Allergic to Pets? Learn About Cat Allergy

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Many people love pets and the two most common pets to have around are cats and dogs. But did you know that 3 out of 10 people in the United States have allergic reactions to these pets? Furthermore, according to Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, cat allergies are about twice as common as dog allergies.

Genetics can play a part as to why a person develops an allergy. If you have family members who are allergic to cats, then you’re most likely to experience an allergic reaction when coming into contact with them. People with allergies have very sensitive immune systems. When a substance enters our body, our immune system sometimes mistakes it as harmful and attacks it as it would attack a bacteria or virus. This is when our body has allergic reactions like itching, runny nose, skin rashes, and asthma.

People who have a cat allergy should be mindful of their environment because contrary to what most people think, it’s not the fur that triggers the allergic reaction but the proteins in the cat’s saliva, urine, and dander. One doesn’t have to own a cat to be exposed to allergens because it can travel on clothes or other materials.

Cat Allergy Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms of cat allergies sometimes overlap with other types of allergies. Here are some of the signs to look out for to determine if you have cat allergies:

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Red and itchy eyes
  • Hives or a rash on the face
  • Redness on the part where a cat has licked or scratched your skin
  • Swelling and itching of the membranes around your eyes and nose

Being aware of these symptoms can help prevent life-threatening situations like anaphylaxis, which is an acute allergic reaction to an antigen to which our body becomes hypersensitive.

How to Diagnose Cat Allergies?

There are a lot of allergy tests you can take to detect if you have cat allergies. One is by undergoing an allergy skin prick test. This test is performed in the doctor’s office. It is usually done by pricking your skin and depositing a small amount of allergen. After several minutes, the area where your skin was pricked may become red or swollen. If you have cat allergies, then there should be a red, itchy bump on your skin.

Another way to test if you have a cat allergy is by undergoing an allergy skin test. This test is usually done on the forearm and is considered to be more sensitive for detecting an allergy than a skin prick test. Both skin tests have differences so it would be better to consult your physician regarding the best testing method for you.

If you are not comfortable with skin testing, then you might want to try to take a blood test. The doctor will get blood from you and send it for testing. The results from the test may take longer to obtain than the skin tests, but there is no risk of getting an allergic reaction from a blood test.

How to Treat Cat Allergies?

Here are some of the treatments or medications you can use to help treat cat allergies:  Treat Cat Allergies

  • Antihistamines
  • Corticosteroid Nasal Sprays
  • Over-the-counter decongestant sprays
  • Cromolyn sodium
  • Leukotriene Inhibitors
  • Allergy Shots (Immunotherapy)

Make sure to consult your doctor or allergist first before taking these drugs or undergoing any treatments to ensure your safety.

What Can You Do to Reduce Your Chances of Getting Allergies to Cats?

As humans, we avoid the things that make us sick. So naturally, if we have cat allergies, we avoid getting too close to cats. However, cat allergens are airborne and can travel through different materials. Even if you don’t own a cat you are never completely safe from cat allergies.

Here are some recommendations you can follow to reduce your cat allergies:

  • Never sleep beside a cat.
  • As much as possible, don’t be in the same room with a cat.
  • Always make sure to wash all beddings to get rid of cat dander.
  • Use air filters in rooms where your cats frequent.
  • Wash your hands immediately after touching or petting a cat.
  • If you have a cat, confine it to one area in your house.

To know more about cat allergies, you may visit the nearest allergy clinic in your area. You can contact Brazos Valley Allergy & Asthma Clinics to learn more about the treatments they offer. They provide professional allergy, asthma, and immunology services to patients at six locations throughout the Brazos Valley.

Disclaimer: Information on this website is not intended to be used in place of your professional medical advice or treatment. Please consult your doctor or healthcare provider with any questions regarding a medical condition.

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