Stay well with your asthma at Christmas

There’s a lot you can do to stay well during the festive season. Find out more about how to prepare for Christmas, common Christmas asthma triggers, and how to choose an asthma-friendly Christmas tree. 

Christmas checklist

There are a few things you can do to make sure that your asthma is under control before Christmas:  

  • Check your medicines are in date and you’ve got enough medicine left to last over Christmas and New Year.
  • Find out your pharmacy’s Christmas opening times. You can find your nearest pharmacy on the NHS website.
  • Check your GP surgery’s opening times. When they’re closed, you can phone NHS 111. 
  • Collect any medicines you need before your GP surgery or local pharmacy shuts for Christmas. 
  • Keep your asthma action plan with you, so that you know what to do if you have an asthma attack.  You might find it useful to take a photo of your asthma action plan on your phone. You can share this with friends and family too.
  • Make sure you have enough antihistamines and nasal sprays if you have rhinitis or other allergies.

“If you’re worried about your asthma or your symptoms are getting worse, book an appointment to see your GP or asthma nurse before the festive season. It’s also a good time for your GP or asthma nurse to make sure your asthma action plan is up to date. This will make you confident in dealing with any symptoms over the Christmas period,”  says Dr Andy Whittamore, Asthma + Lung UK’s in-house GP. 

Common Christmas triggers

“The best way to deal with any of your Christmas triggers is to make sure you stick to a good asthma routine, including over the holidays,” says Dr Andy.

“This means taking your preventer inhaler and any other medicines exactly as prescribed, even if you're out and about or staying with family or friends.”

“Check your reliever inhaler (usually blue) is always close by too, so you can treat any asthma symptoms quickly.”

Colds and flu

You might go out more over Christmas. Socialising with lots of people means that you’re more at risk of catching a cold, flu, or coronavirus.

In one of our recent surveys, 3 in 4 people with asthma said colds and flu trigger their asthma symptoms.  

You can reduce your risk of getting ill by getting your flu vaccine and your COVID-19 vaccine,  washing your hands frequently,  and trying to avoid people with cold or flu symptoms.

Find out more about colds and flu

Cold weather

Going from a warm house to cold weather outdoors can trigger asthma symptoms.  One way to help prevent this is to wear a scarf loosely over your nose and mouth, as this warms up the air before you breathe it in.  

Find out more about cold weather and asthma.


Christmas is a cause for celebration, but it can also be a busy and stressful time of year.  Stress can trigger your asthma, so taking time to look after yourself and do things you enjoy is important. There’s lots of help available too.

Find out more about managing stress when you have asthma.


For some people, the ingredients in alcohol can trigger asthma symptoms.  If you think that your asthma could be triggered by alcohol, try drinking low-alcohol or non-alcoholic drinks instead.

Find out more about alcohol and asthma.


If you’re allergic or sensitive to certain foods, this can trigger your asthma.  If you’re visiting friends or family, let them know in advance what you can and cannot eat.

Find out more about food triggers.

Open fires

Smoke from open fires or wood-burning stoves can trigger asthma symptoms. Use smokeless fuels at home. If you’re going to someone else’s house, remind them that an open fire could be a problem for you.

Find out more about open fires.

Cigarette smoke

If you’re seeing friends or family who smoke cigarettes, vapes or cigars, ask them not to smoke around you.    

Find out more about cigarette smoke.

Scented candles

If you know fragrances from scented candles are a trigger for your asthma, ask friends and family not to burn them around you. You could also ask them not to gift you one.

Find out more about indoor asthma triggers.

Christmas trees

If your asthma is triggered by dust, pollen or mould, you might need to think about the type of Christmas tree you get this year.

Real Christmas trees

Not everyone with asthma has a problem with real Christmas trees. But they do trigger some people, bringing on asthma symptoms and increasing the risk of an asthma attack.  

Real Christmas trees can bring mould spores and pollen into the house.  In a warm home, spores can multiply.  If you’re sensitive to mould and pollen, you may notice symptoms similar to hay fever when you get a real tree.  Your asthma symptoms could get worse too.  

If you’re thinking of buying a real tree:

  • Hose down your tree before you bring it into the house. This will wash off any mould or pollen.  Make sure it’s dry before decorating with electric lights.
  • Keep your tree in the coolest part of your house. This means mould spores are less likely to multiply. Put the tree outside straight away if you notice your asthma symptoms getting worse.
  • Try out an artificial Christmas tree if a real tree is triggering your symptoms.  

Artificial Christmas trees

If your asthma is triggered by dust,  you may need to be careful when getting your artificial tree out of storage. If your tree has got dusty, try vacuuming it or wiping it down with a damp cloth.  

You could use airtight plastic bags or boxes when you pack the tree and decorations away again, so they’re less likely to get dusty through the year. 

Get support

Call our Helpline for support with your condition. Get advice on your medicines, symptoms or travelling with a lung condition, or just call us to say hello.

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