How Do Pet Allergens Occur
Pet allergens are very light weight and small. They remain suspended in the air for a long time, much longer than allergens from cockroaches or dust mites. Because of their microscopic size and jagged shape, pet allergens easily stick to furniture, bedding, fabrics and many items carried into and out of the home. Animal dander is easily spread through the home and out to public places like schools and hospitals. 1 They can be found even in homes and buildings without pets. 1
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Where Is Cat Dander Found
While cat allergens are present in the animal’s saliva, urine, and dander, they can become airborne and linger suspended in air for long periods.1,3 Plus, they can end up in myriad environments including those with or without cats, such as schools, day-care centers, households, and transportation facilities.1 These allergens also can cling to many surfaces, such as bedding, clothing, and upholstered furniture, making them ubiquitous.1,7 And unfortunately, cat allergens can cause year-round symptoms and may remain in an environment for months without degrading.4
Prepare for your next visit with your healthcare provider.
Class 3 Allergy To Dogs
A Class 3 allergy spans IgE antibody levels of 3.51 to 17.50.
People with a Class 3 allergy are slightly more allergic than those with a Class 2 allergy. As such, they may experience more moderate allergic reaction symptoms.
Their allergies may also be more difficult to control.
Some people with a Class 3 dog allergy may need a prescription medication if they own a dog. Its best to talk to an allergist or general practitioner about what treatments and therapies are best.
Its also important to make sure the dog is bathed and groomed regularly.
People with Class 3 allergies should keep their dogs out of their bedroom. They may also benefit from investing in an air purifier.
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Be Diligent To Control Allergies
Cleaning pet dander is an endless battle that is never truly won. To help minimize allergic reactions, remember to take your allergy medication and keep a few areas in your house, such as your bedroom, as a cat-free zone. Keeping up with your cleaning routine, and the cats grooming routine is generally effective to keep dander at bay.
What Causes Cat Allergies
The immune systemâs job is to fight invaders like harmful germs and toxins that put your health at risk. Those who experience an allergic reaction to cats and pets have an over-sensitive immune system thatâs reacting to proteins found in pet urine, saliva, or dead skin cells .
There are multiple ways someone can come into contact with irritating pet allergensâ the substances that lead to an allergic reaction. Pet allergens can cling to clothing, furniture, and wallsâsometimes staying there for months. This can meanâfor exampleâthat if youâre allergic to cats and you touch a couch where a cat was sitting, then you rub your eye, you may experience an allergic reaction.
Many people are surprised to hear that the allergic reaction doesnât come from the dog or cat hair itself. Instead, the hair collects the urine, dander, and saliva that cause the allergies to kick in.
Pet allergens can also become airborne after vacuuming, petting, or grooming. After the allergens are airborne, they can stay aloft for some time, leading to sneezing or itchy/watery eyes for the allergic person.
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How To Combat Cat Dander
If youve been diagnosed with a cat allergy and have a cat, dont fret. Just because an allergy has been diagnosed does not mean you need to get rid of your feline family member! There are methods for combatting cat dander in your home.
Make sure to keep your cat well-groomed and brushed regularly to remove dander, Barrack said. If your cat isnt game for a DIY grooming session, bring him to a professional groomer. Besides making sure your feline is primped, its equally as important to keep up with home cleanliness. Barrack suggests trying to eliminate as much dust as possible and vacuum pet hair regularly. Home air filtration systems can also help decrease the amount of dander in ones home, she added.
Characteristics such as the length of a cats hair, gender and the amount of time a cat spends indoors are not associated with cat allergen levels, Martin says, so banishing your cat to the outdoors for a few hours daily or buying a cat with shorter hair may not be the best bet for combatting allergies. However, there is one aspect associated with allergen levels: number of cats. Homes with more than one cat have higher levels of cat allergens, he said.
Class 1 Allergy To Dogs
A Class 1 allergy indicates that there were some IgE antibodies discovered, but that they arent present enough to qualify as a positive test. This refers to levels between 0.35 and 0.70.
When a person has a Class 1 allergy, this means that their blood test was inconclusive. Sufficient antibodies are present to indicate that they have a sensitivity.
However, a sensitivity isnt the same as a full-blown allergy. Most people with a Class 1 rating would not be considered to have an allergy.
However, their reactions to the allergen may become more pronounced if theyre also exposed to substances they truly are allergic to.
For example, a dog owner might not be allergic to dogs, but might be allergic to pollen. In the spring, they may find themselves sneezing more often when in the room with their dog.
Its possible that their sensitivity to dog fur has manifested as an allergy, but the real trigger is the pollen outside.
