Experts from the National Asthma Council Australia have warned that putting up the much-loved Christmas tree can in fact cause 'Christmas tree syndrome' - an allergic reaction that causes wheezing, sneezing, coughs, sore eyes and potentially serious asthma attacks.
Even more surprising is that both real Christmas trees as well as artificial trees have their own dangers.
Real Christmas trees like cypress and pine can collect high amounts of pollen from other plants before they are cut down, which can trigger asthma and hay fever symptoms once you bring them home.
Artificial trees can also cause problems if they gather dust, dust mites, or even mould in storage.
National Asthma Council's sensitive choice program manager David Furniss said that that most people were unaware that real Christmas trees can harbour pollen and can trigger asthma and hay fever symptoms.
"Pollen can have a big impact, causing your asthma symptoms to get worse," Mr Furniss said.
Artificial trees can be a safe alternative but, if used year after year, they accumulate dust, dust mites and even mould in storage.
"Even the most exciting part of the Christmas tree tradition, decorating, can put you at risk too, if decorations in storage have become dusty."
The National Asthma Council Australia has these tips to help keep your festive season free of wheezing and sneezing:
Live Christmas tree
- Hose down your live tree before you bring it into the house to help to wash off the allergens.
- If you notice increased asthma or allergy symptoms, move your tree outside.
Artificial Christmas tree in your home
- Give it a good shake outdoors before you put it up inside.
- Unpack your tree and decorations outside and vacuum them as you get them out of the box.
- Wipe down your artificial tree, wreaths and ornaments with a damp cloth to remove the dust.
- When you pack your tree and decorations away, use airtight plastic bags and sealed boxes so they collect less dust.
Mr Furniss said if you have asthma, it's important to be aware of your asthma triggers and manage them if possible.
"You should also continue to follow the written asthma action plan that you have developed with your doctor," she said.
"Make sure you have your medication with you and take it as advised by your doctor, even if you are out celebrating during the festive season or away on holidays."
For more information on asthma and allergies, visit the National Asthma Council Australia website: www.nationalasthma.org.au