Pet allergies explained
People with pet allergies are allergic to certain proteins found in dander, urine, feces, and saliva in common household animals, such as dogs and cats. The compromised immune system of those people leads to the release of IgE antigens (a type of protein) that attaches to the lining of the respiratory tract, skin, and eyes.
Furthermore, this will produce chemical reactions that result in inflammation and common allergy symptoms, including: wheezing, coughing, constricted airways, runny or congested nose, itchy throat, and watery and itchy eyes.
Are pet allergies linked to asthma?
There is still a wide breadth of unexplained phenomenon between allergies and asthma in general. Not everything is known but it is assumed that chronic inflammation (from pet allergies, for example) can potentially lead to the development of asthma later on.
However, it is not a clean-cut piece of information and remains as a possible theory amongst a batch of contradicting information.
Can pets prevent allergies?
It is thought that early exposure to pet allergens can help reduce the risk of pet allergies in the future. Having a pet cat before the age of 18 can help decrease cat allergies while exposure before the age of one (in boys) to a pet dog can also do the same.
The possibility is there but further research is necessary to firmly confirm preliminary studies. Most will agree though that a bit of germs (and allergens) to boost immune systems may be quite helpful in the long run.
How do I know if I have pet allergies?
You may start suspecting pet allergies if you suffer from any of the previously mentioned symptoms while being around animals. You may also notice that those symptoms are gone or find relief soon after avoiding contact from pets.
The only real medical way of knowing what you are allergic to is by having an allergy test done. It is recommended that this test be done as soon as symptoms are bothersome in order to prevent chronic inflammation (and thereby, asthma or asthma attacks).
Treatment plan for pet allergies
The best treatment plan for pet allergies is removing the pet and avoiding them in future situations. If you are a big animal lover and insist on having a pet in the house, ignoring your allergies, then you can take other precautionary steps to help ease symptoms.
The most important is not allowing pets to sleep in your bedroom, and especially not in your bed. Keep the bedroom door closed at all times to avoid their unwanted proteins from contaminating your area.
Pet hair and other substances will get transferred anywhere so it is important to remove upholstery (or clean it daily) and/or prevent pets from getting on them. Your pets will have to undergo a proper bath at least every week to keep potential allergens at bay. Another option can be the use of special air filters to reduce airborne allergens.
An easy but non-natural solution can also be prescribed medication. Certain medications will help prevent allergy symptoms or asthma attacks, such as antihistamines. If you happen to have any type of allergy, it is always wise to work with your medical physician and come up with an effective treatment plan together accordingly.
Does ingested pet hair cause health issues?
Contrary to popular belief, ingested pet hair does not cause health issues. Pet hair actually has a similar structure to human hair, being made of mainly keratin, which cannot be digested by the human body.
Rumor has it that pet hair may travel to other organs but this is simply not true. Someone will have to ingest plenty of pet hair in order for health issues to develop and this highly unlikely.
Should I consider having a pet?
The benefits of having a pet far outweigh the possible side effects in most cases. It has been scientifically proven that pets bring comfort, help heal, and increase happiness in owners. They are a wonderful addition to any family and can contribute to a person’s overall wellbeing.
However, if you already suffer from pet allergies and your symptoms are uncontrollable, it might be best to not own any four-legged creatures. At the end of day, it is a personal decision (based on many factors, excluding health reasons) that will ultimately decide this answer.