An animal dander allergy, or pet allergy, is an allergic reaction and hypersensitivity disorder to pet hair, dander, feces, and urine. But sweat, feathers, sebum and saliva can also trigger an animal hair allergy. Arguably the most common form of this pet allergy is related to cats. Allergic reactions to rabbits, dogs and birds are significantly less common.
What is an animal dander allergy?
Animal hair allergies are human allergic reactions to contact with the hair or feathers of a specific animal species. For kyphosis dictionary definitions, please visit foodanddrinkjournal.com.
The reaction can either only occur for one or a few animal species. However, multiple allergies against many different animal species are also known, which are collectively referred to as animal hair allergies.
The symptoms adapt to the typical allergic symptoms and cause, for example, a runny nose and heavy sneezing. Around 40% of all allergy sufferers suffer from an allergy to animal hair, among other things.
Strictly speaking, animal hair allergy is not a real allergy to the hair of the animal in question, but to allergens that are also found in saliva, urine or the dander of the animal species.
The allergic reaction is most often triggered by the allergy sufferer coming near the animal and inhaling the allergens in this way. An animal stall, for example, can be empty, and yet the faeces in uncleaned boxes are already enough to trigger allergic symptoms. Dust particles or hair that float in the air and are inhaled are often sufficient.
As with any other allergy, the allergens usually enter the body through the nasal mucous membranes and are unnecessarily classified as dangerous by the body. The human immune system therefore launches a strong defense against the allergen, which results in the symptoms. An allergy to animal dander can either be present at birth or it can develop spontaneously and seemingly without any apparent cause.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
An animal dander allergy can cause completely different symptoms depending on the patient or allergen. The most common are signs of illness that are similar to those of a cold. After contact with animal hair, the throat is often scratchy, and the mucous membranes of affected patients often swell.
This leads to a runny or stuffy nose. Many allergy sufferers also have to sneeze heavily and frequently. The eyes become red, itchy and watery. Numerous allergy sufferers complain of a dry, hacking cough after contact with an animal to which they are allergic. In more severe cases, shortness of breath or bronchial asthma can also occur. Those affected then complain of problems exhaling.
Depending on the predisposition and the type of contact with the allergy-triggering animal, symptoms on the skin are also observed. Then redness, swelling or even large-scale eczema appear. Symptoms on the skin are particularly common when the animal hair comes into contact with the skin for a long time and when the skin is already injured or diseased. Even small scratches on the skin caused by an animal can trigger the skin symptoms mentioned. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, problems with concentration or problems falling asleep are possible effects of an animal hair allergy.
If the animal dander allergy has existed since birth or is already known, the symptoms appear quickly after the first contact with an allergen. When entering an animal stall or when petting a pet, the allergic person begins to develop a severe runny nose, sneezing and possibly also developing skin redness.
Once the allergy sets in, which often happens with children, the patient can initially handle the animal for a while without any symptoms. The symptoms appear spontaneously and suddenly, direct contact with the animal intensifies them. The allergy test will produce a positive result even if it was negative a short time ago. After the symptoms first appear, the animal dander allergy will always make itself felt in the future whenever the patient comes close to the allergen or the carrier animal. In severe cases, more severe symptoms such as shortness of breath or asthma can develop over time.
As a rule, serious complications are not to be expected with an animal hair allergy. As long as the patient is aware of his condition, avoids the allergenic substances and has also learned how to react in the event of an acute attack, there is no serious danger to the health or even the life of the person concerned. Nonetheless, an animal dander allergy, even if treated, can worsen over time.
In these cases, symptoms such as a runny nose and skin reddening intensify, and shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting can also occur. However, serious complications can only be expected if the patient does not know that he is allergic to a certain pet and unexpectedly suffers a severe attack.
In these cases, in addition to the typical side effects, a panic attack can also occur, which is accompanied by shortness of breath and tachycardia. In the worst case, the person affected suffers a shock that can result in a life-threatening circulatory collapse. In this case, there is a risk of death for the patient.
