Allergens: Your Pets and You

The itchy and watery eyes, the red and inflamed nose, the congestion and the dull headache at the top of your head — a lot of us have been there, and one thing is unanimously known: allergies are not fun.

Don't let your allergies keep you from spending time with a furry friend you love.

Don’t let your allergies keep you from spending time with a furry friend you love.

According to WebMD, 55 percent of Americans are allergic to something, whether it’s a food, a plant, or an animal. About 10 percent of the population is allergic to animals. So what does this mean for our lovely pet owners who happen to have allergies?

Two professors at the Downtown campus shed some light on the issue.

“Children who are outside a fair amount are exposed more to allergens and might develop more of a tolerance than other children,” ASU exercise and wellness professor Kathy Campbell says.

“Studying allergies is an inexact science. Anti-histamines aren’t a permanent solution, and studies show that allergies are increasing with each new generation. There’s not really one thing that triggers allergens in people,” ASU biology professor John Olson says.

Both professors agree that keeping children in too sterile of an environment with little, if any, interaction with the outdoors and a little bit of dirt could be a potential cause of pet allergies in our community. Sometimes being too clean can be an issue! This is not to say that you should overcompensate and get too dirty. But, like Olson mentioned, it’s about striking a balance or maintaining a golden mean.

Now that you have some background on the dimensional issue of allergies, you might be wondering how to help relieve symptoms you experience. There are solutions to alleviating the misery you may be in due to pet allergies without taking medication. By all means, if you need medication, please take it — but I’ve highlighted a few ways you can help your allergies without popping pills.

Believe it or not, giving your pet a bath and brushing its fur can make all the difference. Oftentimes, when done once a week, it greatly cuts down the amount of suffering allergic people endure simply because airborne allergens are then not at an all-time high.

Not allowing the pet to go into certain areas of the house is also a good way to combat allergies. This way, your body can become immune to the allergens without being overwhelmed as you are able to go into your “safe zone” where the animal isn’t allowed.

Vacuuming is probably a more obvious option to help keep allergens at bay, but it’s still important to follow through with. All the excess fur that collects along with dust will just irritate your nasal passages if left unvacuumed.

Make sure to keep your pet supplies away from any sort of air conditioner/heater. The last thing you want is for these allergens to be spread throughout the house via recirculation. This applies to anything the animal uses regularly, such as litter boxes, chew toys, beds and other items in direct contact with the animal.

Allergies are such a multifaceted issue with so many different causes. They really show that no two human beings are exactly alike when it comes to what can trigger allergies, how to successfully treat allergies when they arise and how to maintain an allergy-free lifestyle.

The downtown Phoenix community especially needs to be aware of how to maintain an allergy-free lifestyle just because many of us live in small areas, and if we do, in fact, have the pet/allergy combo, we need to be aware of ways to deal with this very widespread issue.

Stay healthy, my friends!

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