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What are some ways I can manage my cat allergy?

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Question
I have a cat allergy. Am I only affected by it if I breathe in cat dander? Do I have to avoid contact at all cost? I was wondering if wearing a N95 mask around my cat will prevent my allergic reaction.
Answer

I am sorry to hear about your cat allergy. The major cat allergens are in the dander, saliva, and urine. So contact with the cat has the potential to cause itchy skin or even localized hives. The more likely symptoms are going to be respiratory. If you have asthma, living with a cat may worsen asthma. If you do not have asthma, the most likely symptoms will be nasal and or eye symptoms. I would guess the most common symptoms would be postnasal drip and chronic nasal congestion. This can worsen at night. Cat allergens are very β€œlight” and β€œsticky” so they can stay airborne in your home for long periods of time. They can stick to carpet and furniture. So wearing an N95 would only be helpful if you wore it the entire time you are in your house. A better option would be to discuss treatment options with a board-certified allergist. This may include mediation and/or allergen immunotherapy (allergy shots).

Categories
Allergy, Pet Allergy
Answered by

Douglas T. Johnston D.O. FAAAAI, FACAAI

Reviewed and Answered

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As mentioned above, a study I once read that was contributed by www.lung assoc about information for pet owners that suffer from pet dander said that the most common allergy caused by cats is a protein from cats that is dried saliva containing allergens that  may flake off from an animal’s fur and become airborne. Their recommendation was a Purifier that does not "try to trap" the airborne allergens which is impossible but to look for one that drops the the allergens, and other airborne contaminants from the breathing space that can then be vacuumed.

No one likes to say this to people.. Doctors don't like to say it, but I got so ill from living with cats I was allergic to that I really wish I heard it earlier than I finally did. Now my case was severe-- but it didn't start so severe.. I took a medication called Singulair and it worked so well I thought it was magic, I had like no reactions. I moved in with my then boyfriend who had cats after starting it (I had went to my doctor asking if there was something I could take because my then- boyfriend had cats and we wanted to live together. I wanted to l+ ). A year later I started developing asthma and congestion that worsened over time. I started to have to go to the ER. Prednisone. Wean on prednisone. ER. Thought.. Could this be my cat allergy coming back? I tried everything in the universe to keep the dander out if my room, low in the house. Doc finally says I shouldn't live with the cats. My now-ex/ newborns-father wont find homes for them. I realize I cannot keep living like this and the baby and I move out back to my parents house. I left some clothes in now-ex's closet (that I said I didn't need and were covered in dander) he comes shoving them into my and the babys tiny room at my parents even though I tell him not to... I am so sick and coughing I cant stop him. That night I ended up coughing and wheezing so bad I have my dad drive ne to the ER... Find out I had a heart attack ( at age 26 ) nearly orphaning my newborn because allergic blood cells called eosinophils had infiltrated into my organs including my heart. Find out my eosinophil level had been extremely high for quite a while -- no one told me this before. No warnings. Find out through heart biopsy I have all these eosinophil binflammatory blood cells in my heart and am diagnosed with a severe allergic disease called churg-strauss syndrone which is increasingly being tied to the nedication Singulair. Told later by doctors that I shouldn't have lived with cats if I was allergic to them. Coulda told me sooner? No one said that. No doctor wants to say find a home for the cats. They lose patients like that. So they give all these made up ways to try and lessen dander that no study finds works even close enough to stop allergic reactions. It just isn't worth your life and health. It isn't worth not being able to breathe. Your cat wouldn't even want that for you. These medications they have if they do SEEM to help actually cover up symptoms and sometimes cause your body to hold more allergens inside your tissues and blood vessels and organs because you arent sneezing or coughing them out anymore. Chronic illnesses develop. My brother lives with a cat he is allergic to and he ended up developing asthma. He saw ehat happened to me. Doesn't care. He gets respiratory infections all the time. Hasn't been able to have kids. Needs inhalers all the time. People die from asthma. So yeah even if you dont develop a worse chronic disease like mine-- asthma alone is no joke. And it does happen-- people do develop worse autoimmune allergic immune diseases.. I nearly died and messed up my immune system so bad that I might be on some level of prednisone forever, that my allergic reactions are off the charts, that my heart is permanently damaged. You do not want to chronically expose yourself to something your allergic to. It isn't nice to hear but I wish someone would have told me that BEFORE all the bad things happened. Doctors don't want to say it and might not until doomsday... But... You should re-home the cat. Work on clearing your home of dander. It takes time to get dander out.. Lots of cleaning, carpet removal, and 6 months of airing out to clear the dander out. And you'll need people who arent allergic to help because you don't want to be exposed to it flying in the air during the process. If you must, you should wear a n95 when cleaning and shower right after because when the skin is exposed to allergens it can cause issues to and the n95s often have leaks-- stuff gets in and in your eyes too. But once your home is clear if dander you will start healing. And later on the down line... Years later... if you do get immunotherapy shots and retrain your immune system.. then stop the shots and it still stays good.. and then do another skin test and don't test positive... And spend time around them and no reactions... Then maybe you could try fostering one. That would be a responsible way to approach it that respects your health because you deserve good health! Im not a doctor. But I know what Im talking about and I know I wished I was there to tell me it back in time.

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