In addition to physical symptoms, an animal hair allergy is also regularly associated with psychosocial problems. Separating a pet is very stressful for many people, and in the case of a close emotional bond, the separation can even lead to depression that requires therapy. In addition, there are often psychologically stressful arguments within the family when an animal is no longer tolerated in the shared living area due to an allergy or is even to be given away.
When should you go to the doctor?
Constant sneezing, runny nose and itchy skin in the vicinity of hairy animals are a signal that the affected person should have a medical examination. Most often, it is not a dangerous condition in which the patient’s breathing can be severely affected when exposed to the allergen. However, the diagnosis of animal hair allergy also means that the symptoms of the disease can only improve if contact with animals is avoided immediately. Exceptions are animal species or breeds that are harmless for people allergic to animal hair, as they have no hair or hair that does not cause allergy symptoms.
Although most of those affected will already suspect that they suffer from an animal dander allergy, a reliable diagnosis is important for two reasons. First of all, the doctor can rule out that it is another disease and that the occurrence in connection with contact with animals was coincidental. Furthermore, if an animal hair allergy is suspected, the doctor will also test for other potential allergenic substances, since allergies often occur together with others. As an affected person, you can be sure that you will not accidentally come into contact with another allergen that you did not know about before.
Treatment & Therapy
Treating any allergy involves avoiding contact with the allergen as much as possible. If you have a slight allergy to animal hair, keeping pets is not yet out of the question – daily cleaning of carpets, carpeted floors or textile pet equipment is necessary to keep the living space free of allergens. Another person should brush the animal regularly or clean its habitat in a manner appropriate to the species, so that dander or faeces cannot further aggravate the animal hair allergy.
In serious cases, the animal has to be handed over – for example, if the meticulous cleaning of the living space has not brought any improvement in the condition. Cats in particular must be handed over immediately if allergic reactions appear, because the allergens associated with them cannot be eliminated by normal cleaning. Other people must be notified of the pet dander allergy and not wear clothing that has dangerous pet dander attached to it.
In the case of animal hair allergies, no special aftercare is required. This is because the allergic symptoms subside as soon as the causative source is no longer within the patient’s reach. In principle, it is not possible to cure animal hair allergies. Depending on the severity of the allergic reaction, a mild allergy can be treated and suppressed with antiallergic drugs, even if the offending animal remains in the patient’s environment.
In most cases, however, the follow-up care is given to the extent that a constant inventory of the antiallergic therapy and the drugs used and their dosage is carried out. An allergist can assess and adjust the tests and the dosage of the drugs used. In the case of a severe allergy to animal dander, it is imperative that the patient no longer comes into contact with the trigger.
If there is no longer contact with the animal hair, the symptoms disappear completely within a short time. After acute treatment, it is generally not to be expected that the patient will require special follow-up care. It is your own responsibility to ensure that contact with the trigger does not occur again, as the symptoms of the disease would immediately reappear in full.
You can do that yourself
In everyday life, symptoms of an animal dander allergy are best avoided if the corresponding allergen is avoided. However, this is not always possible, because contact with different animals can also arise unexpectedly. In the area of self-help, however, those affected by an animal hair allergy can still do a lot to alleviate their individual symptoms.
For example, there are antihistamines available in the pharmacy without a prescription in the form of juices or tablets, which are also well tolerated when used as intended within a reasonable time frame. Such products can also be taken before an expected contact with animal hair in order to avoid the typical symptoms of the allergy. The so-called desensitization therapy is often helpful for everyday life. The specialist doctor can advise whether such a therapy is suitable for the individual complaints.
Since an allergy is a sometimes severe reaction of the immune system, there is no way in the event of an allergic shock to treat it without medical help. Precisely because an allergic shock can also cause the airways to swell, those affected must be able to assess their symptoms well. Friends and relatives should also be informed here in order to be able to act quickly in everyday life in an acute case. A severe allergic shock is always a medical emergency that requires immediate medical attention.