Staying merry in spite of holiday allergies

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LIBERTY, Mo. -- The things we love at Christmas can be top triggers of allergies and asthma, but there are ways to stay merry.

You might think the decorating is complete at the home of Kim Harris and his wife. Oh, no. They're just a third of the way there.

"Downstairs will be Santa Claus. There will be a clown tree upstairs which scared one of our students to death," Harris said.

The retired William Jewell College professor and his wife have collections that are nothing to sneeze at. Yet Harris has been sneezing.

"Last night, I had to sleep separately because I was sneezing and carrying on so much," he said.

Harris figures he's allergic to dust on the trees and ornaments. Dr. Nguyan Tran with Allergy and Asthma Care in Overland Park says to avoid dust or mold, store artificial trees in airtight containers.

"And then dusting it either using a vacuum cleaner with upholstery attachment can help, or washing off the tree with a wet rag," said Dr. Tran.

If it's a real tree, mold on it can be a major trigger. The doctor says if you must have the real thing, don't bring it straight from the outdoors to the inside of your home.

"You let it sit in your garage for about a week or an enclosed porch to let it air out and prevent the mold from continuing to grow," she said.

Beware of poinsettias if you have latex allergy. The pretty plants comes from the same family that natural latex comes from, so you can get a rash or respiratory symptoms from them.

Dr. Tran says if you're an allergy or asthma sufferer, take your medicines now to prevent symptoms.

The doctor told Harris to take prednisone in addition to his standard medicines.

"We're crazy," he said.

Crazy about Christmas.

"Yeah, just, you know, the magic," he said.

Dr. Tran says watch the candles, potpourri and fires in the fireplace which may irritate you and your holiday guests. And pay attention to your stress levels. She says studies show stress can flare up allergies and asthma.