Allergy is a pathological, qualitatively altered tissue response to the interaction of various foreign substances called allergens
This feature lies in the immune response associated with the emergence of specific antibodies. After binding to an antigen, which in this case is an animal protein, they lead to the release of various substances – inflammatory mediators.
Thus, the animal antigen is recognized by the allergic person’s body as a toxin or pathogen, despite the fact that it is indeed harmless to non-allergic people. As a result of an erroneous diagnosis, an unnecessary, very strong protective reaction of the body occurs, which causes great harm to health.
How is it formed?
With the growing trend towards acquiring pets, the problem of allergic reactions to them is also becoming more common. Putting pets as the second biggest culprit behind dust mites. The most sensitizing animals are guinea pigs (males) and cats, followed by horses, mice, hamsters and dogs.
Contrary to popular beliefs and theories that spread information about the different types of breeds intended for allergy sufferers due to the lack of hair, the coat itself is not the culprit for allergy problems. The largest source of allergic reactions is the epidermis of animals, their saliva and urine, sweat and sebaceous glands, depending on the species.
The allergen is spread by animals by licking on the surface of the coat. The mucus particles dry out and the allergens they contain become volatile. They enter the respiratory system and therefore into the body. And dandruff is in the last place among allergenic factors.
Various types of birds are also dangerous for allergy sufferers: parrots, canaries and breeding birds (pigeons, chickens, ducks), wool – sheep, goat and camel, as well as furs of other animals.
The cause of allergic exposure is the proteins they contain, which are enzymes responsible for the formation of unwanted reactions.
A prerequisite for the development of sensitization and the subsequent development of symptoms of the disease is the presence of allergens in the environment. The likelihood of sensitization with the subsequent development of concomitant symptoms (asthma and rhinitis, etc.) increases with direct contact with an animal and living together with it. But it should be borne in mind that those who are in rooms where the allergen is present are also susceptible to an allergic reaction. Allergens are found in places where, in theory, animals do not exist. Their presence is found in the upholstery and interiors of public places and even new buildings or hospitals.
Dog or cat?
The strongest and most common allergy right after guinea pig is the cat allergy. Despite the numerical superiority of dogs living in houses, it is cats that are among the animals that most often cause unwanted reactions. Studies also show that the spectrum of reactions and symptoms among people with cat allergies is also stronger and larger in relation to those who are allergic to dogs. One factor that prejudges this is the fact that the feline allergen is more intense than the canine allergen and causes more severe reactions. It is kept in the apartment where the cat was kept for a long time after it was taken out.
It is believed that white cats are less sensitized. The fact is that the proteins contained in the wool of a white cat are somewhat different from the proteins of colored cats. It is also known that they are more sensitive to male animals that are hormonally active, therefore male sterilization is one of the ways to neutralize the aggression of allergens.
In the case of dogs, the breed is important when it comes to triggering an allergic reaction. The most allergenic breeds are those that emit a large amount of saliva (mastino neapolitano, bulldogs, etc.). The safest breeds are considered to be Basenji, Poodle, Chinese Crested, Curly Bichon and Yorkshire Terrier. Unfortunately, as we already mentioned, there are no absolutely non-allergenic breeds, and as skeptics say, the safest pet is a turtle!
When choosing a pet, it is a good idea to do allergy tests beforehand to check your allergy susceptibility. However, even a negative result does not guarantee that you will not be allergic to our pet after a while. When the test is positive, it should not exaggerate the occurrence of allergies, but only indicate a predisposition that may never develop.
The appearance of the symptoms themselves depends on many factors, such as individual predisposition, the intensity of allergens in the environment, the body’s immunity, etc. It also happens that an already diagnosed allergy spontaneously disappears or goes into a latent state.
The most common allergy symptoms are conjunctivitis, asthma, allergic rhinitis, hives, and other skin symptoms. It was found that among patients with animal allergies, statistically 5% develop conjunctivitis, 9% eczema, 27% runny nose and 78% asthmatic ailments. As a result of local exposure to an allergen, for example, licking by animals, urticaria and neurotic edema occur. In extreme cases, anaphylactic reactions also occur as a result of the bite.
Continuous exposure to allergens increases sensitization symptoms and leads to the development of allergic inflammation in the airways. Hence the pronounced severity of allergic symptoms in people living with animals. The presence of pets at home in children with asthma allergies causes an increase in the frequency of respiratory symptoms – more frequent colds, coughs, and shallow breathing.
On the one hand, the removal of the animal leads to an improvement in well-being, reduces the symptoms of bronchial hyperactivity, therefore many doctors recommend this method of behavior when conducting desensitizing therapy. On the other hand, new allergy theories continue to emerge that recommend exposing children to the allergen from the very first days of life. Thanks to this, the body produces adequate antibodies for individual allergens.
How can you help yourself?
Before you decide to purchase a new household, it is worthwhile to establish contact with the animal in advance and visit its former place of residence. You then have the opportunity to individually confront the allergen and determine if the breed of your choice is causing adverse reactions. If the allergic symptoms are severe and indicate that the reaction could be a health hazard, you may need to break up with your pet. However, if the symptoms do not worsen, there are a number of solutions that can be tried to resolve the negative symptoms.
To do this, you need to apply several basic rules:
the animal should not be allowed into your bedroom and, moreover, the ability to stay in beds;
reduce the amount of fabrics on which dust settles: curtains, carpets, upholstery;
clean the apartment regularly using vacuum cleaners with Hepa filters, remove dust from furniture;
wash bedding, bedspreads and upholstery often;
ventilate the premises;
strictly observe personal hygiene; do not touch your face with your hands when in contact with animals, wash your hands and face after playing with a pet, and do not let them lick your face;
use drugs that neutralize sensitizing substances and agents that suppress the production of allergens;
when deciding on owning a dog, it should be borne in mind that bitches are less allergenic than dogs;
the dog should be bathed or rinsed more often, and in the case of a cat, wipe with a damp cloth;
the cat litter box should be washed immediately after use;
an allergic person should not come into contact with dog and cat bowls, collar, leash or muzzle;
in the presence of rodents (guinea pigs, hamsters, etc.), the cells should not be in the room of the allergic person.
An allergic person should not participate in hygiene procedures associated with cleaning litter boxes, rodent cages or dog and cat logs, and avoid contact with the allergen as much as possible.
Always seek advice from an allergist and follow their recommendations for possible treatment.
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