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Common Asthma Triggers in the Holidays and How to Avoid Them

Most people love the holidays. However, that sense of joy and celebration can also cause asthma symptoms to flare up. Your best strategy is to be aware of the situations in which you are more susceptible to an asthma attack and make plans to avoid any precipitating asthma triggers as much as possible. 

Here are some tips for helping you reduce your chances of having an asthma attack during the holidays.

1. Drastic Temperature Changes

The cold weather and early darkness of the winter months often bring fewer opportunities to get outside and exercise. These conditions can cause the body to begin releasing adrenaline and cortisol, which can cause the airways to narrow. 

The adrenaline in the body can also trigger the release of inflammatory mediators that can also lead to airway constriction. For these reasons, holidays can be hazardous for an asthma attack.

2. Smoke in the Home

When you spend time in the kitchen or at the dining table, you are likely exposed to cigarette smoke. If the weather is cold and windows are closed, smoke can linger even when not smoking. Even though you may not be eating, breathing smoke can exacerbate asthma symptoms.

3. Smoke in the Outside Air

Many folks try to avoid smoke indoors by spending time outside. However, cold air can actually increase the damage done to the airways. The colder it is, the harder the airways have to work to allow oxygen to enter and carbon dioxide to leave the lungs. Wood-burning stoves can also produce particulates and chemicals that can cause the airways to constrict.

4. Scents of the Season

Instead of candles, try decorating with pine or evergreen branches. You can also hang wreaths or other decorations with a pine scent. If you must have a scented candle, choose a candle with a label that indicates that it is made without fragrances that can trigger asthma symptoms.

5. Dust and Pollen

Dust and pollen are common allergens, especially during early spring. If you plan to go on a hike or play outside with your kids, try to do so during the cooler morning hours. Also, wash your hands before and after going outside, and change into fresh clothes to reduce the amount of dust and pollen that may have settled on you.

6. Pets

So many of us love our pets, especially during the holidays. However, try to limit your pet’s presence in the house, and make sure that your pet’s fur doesn’t always come in contact with your face. Bathing your pets regularly can also help minimize the number of allergens they release into the air.

7. House Plants

Many people enjoy decorating with their plants, but house plants can actually be a common asthma trigger. Be sure to keep plants far from your face, and try to limit your exposure to the plants’ fragrances. It can also be helpful to have a friend with asthma check the plants for pests, dust, and mold before investing in a new plant for your home.


While it may be challenging to avoid all asthma triggers during the holidays, you can better prepare. The most important thing to do is understand how your asthma works and what may trigger asthma symptoms in you. By being aware of your symptoms and the situation around you, you can better avoid asthma triggers.

Aspen Medical Center provides primary care and urgent care. We are a locally owned outpatient medical facility in Santa Fe and Espanola, NM, offering state-of-the-art primary care and urgent care services. If you need a primary care physician in Santa Fe, get in touch with us today!