Allergic reactions at Christmas


Typical allergy triggers during the Christmas Season

Over the Christmas time we all consume plenty and unusual foods at parties and family gatherings. Seasonal favourites can trigger or irritate allergies, from foods like nuts and eggnog to candles and seasonal greenery. Allergy sufferers need to be on 'high alert' for hidden allergens, facing the abundance that Christmas brings with all the tempting food choices.

Many people experience reactions or sudden allergic responses of some kind during this time, including life threatening reactions (anaphylactic shock).
Intolerance reactions are also very common, perhaps best explained with the 'rain barrel' effect. 'Too much of a good thing ... can tip the balance'.
A small dose of additional food exposure (drop of water) added to full barrel (high amount of exposure) = will cause the barrel to overflow and activate symptoms.

Knowing what triggers your reactions can help to avoid uncomfortable symptoms. If you are faced with symptoms and don't know what triggered them, have a look at the list of typical culprits. Often there are more than one involved.


The Most Common Foods - Known to Cause Reactions

• Alcohol / red wine
• Citrus fruits, oranges, kiwi
• Caffeine
• Cocoa / dark chocolate
• Dairy products - aged / blue cheese
• Dried fruits
• Eggs / eggnog
• Nuts
• Pork
• Tomatoes
• Shellfish & fish
• Sweet corn /Maize
• Soya
• Spices - cinnamon, cloves
• Wheat
• Yeast

Artificial colours and flavours
- MSG Monosodium Glutamate (E621)
- Nitrates (E 249-252)
- Aspartame (E951),
- Sorbitol (E420)
- Sulphites (E220-227) 


9 Typical Migraine-Headache Triggers at Christmas

Many people experience headaches and migraines over the Christmas Season. This is mainly due to exposure to unusual foods, drinks, additives and artificial fragrances.

Other triggers known to cause migraine headache include medication, emotional or physical stress, too much or too little sleep, bright lights, hunger, activities and exercise, diet and food, and hormones among other factors.

Though for some people it might be not just one thing alone, as we typically consume and overindulge in the many 'specialities' brought along by Christmas.

We have compiled a list of the 9 most common triggers.
Check the list to figure out what might cause your migraine headaches.


Headache - Migraine Trigger Checklist
1. Oranges - citrus fruits
2. Cheese aged cheeses, Blue cheese
3. Chocolate dark Chocolate
4. Alcohol, red wine / mulled wine
5. Dehydration
6. Odours / artificial fragrances / scented candles
7. Food Additives / food colourings / sulphites / MSG / nitrites, nitrates,
8. Artificial sweeteners
9. Coffee Tea Caffeine




Allergen’s and Reactions Explained

Eggs: egg /eggnog. Raw egg white is highly allergic, and cause problems for many people with a wide range of symptoms. These include diarrhoea, bloating, excessive gas, bad breath, as well as headaches, muscle aches, fatigue, or sudden behaviour / personality changes and anaphylactic shock.

Nuts: a dish of mixed nuts is the most common unsuspected enemy. People, for example, who know that they cannot eat walnuts will carefully select a peanut which, unfortunately, had contact with the walnut in the dish. The results can be immediate - tingling of mouth, swelling of mouth, lips, tongue, face, itchy skin, abdominal problems, or difficulty breathing and anaphylaxis.

Artificial colours and flavours: foods which can cause difficulty are a special seldom eaten meals containing sauces, dressings or fillings, often followed by desserts. All of which may contain additives, preservatives, flavour enhancer or food colourings. Sometimes a different spice or flavouring can trigger symptoms in some people.

MSG (E 621) Monosodium glutamate: a flavour enhancer found in many processed foods - from: dressings, stock, bouillon, malt extract or flavouring, low sodium salt, soy sauce, crisps, snacks, and many frozen foods.
Reaction can be severe and divers, including: asthma, shortness of breath, chest pain, runny nose, sneezing, bloating, stomach cramps, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, rash, hives, flushing, tingling or swelling of mouth. Mood swings, rage, migraine, headache, dizziness, mental confusion, lethargy, Insomnia, anxiety, panic attacks, hyperactivity, palpitations.

Sorbitol: although considered healthy some side effects: diarrhoea, abdominal pain, stomach cramps after eating abdominal bloating or gas (flatulence), nausea, vomiting, dizziness. Sorbitol intolerance is more common while allergies are rare. Known to aggravate and cause irritable bowl syndrome.

Alcohol: alcohol can increase the likelihood of severe allergic reactions to other foods. Alcohol can exacerbate underlying conditions such as asthma, urticaria and rhinitis.
Wine contains yeast, bacteria, sulphites, tannins, egg albumin, tartrazine, sodium benzoate and can trigger urticaria and asthma. Histamine - present in many alcoholic drinks, particularly red wines and can cause headache, flushing, nasal symptoms, gut symptoms or asthma.

Christmas Tree:
The humble christmas tree can cause uncomfortable allergic reactions, wheezing, and sniffling. The odour of an evergreen tree are pine terpenes. If the pine odour is a problem, avoid the fragrance of pine in cleaning preparations, candles, soaps, bubble bath, or aerosol sprays. A contact-type itchy rash is not uncommon. A Douglas Fir may cause no problems while a spruce does. Pine pollen is not the cause of Christmas tree allergy because these trees do no pollinate. Mould: The mould spores on the trees can trigger asthma or allergies and cause symptoms like sneezing or an itchy nose. Consider switching to artificial decorations.
Artificial Tree: often have strong chemical odours due to the composition of the tree or the chemicals which are sprayed on them.

Whether in candles, plug-ins or sprays, fragrances are increasingly cause for concern. Each year we see a larger and more complex selection in fragranced products. Repeated exposure can cause respiratory issues, symptoms like wheezing, watery eyes to headaches which can become a real issue when in common areas such as the workplace or visiting a friend or relative. Fragrances are considered the leading cause of cosmetic contact dermatitis. Scented candles and air fresheners emit VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which often include formaldehyde, petroleum distillates, limonene, alcohol and esters. High concentrations of VOCs can trigger eye and respiratory tract irritation, headaches, dizziness, and even memory impairment.



We provide Combination Allergy & Intolerances testing:

Allergy Link - based in the UK - available worldwide


  Testing by Post - convenient from the comfort of your own home.

  Painless and non-invasive - suitable for children and adults.

  5 different tests to choose from - How to choose.

  Best all-round test is the Standard 150 items test - SAMPLE

  Easy to order - How to

  Fast and efficient  - 7 to 10 working days.

  Emergency / Urgent testing - available also between Christmas and New Year 2020



Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas 2020





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