Do you mysteriously come down with a stuffy nose, itchy, watery eyes, and a nagging cough each holiday season right after your Christmas tree goes up? There's a very good chance you're suffering from 'Christmas Tree Syndrome' which plagues thousands of people in Illinois each year.

Seasonal Sniffling Problems

I have never formally been diagnosed with allergies by a doctor, but every year I notice more smells and situations leaving me a sneezing, sniffly mess.

Sitting around a campfire gives me a stuffy nose and headache. Sawdust makes my eyes itch terribly, and I seem to spend most of December stuffed up and coughing, but why?


I used to think that the change of seasons wreaked havoc on my immune system, but today I read a USA TODAY article that was a real A-HA moment for me.

What Is Christmas Tree Syndrome?

Christmas Tree Syndrome refers to respiratory or allergy issues triggered by the presence of Christmas trees in homes.  Sneezing, itchy eyes, wheezing, coughing, and even skin rashes can be part of the package and usually take several weeks to resolve.

'Pneumonia Front' To Hit Parts of Illinois This Week
conradcress, ThinkStock

Most people with known allergies do not have real Christmas trees in their homes to avoid these kinds of problems, but the real bummer part is that real Christmas trees aren't the only things that can cause this syndrome. Fake trees and holiday decorations can cause it too.

A pediatric allergist in Illinois named Dr. Zachary Rubin told USA TODAY;

Most people who experience these symptoms likely have an existing allergy to a specific allergen in their tree, but even those without a history of allergies or asthma can come down with a case of Christmas tree syndrome.

How Do Fake Trees Cause Christmas Tree Syndrome?

Pollen isn't the problem when it comes to Christmas Tree Syndrome, microscopic molds, fungi, allergens, dust, and even bugs are.

Christmas Tree
Milos Eric

Just think about it for a second; when your holiday decorations or fake trees aren't up, where do you store them? In a musty basement? A humid attic? In totes in an outdoor shed like I do? All of those scenarios can be a major breeding ground for molds, dust, and pests, and all of it is not good for our respiratory systems.

How to Prevent Christmas Tree Syndrome

Typical allergy medicine will provide relief from Christmas Tree Syndrome symptoms, but if you want to prevent the problems completely allergists say to;

  • Blow off and even rinse your fake Christmas tree before putting it up in your home.
  • Store all of your decorations in an airtight container.
  • Run an air purifier near your tree.
  • Get rid of your real tree as soon as Christmas is over.

Will knowing that my seasonal sniffles are likely caused by Christmas Tree Syndrome make me put up way fewer decorations next year or kiss a few of my trees goodbye? No way! I'll just stock up on some Claritin. LOL!

LOOK: 25 over-the-top Christmas displays from across America

To help get everyone in the mood for the upcoming holiday season, Stacker compiled a list of some of the most over-the-top Christmas displays across America.

Gallery Credit: Annalise Mantz & Madison Troyer

KEEP READING: See 25 natural ways to boost your immune system

More From Rockford's New Country Q98.5