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Cat Allergy Blood Test
The Cat Allergy blood test is used to determine if a person may have an allergic reaction by looking for IgE Antibodies to cat hair or dander . About 10% of people in the United States have pet allergies and cat allergies are the most common. Common allergy symptoms can include coughing, wheezing, sneezing, red or itchy eyes, an outbreak of a rash or hives and a runny or stuffy nose. Because many allergies can cause the same or similar symptoms, blood testing can help a person determine the specific cause of their reaction.
Once the source of an allergic reaction has been identified, a person’s doctor may recommend medication to help control allergies. In some cases, it may be necessary to take steps to limit your exposure to the source of your allergy or remove it from your living environment entirely.
For additional testing options, please see our Allergy Testing Category.
Turnaround for the cat allergy test is typically 3-5 business days.
Note: Result turn around times are an estimate and are not guaranteed. Our reference lab may need additional time due to weather, holidays, confirmation/repeat testing, or equipment maintenance.
How Are Cat Allergies Treated
Cat allergies can usually be controlled with standard allergy drugs. Your doctor might recommend:
- Antihistamines, which are available over-the-counter like cetirizine , diphenhydramine , fexofenadine , and loratadine or some antihistamines such as azelastine come in a nasal spray
- , like over-the-counter pseudoephedrine or allergy drugs that contain the ingredient pseudoephedrine such as Allegra-D, Claritin-D, or Zyrtec-D
Nasal steroid sprays, which affect allergy or asthma symptoms in various ways steroid sprays are a common treatment for allergies. Budesonide , fluticasone , and triamcinolone are steroid sprays that are available over the counter.
Allergy shots are another option. Allergy shots are not always effective, and completing treatment can take years. Theyre also not used for children under age 5. But they can be a huge help to some people. Ask your doctor if they make sense for you.
Unfortunately, theres no way to prevent an allergy. Some studies have shown that exposure to pets as a young child seems to reduce the risk of developing pet allergies later. On the other hand, a child who already has allergic tendencies may get worse with exposure to a pet.
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How Do I Interpret Allergy Test Results
by Health Professional
Recently a reader posted this question here at HealthCentral.com, saying that her child had results like this: Trees 2++ Grass 4++++. She wanted to know what the numbers mean.
First, let me say that interpreting allergy test results is a tricky business. These tests are notorious for their false positives. That means that the test indicates you are allergic to something, but in fact, you are not. That can definitely be confusing for all concerned
Types of Allergy TestsAlso, not all allergy tests are the same, so their results differ as well. The traditional type of allergy test is a skin test or scratch test. This kind of test has been around for decades.
It involves placing a drop of liquid consisting of a possible allergen, such as cat dander, on the skin. Then, the allergist scratches or pr.icks the skin to enable the solution to enter the skin.
If a red, raised itchy area called a wheal develops at the spot, it’s a good sign that you may be allergic to that allergen. This is called a positive reaction.
Two other types of skin tests may also be done:
Intradermal test, where the allergen solution is actually injected into the skin often used to followup scratch testing.It’s more sensitive, but also produces more false-positives.
Skin patch test, where a pad impregnated with the allergen solution is taped to your skin for a day or two.
But generally, the higher the number, the more sensitive you are to that particular allergen.
What Causes The Allergies
Cats can cause allergic reactions in people but the exact causes of the irritation are not clear for everyone.
Some people may think hair or fur causes the allergies, but hair cannot cause irritation in humans.
Cat dander contains a protein known as the glycoprotein Fel d1,which is the main cause of allergies. Cat urine and saliva may havetraces of this protein, but not enough to cause irritation.
The dust and different pollens that may lodge in your cats fur may also cause allergies.
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How Is Allergy Testing Performed On A Blood Test
Radioallergosorbent testing is an outdated form of allergy testing that involves measuring specific allergic antibodies from a blood sample. While RAST is still available, newer forms of blood testing for allergies involves the use of enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays , which involves the binding of allergic antibodies in a blood sample to an allergen, which results in a color change when a developer is added. The darkness of this color change can be measured and translated into a concentration or amount of allergic antibody in the blood sample. While the quality of allergy blood testing has improved in recent years, it is still limited in the number of tests available, as well as the smaller amount of minor allergens present in a particular test .
Allergy blood testing has recently become more useful in the diagnosis and management of food allergies, however. While skin testing to foods can give a sense, based on the size of the reaction, whether a person is truly allergic to the food, allergy blood testing actually measures the amount of allergic antibody to the food. This value can help determine is a child has possibly outgrown the food allergy, for example.
The high cost of allergy blood testing, as opposed to the less expensive skin test, as well as the delay in results of days to weeks, also makes it less desirable than skin testing. Skin testing also continues to be the better test, with less false-positive and false-negative results.
Class 2 Allergy To Dogs
A Class 2 allergy is a positive result, with IgE antibodies in the blood between 0.71 and 3.50. Its the least severe conclusively positive result.
