RUNNELLS, Iowa — The trend of buying real Christmas trees is still increasing amongst millennials. The National Christmas Tree Association said there was a 20% increase in real tree sales between 2017 and 2018 and only a 4% increase in artificial tree sales.
CNN reported that Christmas tree sellers are expecting another wave of new customers this holiday season after last year’s surge in sales.
However, many don’t know that they could be falling victim to the “Christmas Tree Syndrome.” This refers to how people are affected by the mold found on Christmas trees. Researchers at the University of New York said that 70% of mold found on live trees can trigger severe asthma attacks, fatigue, and sinus congestion. That’s why local allergists are urging people to clean their live Christmas trees before bringing them into the house.
“If you have asthma, mild, moderate or even severe … you have to be very careful. If you have allergies, you will have more congestion rhinitis, watery eyes, itchy sneezy, as well as maybe some atopic dermatitis or eczema,” allergist, Dr. Alkatib said.
There are a couple different options for cleaning a tree. You can hose off the tree to remove pollen and mold, wipe down the trunk of the tree with bleach and then leave the tree outside for a day or two to dry. However, the work doesn’t stop there. Other holiday decorations, including artificial trees, also have to be cleaned thoroughly.
“So these ornaments might be stored in basements and attics, so they have a lot of dust, a lot of mold. So you want to make sure that you clean them outside the house as well. Let it dry for a while and then bring it in. That will also help decrease your allergies or the exacerbation that you might have from these dust” Dr. Alkatib said.
Dr. Alkatib also advised those who recognize allergy symptoms to go to the doctor for the right treatment. Though most allergies aren’t fatal, Dr. Alkatib said they can affect a person’s quality of life if never treated.
“Patients can live years without knowing that they have allergies and they chuck it off to a cold,” Dr. Alkatib said. “But they will just be miserable in terms of having to deal with runny eyes, not being able to concentrate. Sometimes migraine headaches with pressure on their sinuses as well.”