5 Tips for Scaring Away Spooky Halloween Health Hazards
An unwanted cavity in your child’s sweet tooth isn’t the only health concern that can haunt the Halloween season. Hidden health hazards can be lurking not only in candy but also in costumes, haunted houses, and jack-o-lanterns, especially for little ghosts and goblins who have allergies and asthma. The following is a list of common Halloween health hazards with tips on how to avoid them.
1 From Hair-Raising Screams to Frightening Wheeze
Haunted houses may be scary fun, but they can cause real-life fright if your child can’t breathe easily. Excitement and anxiety provoked by zombies, ghouls, and goblins can sometimes trigger asthma symptoms if your child’s asthma isn’t properly controlled. Running from house to house in search of treats can also trigger symptoms. If your child has asthma or exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB), be sure he or she carries emergency medicine, such as a quick-relief inhaler, and uses it as prescribed to prevent symptoms.
Hidden Allergy Tricks in Halloween Treats
Halloween is a tricky time if your child has food allergies, especially to peanuts. But dairy, wheat, and eggs are also common allergens found in different candies and other Halloween treats. Read product labels carefully before letting your child indulge in his or her sweets. Also, if you suspect your little one has a food allergy, make sure to see an allergist for testing to identify all of your child’s triggers far in advance of Halloween festivities. (See sidebar for more tricks for ensuring your child has allergy-safe treats.)
Simple Tricks for Ensuring Allergy-Safe Treats
Halloween candy is a big part of trick-or-treating fun. But for children with food allergies, these edible treats can mean trouble. Here are some simple tricks for ensuring your child has allergy-safe Halloween treats.
♦ Purchase treats that your child can enjoy safely, and swap them for treats with allergens after trick-or-treating.
♦ Send candy your child can consume to Halloween parties or send non-food goodies like spooky stickers.
♦ Volunteer to provide the snacks for Halloween parties at school to ensure there will be foods available that your child can enjoy.
♦ Always have emergency medications on hand just in case unrecognized food allergens are hiding in Halloween treats.
Jack-o-lanterns might be more than just a scary face if your child has an allergy to pumpkin. Although a pumpkin allergy is rare, it can develop at any time, suggests research from the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Anything from carving a pumpkin to munching on its seeds can cause an allergic reaction with symptoms that can include chest tightness, hives, and vomiting.
Beware of Costumes
From the dusty clown costume that was retrieved from the attic to the mask made of latex to the nickel in jewelry, swords, and other accessories, Hallo-ween dress-up can be a landmine of allergy and asthma triggers. Dress your allergic child wisely. Some kids also have contact dermatitis that can be caused by the preservatives in Halloween makeup. If you’re not sure what triggers your child’s allergies, see an allergist who can help pinpoint the problem.
While jumping through piles of leaves can be tempting for your little ones as they are trick-or-treating, it can also be harmful. Molds are commonly found on leaves this time of year and can cause severe asthma attacks. Running through leaves can cause mold to stir into the air, resulting in high exposure. Plan ahead and talk with an allergist about seasonal allergy and asthma triggers and how they can be avoided.
Allergies and asthma are serious diseases that, when left untreated, can be dangerous. If you suspect your child has one of these conditions, make an appointment with a board-certified allergist to develop a treatment plan that may go beyond over-the-counter medications. For more information and to find an allergist, visit AllergyandAsthmaRelief.org.
Source: American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, AllergyandAsthmaRelief.org
This article was originally published in Coping® with Allergies & Asthma magazine, September/October 2013.