Health experts report more respiratory allergies, refer to it as ‘Christmas Tree Syndrome’

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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) – Doctors say many people experience respiratory allergies known as the “Christmas Tree Syndrome” this time of year.

It is an allergic reaction to certain types of mold commonly found in live Christmas trees.

Christmas tree allergies can trigger upper respiratory infections if people become exposed to pine pollen, mold, or dust brought inside.

“People will be pulling out their old trees and buying live trees to bring in to their homes. All of these things can lead to symptoms in the respiratory tree,” Dr. William Epperson, Director of Primary Care at Tidelands Health, said.

Reactions can go from mild to severe in some cases, causing upper respiratory issues.

Commons symptoms are:

  • itchiness
  • watery eyes
  • runny nose
  • repetitive sneezing
  • trouble breathing

Fresh pine may be a nice Christmas scent, but doctors say mold on some of these types of trees is dangerous to breathe in.

“Live trees have been out in the environment where it gets damp. It can get mold and things growing on it. That does not affect the tree, but those molds got there because of mold spores,” Dr. William Epperson said. “They release a lot of spores into the air, so if that tree comes into your home, it can lead to a lot of allergy-like symptoms in some people.”

Artificial trees can also cause allergies if it is not wrapped properly in storage. Some medical experts found that 70% of mold and pine pollen found in Christmas trees cause asthma, fatigue, and sinus congestion.

If you’re bringing in a live tree or pulling out an artificial one from storage, here are a couple of recommendations from doctors:

  • wash your tree off with a water hose or sprayer
  • cover up your skin with sleeves while decorating
  • make sure you store your tree and decorations in a cool and dry place

“You might want to consider taking a sprayer or hose, wet the tree very well, and then let it dry. Take your blower like you are blowing leaves and blow your trees well, get the blowing onto the entire tree, and that will blow off a lot of mold spores and pollen,” Dr. Epperson said.

Symptoms can be immediate or may take days to worsen, depending on the individual.

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