Allergists such as Dr. Clifford Bassett, director of Allergy & Asthma Care of New York and ACAAI fellow, understand the plight of the allergic pet-lover.
There are several lifestyle modifications that can provide some relief, he said. Bassett recommends getting a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate absorption) air filter, which can suck up irritating particles from dogs and cats, as well as a HEPA-type vacuum cleaner.
Carpeting collects pet dander, so linoleum, wood, tile are preferred on floors. Otherwise, frequent vacuuming, dusting and other cleaning can help make a room more allergy-friendly.
Designating the bedroom as pet-free can also help, Bassett said. Of course, that can be difficult for those of us who like to cuddle with our furry friends.
To treat symptoms, a doctor may prescribe antihistamines, prescription nasal sprays and eye drops, as well as inhalers for asthma. Depending on the person and the circumstances, managing oneself this way may be enough.
A longer-term solution is allergy shots, which can be effective in building up a tolerance to pets. They are particularly helpful when avoidance and medications are not successful, Bassett said. But the shots are an investment — you need to get them for at least three years, although improvement shows after about six months of weekly injections, according to ACAAI.
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