My Cat And My Allergies And Asthma

A number of my patients own pets, specifically cats. And they, or their children may be allergic to Mr. Whiskers but are loathe to give them away. So there are a few things to consider with living with a pet.

According to study conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “more than half of asthma cases in the US are linked to allergies, with sensitivity to cats responsible for 29% of allergy-related asthmas.”

“The findings would seem to indicate that exposure to cats increases asthma risk, but other studies have suggested exposure early in life may actually protect children from developing cat allergies in the first place,” says WebMD.

In a related article, Darryl C. Zeldin, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) says “we are not telling people to get rid of their cats. What we can say from this study is that people with documented cat allergies have an increased risk for developing asthma.”

When families want to have both children and pets, Todd Green, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh points out in NBC, that “it might make sense to get the cat or dog first when planning a family because a recent study found that kids who grew up in a home with both a cat and a dog were less likely to develop an allergy.”

And in another interesting article I read, by Allergy and Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics, even if you get rid of your cat, don’t think the allergy will suddenly disappear. “The allergen load typically takes as long as four to six months to reach that of non-cat homes. It has been shown that cat allergen may persist in mattresses for years after a cat has been removed from the home, so new bedding is recommended.”

So if you decide to keep Mr. Whiskers, I suggest you do the following. Get rid of wall-to-wall carpeting. Hardwood floors are easier to clean. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter, because normal vacuums spread more cat dander in the air than they pick up. Keep the animal outside for as much time as possible or keep it out of sleeping areas of your house.

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