a woman peering outside from her window

Remember, Remember the 5th of November (Doesn’t Have to Make You Sick)

Last updated: November 2022

"Remember, remember, the 5th of November," is a historical chant that is celebrated this time of year. Bonfire Night or Fireworks Night is creeping up on us all, and traditionally it is a time when families and friends get together to celebrate Guy Fawkes in the UK. For some historical context, Guy Fawkes was a 17th-century English conspirator that infamously tried and failed to blow up the houses of parliament.

Feeling isolated during this celebration

As always, people who suffer from allergies may find themselves isolated or not considered during this time. Do not get me wrong; I don't wish to cry for attention or pity for us allergy warriors. I merely seek to highlight that this is yet another social celebration that can make us feel like we are missing out on the fun, and it doesn't have to be this way. There are things we can do to be part of the celebrations still and have an enjoyable time.

How is Bonfire Night celebrated?

Normally, during these celebrations, the weather is very cold and dry. During the celebrations, usually, bonfires and fireworks are involved. Thankfully with the pollen season fully over, pollen allergies are not an issue, so standing in a huge, open field isn't a problem where that is concerned. Although the freezing cold weather plays havoc with my eyes. I am pretty sure I have a condition called dry eye but have not had that formally diagnosed.

My eyes will start watering, and when the smoke gets thicker, I start itching my eyes ferociously. They then get red, and the night is usually ruined for me at this point. No one wants to look like a zombie at a public event, so it used to get me down a bit.

For many years I would not attend these celebrations for fear of having these flares, but there came the point where I was tired of staying home while everyone else was out having fun. The cold weather is another thing I have to factor in when attending Bonfire Night. The dry and cold air irritates my chest and causes me to wheeze.

The after-effects of exposure to smoke and cold weather

During past years I noticed that my asthma would be really bad after the celebrations. Again, not surprising with all the smoke inhalation, but in my defense, I assumed that being outside would counter the effects.

Ways I enjoy the celebrations without the negative effects

I am prepared to look a bit daft wearing my wraparound sunglasses. But, they help to protect my eyes somewhat, or if my eyes are still affected, the severity is much reduced. I stand well back from the bonfire so that less smoke drifts toward where I'm standing. I make sure to bundle up with warm layers and my hood.

Enjoying the festivities once again

Wearing a mask is a neat trick in preventing the cold air and smoke from going straight into my lungs. Last year this is what I actually wore. I was getting a lot of strange looks, but people soon got used to me. It was all worth it, though, because I felt reasonably unaffected the next day. I now attend Bonfire Night every year, and I can enjoy the festivities just like everyone else!

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