Question of the week from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Imunology website:
My Allergist tells me I am allergic to dogs and cats, but I have both at home and do not notice any increased symptoms there. Why is that?
Pets, particularly dogs and cats, tend to cause a lot of allergies. The pet allergens are found in the dander, urine and the saliva. Typical symptoms of hay fever include sneeze, runny nose, nasal congestion and itchy watery eyes. Asthma symptoms from allergens include wheeze, cough, shortness of breath and chest tightness. These symptoms are called the “early phase” of an allergic reaction.
Several hours later the “late phase” of an allergic reaction may occur, with increased inflammation in the nose for hay fever and in the lungs for asthma. Hay fever symptoms in the late phase may be more nasal congestion and drainage. Asthma symptoms in the late phase reaction may be more mucous production and chest tightness.
When a pet owner is exposed to a cat and/or dog on an ongoing basis, they may have an ongoing late phase reaction. While these symptoms may be more subtle, they are still important and should be taken seriously. Your Allergist will likely discuss avoidance measures with you, may prescribe medicines and may consider allergy shots, or immunotherapy. Just because you don’t notice increased symptoms around your pets, don’t be fooled into thinking they are not causing problems for you.