Allergies: For love of pets, and their owners by Elizabeth Landau, CNN

cnn-logo-220In a new report by Elizabeth Landau of CNN, Dr Clifford Bassett recommends some allergy relief strtaegies for allegic pet owners. Here is an excerpt:

Allergists such as Dr. Clifford Bassett, director of Allergy & Asthma Care of New York and ACAAI fellow, understand the plight of the allergic pet-lover.
There are several lifestyle modifications that can provide some relief, he said. Bassett recommends getting a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate absorption) air filter, which can suck up irritating particles from dogs and cats, as well as a HEPA-type vacuum cleaner.
Carpeting collects pet dander, so linoleum, wood, tile are preferred on floors. Otherwise, frequent vacuuming, dusting and other cleaning can help make a room more allergy-friendly.

Designating the bedroom as pet-free can also help, Bassett said. Of course, that can be difficult for those of us who like to cuddle with our furry friends.
To treat symptoms, a doctor may prescribe antihistamines, prescription nasal sprays and eye drops, as well as inhalers for asthma. Depending on the person and the circumstances, managing oneself this way may be enough.

A longer-term solution is allergy shots, which can be effective in building up a tolerance to pets. They are particularly helpful when avoidance and medications are not successful, Bassett said. But the shots are an investment — you need to get them for at least three years, although improvement shows after about six months of weekly injections, according to ACAAI.

Ronald Johansen took allergy shots just to be able to have cats around, but said his dog allergy is so bad that he couldn’t tolerate that therapy.
How well people respond to this immunotherapy depends on how sensitive the person was initially, and how well they’re able to avoid environmental triggers, ACAAI said.

“I like to tell people, we’ll do the shots if avoidance is not appropriate or avoidance is not possible,” Bassett said.
Some people with allergies and asthma have such bad reactions that they should really avoid the offending animal altogether, experts say, particularly children who have severe asthma attacks.

The Johansens are still exploring the animal kingdom, but for now they have a combination that’s healthy for everyone. Their current cast of characters: Two cats, a chinchilla and a parrot, in addition to four human children.

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