Is your Christmas tree making you sick?

Updated: Dec. 4, 2019 at 11:06 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Twinkling lights, shiny ornaments, Christmas trees help set the holiday mood, but could they also be making your family sick?

The unofficial term used by some allergist is “Christmas Tree Syndrome”, it describe an allergic reaction to either the tree itself, decorations or mold growing on the tree.

“In general, there’s going to be a few people that just realize when they bring the tree in, their eyes are going to start getting watery, or they’re coughing from it, so it’s something to think about,” said Dr. Ben Barlow Chief Medical Officer with American Family Care.

Dr. Barlow says this applies to real and artificial trees but he also said Christmas Tree Syndrome is not a real medical term.

“I would never say somebody has Christmas Tree Syndrome. When a patient would come in this time of year a doctor would think, ‘do they have the flu?’, ' do they have a cold?' or are these symptoms caused by allergies. If we don’t think it’s the flu. We don’t think it’s a cold. We don’t think it’s something else serious and we’re thinking it might be allergies, then you try to identify a cause,” explained Barlow.

Barlow said before you chuck your tree, and it’s a real tree, make sure you shake it before bringing it inside.

“That can cause a decrease in symptoms prior to bringing it into your house,” said Dr. Barlow.

If the tree is artificial, wiping away dust may help.

Dr. Barlow said if your symptoms are mild, you can take meds to treat the reaction but if your symptoms are severe, unfortunately, you may have to throw it out. See your doctor before making a final decision.

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