When a person has a Class 2 allergy, they can expect their allergic reactions to be mild and easily treated. Its common for people to experience a runny nose and watery eyes.
Other symptoms, like coughing and shortness of breath, may occur less frequently.
A person with a Class 2 allergy to dogs would generally only experience allergies after coming into physical contact with a dog.
They may also have a mild allergic reaction if theres a great deal of dog dander in their environment.
However, these allergies can generally be treated through over-the-counter medications, without the need for immunotherapy or prescription medications.
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Class 4 Allergy To Dogs
A Class 4 allergy is the first severe allergy class, with IgE levels of 17.51 to 50.
People with severe allergies should generally not have pets. Class 4 allergy sufferers may experience symptoms not only around dogs, but also around people who have recently been around dogs.
Theyre particularly sensitive to dander in the air, even when theres no actual dog present.
Severe symptoms tend to include shortness of breath and skin rashes. When around dogs, allergy sufferers might find themselves wheezing.
Severe allergies can be dangerous for people with asthma, as the allergic reaction can trigger intense asthma attacks.
People with Class 4 allergies should talk to their doctors about how to handle their allergy.
How Long Does Cat Dander Remain In A Home After The Cats Are Gone
For homes with sensitive individuals, the best way to protect indoor air quality is to remove the animal from the home. However, pet allergens may stay in the home for months after the pet is gone because the allergens remain in house dust. Allergy and asthma symptoms may take weeks or even months to improve.
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What Is Skin Testing
Skin testing is the oldest and most reliable form of allergy testing. This form of testing has been performed for 100 years and continues to be the testing of choice for the diagnosis of allergic disease. Testing begins with a prick, puncture or scratch method, which involves the placing a drop of the allergen in question on the skin and abrading the skin with a needle.
After the skin is scratched, the tests take about 15 minutes to develop. There may be many skin tests performed, depending on the persons age, symptoms and other factors. A positive skin test appears as a raised, red itchy bump, similar to a mosquito bite. The test is compared to the positive and negative controls, which are 2 other skin tests placed along with the allergens to be tested.
The positive control is usually histamine, which will cause a raised, itchy bump in anyone who is not taking an antihistamine medication, such as Benadryl. It is not possible to be allergic to histamine, as this chemical is present in the body. A positive histamine skin test means that any skin tests performed at that same time with a negative result are in fact, truly negative .
A skin test represents allergic disease in miniature. It is a useful tool for people to see their positive skin test to cat dander, for example, to truly understand that they are allergic to cats. This educational experience is much more dramatic than handing a person a report of a positive cat allergy test performed using a blood test.
How To Test For Cat Allergy
Upon visiting an allergy specialist, they will perform a skin-prick test to diagnose a cat allergy. This involves placing a small extract of cat allergen on to your skin. Your skin is then pricked so the liquid can seep beneath the surface.
You can also order at-home allergy testing kits, which you can perform yourself and send off to a lab for the results. These tests check for the number of cat-hair-specific IgE antibodies in your blood, telling you whether you are sensitised to cat dander and, therefore, possibly allergic to cats.
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Quick And Effective Tips To Remove Pet Dander
As we mentioned, pets with fur or feathers tend to shed dander and allergens. Unfortunately, with pets, you cannot get rid of dander completely. But here are some quick fixes to help reduce pet dander.
Steam clean: cleaning carpets, furniture, and curtains might help remove pet dander. Steam cleaning the floors also helps clean them deeply. You can also use a sticky lint roller to quickly remove pet dander from any type of surface.
Bath your pet regularly: when you bath a pet, the extra fur or skin flecks will get flushed down the drain.
Get a good air purifier: many pet owners think air purifiers are overrated, but that is not true. A HEPA filter can genuinely change your life and filter the pet dander from your homes air. A good pet air purifier will drastically change the quality of your life by helping you breathe and sleep better. It also helps keep the particular pet odor at bay.
Get professional help: if nothing helps and your allergies are getting worse, you need to get the air ducts cleaned by professionals. A professional air duct cleaning service will remove dander built-up and thoroughly clean the air ducts from allergens. This means removing any, and all types of pet dander from everywhere.
What Is The Best Treatment For Pet Allergy
The best treatment is to avoid contact with cats or dogs or the areas where they live. Keep pets out of your home. If possible, try to avoid visiting homes with pets that you are allergic to. Avoiding cats and dogs may give you enough relief that you will not need medicine.
Keeping the pet outdoors will help, but will not rid the house of pet allergens. Another option is to choose pets that do not have fur or feathers. Fish, snakes or turtles are some choices.
Pet allergy can be a social problem making it difficult to visit friends and relatives who have cats and dogs . This may be especially troublesome for children who cannot participate in activities at the home of friends. Talk to your doctor about possible use of medication before these social exposures and specific measures to take after the exposure.
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