Being frightened by make-believe ghosts, goblins and ghouls is a big part of the fun on Halloween. Unfortunately, asthma and respiratory allergy sufferers have more to fear. The spooky holiday comes with some very real issues that can ruin the fun. However, by taking some simple precautions, asthma and allergy sufferers can help protect themselves from a real Halloween nightmare. Here are six Halloween tips for allergy and asthma sufferers.
Tip #1: Treat stored costumes with care
Halloween costumes that have been stored in the closet, attic or basement can contain allergens and asthma triggers including dust, mold and dust mite waste. Before wearing stored costumes, wash them thoroughly in water that is as hot as possible without causing damage.
If a stored costume is made of material that isn’t washable, air it out and then clean it thoroughly with a HEPA vacuum cleaner. Asthma and allergy sufferers may also want to consider buying or making new ones each year. And make sure to use airtight containers when storing costumes in the future.
Tip #2: Makeup vs. masks
Masks can be made with low-quality plastic, latex and paints, which can trigger allergies and asthma attacks. And like costumes, they can also trap allergens both when they are stored and as children trick-or-treat on Halloween night. In addition, they tend to have small openings that restrict breathing. And they can be very hot, which can trigger an asthma attack. Painting your face with makeup is a better alternative, but make sure it is hypoallergenic and free from scents and dyes that can irritate the lungs.
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Tip #3: Avoid smoke and fog machines
Smoke and fog machines are often used on Halloween to create a creepy atmosphere at parties and in haunted houses. Unfortunately, they can cause breathing problems in those with respiratory allergies and asthma.
To create the spooky effect, some machines use a solution of water mixed with glycol, glycerin or mineral oil. These chemicals can trigger breathing problems in allergy and asthma sufferers including coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath. To be safe, it’s best for people with allergies and asthma to stay out of rooms where smoke and fog machines are being used in order to avoid these potential triggers.
Tip #4: Watch out for mold and other allergens
Piles of leaves, hay bales — even carved jack-o’-lanterns can be filled with mold that can send people with asthma and allergies home with breathing problems. Remind children not to run through piles of leaves, sit on hay bales or handle pumpkins while trick-or-treating. And while a hayride may seem like a fun, wholesome Halloween activity, it can be a disaster for allergy and asthma sufferers.
Tip #5: Don’t forget the medications!
Allergy sufferers should also remember to take either their prescription medication or an over-the-counter antihistamine before leaving the house to protect themselves against an attack.
Asthmatics should be sure to carry their fast-acting inhaler with them when trick-or-treating in case of an attack. If you or your child has had problems on Halloween in the past, it would be a good idea to speak to your doctor about pretreatment. He or she might recommend an extra dose of an inhaled steroid or using the fast-acting inhaler before going out for the evening as an extra precaution.
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Tip #6: Check the weather
Cold weather is a trigger for some asthmatics. If you live in an area where cold fall nights are a possibility, take that into consideration when planning costumes. And if Halloween night ends up being unexpectedly chilly, make sure to add accessories such as a scarf, gloves and hat to help keep warm when you head outside.
It’s also a good idea to check the air quality before the evening begins to make sure it’s safe to go out. A great resource for this is the AirVisual platform, the world’s leading air quality monitoring website.
If you or your loved ones have respiratory issues, keeping in mind these Halloween tips for allergy and asthma sufferers will help ensure a more pleasant holiday.
Every season, and every holiday, brings with them different concerns for those with allergies and asthma. Knowing the sources of those concerns and avoiding them is always good advice.
To limit exposure to allergens and asthma triggers throughout the year:
- monitor your indoor and outdoor air quality to be better informed about the air you breathe
- operate a high-performance room air purifier or a whole house air purifier when indoor air quality is degraded
- regularly change the air filters in your HVAC system and air purifiers
- install an air purifier in your vehicle
- safeguard your personal breathing space at work and away from home with a portable air purifier
- wear a high-quality face mask when outdoor air quality reaches harmful levels