Is Your Christmas Tree Making You Sick?

Zoonar/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Allergists say they are seeing an increase in the number of patients coming in with respiratory issues – and get this: the culprit could be your Christmas tree.

“The Christmas trees, especially the live Christmas tree, when you bring it indoors, you're giving mold a good opportunity to grow,” said allergist Philip Hemmers in Bridgeport, Conn. “The warm environment, the nutrition on the tree -- mold will start growing and spores will be released into the air.”

“We noticed that our patients were having allergy symptoms at a time of the year that it was unexpected,” Hemmers said. “Typically allergy patients are worse in the spring and fall. A lot of our patients had symptoms around the holidays.”

The problem will occur in patients who are allergic to mold or have problems with dampness and humidity, Hemmers said.

So how can you prevent this? “Typically, the way they're stored can lead to increased levels of dust mites,” Hemmers said. “Other recommendations are to keep the tree in the house for a short a period as possible.”

The longer the tree is inside the house, Hemmers said, the higher potent levels may be.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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