See. I have an allergy no one believes exists. No one believes it because they “have never heard of it”. But, alas the allergy is all to real and it is a pain to get anyone to actually listen to me about.
I have a Christmas Tree allergy. Actually, it is an allergy to the MOLD on Christmas Trees. Now, there are a few out there that know about it, but not a lot of research to show people. Basically there is a mold that grows on evergreen trees and when you bring it in the house that mold likes to really spawn and being in an enclosed place makes it worse. We found it years ago when I was little when my dad remarried. She always had a live tree and I thought it was the greatest thing ever. However, I came home sick every year after visiting him and ended up missing the first few days back to school. Never really though it was the tree…
One year my step-mom decided to get a small tree for my bedroom, which I thought was the best thing since sliced bread! My own Christmas tree! That year I was even MORE sick and missed the first TWO WEEKS back to school. The next year my step-mother purchased a fake tree and I was never sick again.
You see, my mom has the same allergy, though she will go into anaphylactic shock when she is exposed. My dad found out the hard way the first year they were married and he brought in the tree, then that night had to take my mom to the ER. Ever since we had always had fake trees which is why I thought it was soo cool to have my own LIVE Christmas tree in my bedroom that year at my dad’s.
Ever since then I have had to buy fake trees. Some people accepted and were more than willing to change for my benefit, including my ex’s family who always had live trees until up until I was in the family. However, I have had many, many, many people call me a liar and say that I just didn’t want to spend the holidays with them. So, I either had to sit at home alone or be miserable for days just so I could seem sociable.
My ILs now are a different creature all together. They are resistant to change and refuse to get a fake tree because they have always gotten a real one. Needless to say now that the holidays are less than happy with me because I always end up sick though it helps now that we do not live with the ILs anymore and can limit my exposure.
“Christmas trees are another possible source of mold exposure during the holiday season,” said study co-author Philip Hemmers, an allergist and immunologist with St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport, Conn. “Mold allergies peak in the fall, and we see a second peak with a lot of our mold-sensitive patients during the holiday season. Our finding correlates with this second peak of mold sensitivity.”
Some researchers in Conn. went into someones home and measured the mold from the time they brought in the tree for two weeks. They found that the first day there was only 800 spores per square meter in the air, normal is 1000 spores per square meter. But after day two the count rose to a whopping 5000 spores per square meter up to day 14!!! That is FIVE times the normal spore count! No wonder I was always sick!
“This mold spore count is five times above normal. These high levels have been correlated with allergic rhinitis and an increased rate of asthma symptoms and asthma-related hospitalization in other studies,” said Hemmers. “So if you don’t feel well during the holidays, consider the Christmas tree as a possible source of allergies.”
Now, this one only one house and one tree…but they knew of the connection before and are planning on more studies. This is great news for people like me!
So, if you or someone else seems to be sick every time they come to your house and you have a live tree at the holidays (or other live greenery) it may be because of the live evergreen! That doesn’t really mean you have to get rid of your trees…just be considerate and purchase a good air cleaner that will run in the room with your tree. This isn’t a cure, but it will help minimize the number of spores in the air in your home and make you or your guests more comfortable.
And if someone says they are allergic to your tree…Believe them, don’t call them a liar. They want to spend time with you, but you have to make some compromises for them. It isn’t right or fair to expect someone to come to your home and be sick for days for the sake of tradition.