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Pet Allergies by Ashley Hayes

By at November 4, 2012 | 7:00 am | Print

If you have trouble breathing or take on cold like symptoms during or after contact with an animal, then you may have a pet allergy. A pet allergy is an allergic reaction usually caused by dander, saliva, or urine from animals such as cats, dogs, and rabbits.

An allergic reaction is very similar to having a cold. You may sneeze frequently and notice that you have a sudden runny nose and itchy, watery eyes. Nasal congestion, coughing, facial pressure and itching of the nose are also common symptoms of an allergic reaction due to pet allergies.

The reaction is due to pet allergens coming into contact with your body. Your immune system begins to make antibodies to ward off the perceived threat. These antibodies target the specific intruder while the immune system triggers an immune response causing the above cold like symptoms.

To test for a specific pet allergen, your doctor can refer you to an allergy specialist. The specialist will do a skin test with various pet allergens. These allergens are pricked into the skin, usually on the upper back or forearm, and are left for about fifteen minutes. After the time is up, the specialist can read each individual test and look for a reaction. If a test is positive, you will acquire an itchy, red rash at the test site. If for some reason a skin test is unable to be done, a doctor can also do a blood test to look for specific types of antibodies present.

The best treatment for pet allergies is to remove the pet. Removing the pet prevents future allergic reactions. If they can be removed, a very thorough cleaning will be needed afterwards. It is best to remove furniture, bedding, and carpet that they were in contact with. If furniture cannot be replaced, try to buy a hypoallergenic covering for the item, such as a hypoallergenic mattress cover. If the pet cannot be removed then there are alternatives to help control your reactions.

Some medications that can be taken are decongestants and anti-histamines. Decongestants can help reduce swelling in the nasal passages and make it easier to breathe. Anti- histamines help to alleviate the common symptoms caused by an allergic reaction. These Medications can be prescribed by your doctor or purchased over the counter at a drug store. If the medications do not seem to be working there are other treatments such as immunotherapy and nasal lavage. Immunotherapy is a series of allergy shots that can help accustom your immune system to a certain allergen. These shots are given weekly and followed up with maintenance shots every month or yearly. Nasal lavage is using a saline spray to relieve nasal passages of irritation and congestion. It is a salt and water mix that can be easily made at home by combining 1/8 tsp. of water and 5 oz. of purified water together and storing at room temperature. This saline combination should be used daily.

If you are considering moving in a new pet take precautions to make sure that you are compatible with it. Try to spend time with the specific pet before you get your own. Pet shelters and friends that own pets can make great scenarios to test your immune system. Ask shelters if you can pet the animal or ask friends to let you play with theirs for any amount of time. If no allergic reaction symptoms are noticed, then it is most likely safe to get the new pet.

 

References

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/pet-allergy/DS00859

http://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/conditions/asthma/allergens/pets/

 

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