One in ten Americans has a pet allergy, with the cat as the most common culprit. Many people mistakenly think that the cat’s fur causes the allergy, but it is the proteins in the cat’s saliva, urine and dander that trigger reactions.
The immune system should simply ignore these proteins, but the body mistakes them as dangerous invaders and attacks them. Allergy symptoms are the results of the body’s war on these allergens.
The following are common symptoms of cat allergies:
- Skin problems (hives or eczema)
- Swollen and itchy eyes
- Wheezing or asthma
- Hay fever (runny or stuffed-up nose)
If you are allergic to cats, you may notice symptoms developing immediately after contact with a cat, but it may take up to a few hours for symptoms to manifest.
Your allergy doctor can review your medical history and perform an allergy test to diagnose your cat allergy. Your doctor may conduct a skin or blood test, but skin tests are generally considered to be the most accurate.
Your doctor may recommend any of the following:
- Avoidance – If your cat is making you miserable, you might consider finding another home for it. If you don’t want to part with your cat, your physician may recommend that you establish pet-free zones in your house and install HEPA filters.
- Medications – Your doctor may prescribe over-the-counter antihistamines, nasal sprays, decongestants, or steroids to mitigate your symptoms.
- Allergy immunotherapy – Allergy immunotherapy offers a lasting solution because it treats the source of the problem, not just its symptoms. It is available through allergy shots or sublingual allergy drops. Talk to an allergy doctor in Scottsdale, Mesa, or Phoenix for more information.