Posted on Mar 23, 2018, 3 p.m.
This is a common problem for allergy sufferers, as cat allergies are among the most common. About 12% of people with allergies in USA are allergic to cats, in other places such as Europe it is even higher at around 26%.
People with cat allergies react to specific substances produced by the cats such as dander, urine, or saliva which can cause varied symptoms ranging from mild respiratory problems to anaphylaxis which can be life threatening. Most people will experience mild to moderate symptoms, some people with allergies can even live with cats, it is not fully understood why some develop cat allergies and others don’t.
Allergies develop when the immune system overreacts to a typically harmless substance, which causes the immune system to react as if the substance were a bacteria or virus trying to invade the body. Most people think it’s the cat hair which causes the adverse reactions, but it is not it’s other substances such as urine, saliva, dander and other substances that may attach to the cat hair which contain certain proteins that cause the allergic reactions.
There are studies that suggest exposure to animals early in life may sensitize individuals who are vulnerable to allergies. There are also studies that suggest exposure to animals early in life may lower the risks of asthma and allergies. There are results showing both sides of the spectrum. Individuals with other allergies are more likely to be allergic to cats. Allergies to dogs are very closely correlated to cat allergies.
The easiest way to treat cat allergies is not to get one, and avoid going to places that have one. Remove any items from your home that may have come in contact with cats, as the fabrics will retain the substances that trigger the allergic reactions.
Depending on the severity of allergic reaction it may be possible to live with a cat and have your own fur baby to own you. Doing so will require a combination of allergy treatment and do diligence to keep you home free of particles that will contain the protein which trigger allergic reaction, which means a lot of cleaning.
Knowing what substance associated with cat allergies that will trigger are reaction can help. An allergy test involving a skin prick placing a tiny amount of cat allergen under the skin can test for specific immune substances which will trigger allergic reactions, and can help to decide how best to proceed with management. Individuals with a history of anaphylactic reaction or history of severe asthma attacks should not attempt to live with cats as these types of severe allergic reactions can be life threatening.
If you have allergies and wish to live with cats or even visit homes with cats there are several things that can be done to help manage symptoms such as talking to a doctor about allergy treatments such as inhalers and nasal sprays; Allergy shots gradually desensitize the immune system to particular allergens over time; Do not use rugs or carpeting as they trap pet allergens; Keep pets out of specific areas to have a pet free break zone; Regular grooming of pets will reduce spread of allergens; HEPA air filters work wonders at removing allergens; Use a microfilter bag in vacuums to prevent allergens from travelling back into the air; Wash your hands after petting them; Make sure to vacuum furniture and sweep floors frequently; If you have a severe reaction and insist on having a pet make sure to talk to your doctor about epinephrine injection pens incase of a severe reaction for emergency use.
There currently is not any specific treatment or preventative strategy available that can guarantee a person will not develop pet related allergies. Pet allergies can be a minor inconvenience or a major obstacle to good health. It is possible for some with allergies to live with a cat, consult your doctor to discuss treatment options. Studies show there are benefits of having a pet, allergies do not have to cause chronic suffering, taking proactive measures will reduce likelihood of an unwanted allergic reaction.
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Medical News Today
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