" and had a good visit.  NO you are NOT having a pity party!  Anyone that doesn't deal with a chronic health issue has no idea what it's like and how dare they say it's a pity party-when your whole life gets turned upside down, you can't do anything and you feel awful and the medicine makes you feel worse-how is THAT a pity party???  I think we all have family members that think that-personally, my DAD's solution to how expensive my maintenance meds are-"just wean yourself off them and then you won't have to worry about how much they cost because you don't need them"-OK right-let me make sure my life insurance is paid up!  

    Sometimes things get really tough and it sounds like you are juggling a lot right now with little/no help-cut yourself some slack and realize how important YOU are.  If others don't understand that, then tough-if they don't like how clean your house is-offer to let them help you clean it or do it themselves.  I'm the same way-my house isn't as clean as I normally keep it and all it takes is one comment and I feel like crap and then i about kill myself cleaning it-all the while wondering WHY I care so much.  I still tend to think I'm superwoman and can do it all-but I can't-and I haven't really accepted that yet and usually end up getting myself in trouble-asthma wise-with trying.

    for me, the holiday is almost a continuous trigger-the smell of the evergreen trees, all of the potpourri/air fresheners that smell like "Christmas"-you name it.  At least the smell of baking cookies doesn't bother me and I found ONE old candle that I had that is some cinnamon and some mint and I've been able to burn it without any problems.  Sometimes its hard to enjoy this joyous, wonderful season because of the mine field we all have to navigate because of this disease.  Can't even really enjoy getting together with family/friends because of perfumes/body sprays/pet dander for some-it's a mine field but it is a wonderous, joyous season where at least for a few weeks, everyone seems to be not quite as miffed as they normally are.