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If you are allergic to cats, dogs, or other animals, you may be able to get your allergies under control with little effort!
Dander (old skin scales which are constantly shed) is usually the main cause of allergic problems. Dander collects in the carpets, upholstered furniture and bedding. It is a myth that shorthaired animals or specific breeds will not cause allergic reactions.
First, make sure it's really your animal you're allergic to. Researchers at the University of British Columbia found that only one-half to two-thirds of children who tested positive for allergies to dogs or cats were actually allergic to them.
The main reservoirs of cat allergens are carpets, drapes, upholstered furniture, mattresses, walls, and ceilings, which catch dust and dander. Buy inexpensive vinyl encasing for mattress and box springs, and minimize upholstered furniture. Wash walls, ceilings, blankets, curtains, and throw pillows regularly.
Carpets hold 100 times more allergen than non-porous flooring. Consider replacing carpets with something else (tile, wood, linoleum, or scatter rugs that can be taken up and washed), especially in rooms you spend a lot of time in, such as the bedroom. If you must have carpets, spray them with a product containing nontoxic tannic acid, which helps combat the effects of cat allergens.
Increase your vacuum cleaner's filtration abilities by using special filter replacement bags that help trap particles. Or look for a vacuum cleaner that has a high allergen containment rating. A vacuum cleaner with a high energy particulate air (HEPA) filter is the best kind to prevent indoor allergens.
Declare your bedroom off limits to animals by closing the door at all times. Provide them with their own comfortable beds and blankets instead.
After petting your animal, wash your hands before touching your eyes or face.
If possible, have non-allergic people groom and bathe the animal and clean the litter box. Grooming should be done in a well-ventilated area, like a patio or screened porch.
Beware of dusty or deodorized cat litter, which can be as allergenic as the cat.
An air purifier will help rid the air of allergens. Look for a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter room air cleaner, which removes almost 100 percent of small allergenic particles. Free-standing cleaners are better than the small, table-top filters. Remember to replace the filters often.
Keep ducts, furnaces, and air conditioner filters clean.
Deinsulate your house. Researchers found that a "two-cat super-insulated home--one with every crack closed tight and windows triple-glazed in the name of energy efficiency--had nearly 40 times more cat allergen by weight than an ordinary two-cat home." Circulate air in the house by opening windows every day.
Healthy animals produce less dander. Feed them a high-quality diet twice a day.
Be thorough in cleaning: Search out dust, mold, animal hair. People are rarely allergic to just animals; if you're allergic to an animal, you're probably also allergic to other substances like dust, pollens, or mold. By decreasing other irritants, you'll reduce your overall symptoms.
Avoid tobacco smoke, automobile exhaust, and other irritants that can inflame your airways.
New medications can make living with allergies and animals much more comfortable. There are a wide variety of nasal sprays, antihistamines, decongestants, and inhalers that can help control allergy symptoms. Your allergist can help you choose the right medication for you.
New immunotherapy or allergy shots are more effective than ever. Studies show that immunotherapy can now be effective in about 80 percent of cases. (Immunotherapy induces a tolerance to cat allergen by gradually increasing the dose.) Talk to your doctor for more information.
Certain nutritional supplements and herbs can also minimize an allergic response, among them: vitamins A, B6, C, and E; quercetin, a bioflavonoid; flax seed oil, which contains omega-3 fatty acids; MSM (methylsulfonylmethane); and gingko. (13) Check with a holistic health care practitioner for specifics.
Study reveals that exposure to 2 or more dogs or cats in the first year of life may reduce subsequent risk of allergic sensitization to multiple allergens during childhood. (Journal of the American Medical Association)
Sources of allergy control devices and supplies:
Allergy Control Products
National Allergy Supply