People who have pet allergy will not benefit just by removing the pet from the house, concluded allergists at the annual scientific meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) in Boston, November 3-8. Using immunotherapy i.e. allergy shots along with environmental changes will help control pet allergy symptoms like sneezing.
This is a common allergy and the allergen is present everywhere, even at places where there are no pets. Case studies have shown that cat dander is present even in places where a cat has never set a paw. Allergists call this as 'passive' exposure because the dander travels to school on student's clothing and backpacks. Therefore asthmatic children who are allergic to cats show an increase in asthma symptoms if they have many classmates who have pet cats.
For pet lovers here are some ways to reduce the exposure to allergen- Remove the animal from the bedroom to create an 'allergy free zone'. Use bleach to reduce the allergen on clothing or bedding. Tightly woven microfiber fabric captures small cat and dog allergens, so cover mattress and pillows with them. The use of whole-house filtration on central heating/ventilation, air conditioning systems (HVAC) is recommended. Carpeted surfaces should be limited; instead opt for hard-surface flooring, like wood or tile. Leather furniture should be replaced with upholstery. Bathe the animals regularly.
Immunotherapy is the most effective treatment as it treats the underlying cause rather than suppressing the allergy symptoms. However mild symptoms can be managed with over-the-counter and prescription antihistamines or nasal sprays. Immunotherapy works like a vaccine. It exposes the individual to small amounts of the allergen which increase gradually. This helps to build up the immune system's tolerance. But allergists warn that keeping pets might not always be the best option for everyone, especially in cases where the allergy is severe enough to trigger an asthma attack and require hospitalization.