There may be few things more frustrating than desiring to have a close, loving relationship with your pet but finding that doing so causes you to wheeze and sneeze constantly. Some individuals simply decide it’s not worth it, and forego experiencing the pet relationship they truly desire in order to remain allergy-free. Other individuals simply suffer through it, deciding that their relationship with their pet is worth the worst dripping eyes and the most annoying runny nose. Fortunately, there is a better way.
Understanding Pet Allergies
When an individual is allergic to a pet, they can get a stuffy nose, runny eyes, itchy throat, nasal congestion, sneezing, coughing, wheezing and even shortness of breath when they come into contact with that pet, come into a room where that pet has been, or even come near an individual who has been in contact with that pet. Many pet allergy sufferers believe that they are allergic to the pet’s hair or dander, which is why they may opt for short-haired or even hairless pets in an effort to reduce their symptoms. In actuality it is not the hair or dander that the individual is reacting to, but rather a protein that may be found on the pet’s skin, in their saliva and in their urine. These proteins are normally so tiny that they are easily airborne, which explains why some individuals can exhibit severe allergy symptoms simply by walking into a room where pets have been.
Some individuals are simply more prone to pet allergies than others, but individuals who already have other allergies or asthma may be more likely to also suffer from pet allergies. What is not currently well understood is why some individuals have very mild pet allergy symptoms while others have very intense, asthma-like responses. Fortunately, one can address and resolve their pet allergy symptoms regardless of how mild or intense they are.
How to Handle Your Pet Allergies
The first step to handling your pet allergies is ascertaining whether you actually have pet allergies. If you are experiencing allergic reaction-type symptoms but you are not entirely certain whether you are allergic to pets, you should visit an allergist to help identify what is actually behind your allergy symptoms. Once you have determined conclusively that you are, in fact, allergic to pets, there are some steps you can take to help resolve your discomfort, including:
● Keep your bedroom pet-free. Keeping your sleeping space pet-free can help decrease the level of allergens in that space, which can give you a bit of much-needed relief. The truth is this choice may be better for your sleep as well, as moving pets can cause you to wake up unnecessarily throughout the night.
● Use a HEPA filter. HEPA filters are expert at removing tiny airborne pollutants such as dust mites, pollen and pet dander, which can help you breathe more easily. Placing HEPA filters in specific points of house that you pets frequent the most can be much more effective in eliminating large amounts of pollutants than using a whole-house HEPA system.
● Do your housework more frequently. Sweep, mop, vacuum, shampoo rugs, change your own and your pet’s bedding, wipe down walls and dust several times a week. This helps to reduce the number of places where allergens can build up.
● Wash your hands frequently. Keeping your hands and face free from allergens will help reduce discomfort enormously.
● Consider medication or allergy shots. If your pet allergies are really bad, you may want to consider using medications, such as antihistamines, or allergy shots in order to help reduce unpleasant effects. Allergy shots can help you develop protective antibodies so that you won’t experience an allergic reaction when you are exposed to an allergen. They can take patience, though, as it may be a full year of weekly injections before you can switch to monthly maintenance doses for another three to five years.
● If you haven’t yet taken on a pet, consider one without feathers or fur. Turtles, geckos, lizards, snake, fish and even tarantulas can be fun pets, and will not present you with pet allergen problems.
It can take a lot of time and patience to figure out just how you can enjoy your pets while also managing your allergies, but it can be well worth it when you successfully foster a long, loving relationship with your pet without suffering from constant allergic reactions.