Posts Tagged ‘pet allergies’

What are grass allergies?

During warm weather, our dog likes to spend time sitting in the grass under a shade tree. Sometimes, she’ll be allergies, grass pollenoutside for hours. We suspect she loves it because often she’ll stare blankly at us when we try to coax her indoors.

Once inside, however, the licking begins. Our dog is likely allergic to grass pollen. Seasonal allergies are common in pets but symptoms flare as skin irritation instead of the sneezing and itchy, watery eyes that humans experience.

Grass allergy season is strongest in late spring and summer. The pollen can be spread by wind and when the lawn is mowed. One challenge with grass is that airborne pollen from other plants can fall onto blades of grass and slide into the ground where it can stick to shoes or paws and be brought into the house.

If you or your child plays sports outside in the grass, you’re likely to get stuck with something irritating that could make you sneeze. And the skin irritation that animals experience? Humans can react that way as well. Some people will break out in hives and, in rare cases, can even have an anaphylactic reaction.

“Grass is hard to avoid so it’s important to recognize the allergy and be prepared for symptoms,” says Ed Neuzil, Jr., ARNP-BC, PhD, FAANP and owner of the Allergy,

Sinus and Asthma Family Health Center in Lady Lake, Fla. “The best way to stay symptom-free is to avoid exposure and stay inside. However, an over-the-counter anti-histamine can provide relief if you so start to experience a runny nose, itchy eyes or skin irritation.”

Neuzil also suggested taking off your shoes once in the house so you don’t track it throughout and also consider washing your clothes and hair once inside to rinse out any irritants that may stick to you. And your pets? Wash their paws, too.

 

Give your immune system a workout

Years ago, it was thought that by protecting ourselves and our children from allergens, we would prevent development of allergies and the irritating symptoms that accompany them.

However, some recent studies indicate that living in a “clean bubble” may actually be detrimental.

The thinking is allergies and asthma are more prevalent in our society –especially among children–because our immune systems are not exposed to bacteria, germs and allergens which our bodies need to practice fighting off.

Some scientists believe the use of hand sanitizers and excessive cleanliness contribute to the increase in asthma, allergies and autoimmune disorders in a theory called the “hygiene hypothesis.”

Recently the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology began recommending parents to bring pets into their homes so that the children are exposed to the dander in animal fur so that the kids’ immune systems develop and fortify. Children’s immune system develop throughout their grow span and continue to develop throughout their teens and in some cases early twenties.

pet allergies, immune system development, allergens, germs, bacteria

Some experts believe exposing children to pet dander at an early age helps build up immunities to prevent allergy development

Ed Neuzil, ARNP, PhD and owner of the Allergy, Sinus and Asthma Family Health Center in Lady Lake, Florida suggests comparing building the immune system to working out.

“If the exposure is too great and we aren’t ready, we get symptoms. It’s just like overdoing it during when we first start exercising,” said Neuzil. “However, by exposing ourselves to allergens, germs and other irritants a little at a time, we can build and strengthen our immune system so that when we experience a large exposure, our immune systems can better protect us.”

While many of cringe at the thought of letting our children get dirty or exposing them to a classroom of other sniffling, sneezing and coughing kids, there is a happy medium which experts say we should aim for: common sense.

It is important to keep our homes and surroundings hygienic but, except in situations of extreme risk, you don’t have to sanitize everything. Remember that our amazing bodies have immune systems that, after a good workout, will do the job of keeping us healthy.

Developing allergies later in life

I think I’m allergic to cats.

cat allergies, cat dander, nasal spray, saline spray, allergy relief

Some adults may find they become allergic to their furry friends later in life.

I know I’m not alone but what is strange is that I’m in my mid-40’s and have never had any trouble with felines – at least not the sneezing and sniffles trouble.

This realization came last week while taking care of our neighbors’ cat while they were away on vacation. They were gone for a week and their normally aloof cat suddenly wanted my company. I was happy to oblige until my nose started itching, I began sneezing and I even felt my throat close up.

Fortunately, I have an herbal-enhanced nasal spray that I use daily. I don’t have any chronic sinus problems but I find that regular use of the saline spray helps keep my sinuses clear and refreshed for when I am exposed to airborne pollutants.

The saline nasal spray helped immediately by rinsing out the dander so that I could tolerate cuddling with him until the neighbors came home.

Now, I have lived with dogs for most of my life and, thankfully, do not experience any discomfort other than when our dog spends time outside during allergy season and gets pollen in her fur. One of my roommates even had a cat but that was more than 20 years ago and I haven’t been exposed to a feline for extended periods of time since.

A study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found that the risk of cat dander allergies is lower if you had a cat as a child. It also found that if you have other preexisting allergies to other substances, it increases the risk of cat allergies.

Other recent studies have indicated the same that when children are exposed to potential allergens at an early age, they are likely to build up immunities that prevent allergic reactions.

Since my neighbors are now home, I’m pretty sure the cat will resume his aloof behavior so I won’t need to see additional insight from my medical practitioner.

Still it was eye-opening to learn that adults can develop allergies and that recognizing it and acting quickly can be the best way to avoid discomfort.