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The following article was published in Your Health Magazine. Our mission is to empower people to live healthier.
DeBritt Ealey, LAc
Pet Allergies
Allergy Solutions of Reston

Pet Allergies

Do you love spending time with your pets but don't enjoy the itchy eyes and skin, the runny nose, sneezing, coughing or congestion they might cause? Do you not own pets because of these symptoms?

Pet allergies are quite common and can make living with your best friends difficult.It is estimated that 10% of the entire population may be allergic to animals. More than 70% of homes in the US have a dog or cat. Many people, who are allergic to cats, live with at least one cat in their home anyway. If you already have other allergic reactions, the rate for pet allergies, in your case, increases significantly.

Common symptoms can range from respiratory problems and asthma to congestion and sneezing to red itchy eyes or skin rashes or hives with either casual or direct contact. Some people react immediately while others have a more delayed response.

Reactions can come from the skin cells that the animals shed (dander) or their saliva. Dander can be a very big problem because it is so small and can stay in the air for a long time, which can increase the exposure. Dander and pet saliva can stick on furniture, clothing, bedding, carpets, and rugs where it can be picked up again. Reactions can happen months after the allergen has come to rest on the floor or other surfaces. Pet dander can also enter the house on clothing or remain stuck on the carpet.

There are some breeds of dogs and cats that are thought to be hypoallergenic, however this is not fully the case. People may be less reactive because the animal doesn't shed but they can still have the reactions with the dander or saliva of the animal. All pet hair can still collect dust, molds, pollens and other airborne allergens that can cling to the pet hair causing allergic reactions.

The benefits of owning an animal and the companionship they bring to an individual or family is beyond measure. If you experience allergy symptoms with your household pets, here are a few suggestions from the Mayo Clinic thatcanhelp minimize the allergens in your home

Bathe your pet frequently. Ask a family member or friend without allergies to bathe your pet on a weekly basis.

Establish a pet-free zone. Make certain rooms in your house, such as your bedroom, pet-free zones to reduce allergen levels in those rooms.

Remove carpeting and dander-attracting furnishings. If possible, replace wall-to-wall carpeting with tile, wood, linoleum or vinyl flooring that won't harbor pet allergens. Consider replacing other allergen-attracting furnishings, such as upholstered furniture, curtains and horizontal blinds.

Enlist help. When it comes time to clean your pet's kennel, litter box or cage, ask a family member or friend who doesn't have allergies to do it for you.

Use high-efficiency filters. High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) air purifiers and vent filters may help reduce airborne pet allergens.

Keep your pet outside. If your pet can live comfortably outside, you can reduce the amount of allergens in your home.

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