BY DR. ABRAR UL HAQ WANI and DR. SHAIKH NASRUL ISLAM
“If you have a runny nose, watery eyes, or wheezing after petting or playing with a dog or cat, you most likely have a pet allergy.”
Adopting a pet is a choice that has become common in modern society as a way to teach the next generation the value of responsibility through pet ownership. Taking care of a pet is not easy. It is important to effectively identify and treat health-related issues.
Normally compared to humans, pets have less of a sense of morality—that is, they know right from wrong—but if the pets are trained properly, the sense of morality might be evident.
Hence, we can say that the pets could act in particular unsanitary ways and bring you things you’re allergic to despite your best attempts to teach them to do otherwise. As a consequence, this piece will include essential information about pet allergies.
Let’s first talk about the idea of pet allergies. It is well known that your immune system can occasionally overreact when exposed to hair or other minute particles that have fallen from an animal’s body. Animal skin, hair, pee, and spit are some specific examples that should be mentioned.
The body’s immune system views them as potentially harmful “intruders,” much like bacteria or viruses. Any animal might potentially trigger an allergic response, but cats and dogs are the most common species. Allergies can also be triggered by rabbits, mice, birds, and large animals like horses.
Generally speaking, when a person comes in contact with animals, some people may develop allergies to them, but some individuals think that some furry animal species are hypoallergenic (won’t create allergy issues) since they don’t shed as much fur.
Yet, studies have shown that no fluffy animal is hypoallergenic, particularly in light of the fact that pet allergies go beyond the fur. Now the question is: who can have pet allergies? In this regard, it is very much known that these allergies are inheritable and can be coming from parents.
A human body is very unique; several breeds of furry animals may cause only slight symptoms or none at all. Healthcare professionals and researchers, however, are unable to precisely predict which breed will cause the least irritation.
However, it is acceptable that the animals that do not have fur, feathers, or shed any skin are least likely to evoke any pet-related allergic reaction. Pets like fish, turtles, frogs, and other amphibians are on the top list of animals that cause lesser hypersensitivities.
Frequently, the first thought of someone considering pet adoption is, “What would happen to me if I am allergic to this animal?” As a result, the first time you are exposed to a pet allergen, your body produces immunoglobulin E, which is then released when an allergic reaction is caused by the pet allergen (IgE).
In addition to other allergens, each IgE subtype has a particular class of pet allergens to which they are vulnerable. IgE antibodies in some people may exclusively respond to one specific animal.
Generally, patients display nasal inflammation (runny nose, stuffy nose, itchy eyes, watery eyes, shortness of breath), sniffling, dry, itchy skin, itchy mouth or oesophagus, wheezing, and an exacerbation of asthma-like symptoms.
It is also crucial to note that symptoms of pet allergies can often mirror those of common illnesses like the flu and the common cold. If a person has an allergy but is unsure of the cause, they should visit a medical centre, where staff will assist in identifying the problem.
Can allergies to pets make you tired?
Obviously, allergies to pets can lead to tiredness. Exhaustion may occur if IgE and histamine make nasal channel inflammation worse. It may be challenging to fall asleep and stay asleep if you have certain pet allergy symptoms like coughing and nasal congestion. If your sleep is restless or disrupted, you could feel fatigued.
How long does it take for symptoms to appear after being around animals?
Depending on how severely your pet’s allergen affects you, 15 to 30 minutes after coming into contact with a pet, symptoms of severe pet allergies may start to manifest. Mild pet allergy symptoms may appear a few hours to a few days after coming into contact with a pet.
Diagnosis and tests
See a doctor if you experience allergic reactions after being around dogs and cats. They could provide you with an allergist’s name. A doctor with expertise in allergies is known as an allergist. They can use specialised tests to find out whether you have allergies to your pet.
Pet allergy patients in Kashmir can get help at the “Kashmir Institute of Allergy and Sleep Sciences,” which is situated in Karan Nagar, Srinagar, J&K, in the Shah Complex next to the SMHS Hospital.
With a motto of proper patient satisfaction, their primary focus is on clinical care as well as research in allergy and sleep disorders. They were established to treat allergy and sleep patients using the most recent developments in diagnosis, treatment, and therapy. Before doing pet allergy testing, the allergist could ask you questions like,
Does your family have a history of pet allergies?
} Have you ever been told you have allergies?
} What signs do you now have?
} Which OTC (over the counter) medications do you take to address your symptoms?
} Which animal species expose you when your allergies start to act up?
In the modern world, various tests are available that can tell you whether you are allergic to any animal or not. These tests include the skin prick (scratch) test and the blood (IgE) test.
The skin-prick test involves the superficial pricking of your skin with minute amounts of purified allergen extracts, including extracts containing animal proteins. Although it can be done on the upper back, this is typically done on the forearm. After 15 minutes, your doctor or nurse checks your skin for indications of allergic reactions.
If you have a cat allergy, for instance, the spot where the cat extract was injected into your skin will turn red and itchy. Itching and redness are the two most typical adverse reactions to these skin tests. Usually, these side effects disappear after 30 minutes.
Occasionally, skin tests are impossible to perform; the alternative is a blood (IgE) test involving measuring the levels of IGE antibodies in the blood. You might have allergies to pets if your blood sample contains high concentrations of IgE antibodies. The IgE blood test results may not arrive at the lab for a week or more.
Can allergies to pets be cured?
Allergies to pets are unavoidable. You can use nasal corticosteroids, nasal antihistamines, and over-the-counter antihistamine medications to alleviate your symptoms. According to studies, using too many antihistaminic might cause adverse effects like sleepiness, drowsiness, mouth aches, headaches, dizziness, and coughing.
According to one study, depression rates were higher in people who used the antihistamines cetirizine and hydroxyzine. There hasn’t been any research done on how antihistamines in general affect mental problems, though.
Some people may find long-term relief from their pet allergies through immunotherapy (allergy shots). Your sensitivity to the allergen decreases as a result of the allergy shots in your body. Allergy shots for some people may help avoid symptoms of pet allergies even after they stop getting therapy.
The best approach for preventing pet allergies is to stay away from animals that trigger allergic responses. If it’s not possible for you avoid caressing, embracing, and kissing them. Also, it is advised that you keep your pet away from your bedroom and furnishings.
Pets should be regularly brushed outside of the home, bathed with pet soaps, and cared for by someone who is not allergic to animals. Rugs, carpets, and other surfaces should also be vacuumed often, ideally twice a week. If at all possible, install an air filter in your home and choose a HEPA-rated filter to get rid of as many pet allergens as you can.
Dr. Abrar Ul Haq Wani, Assistant Professor cum Junior Scientist, Dept. of Medicine, Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, Ludhiana, Punjab.
Dr. Shaikh Nasrul Islam, Scientist Biotechnology, R&D All Vet Diagnostic Solutions PVT LTD.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.