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Six Common Myths About Pet Allergies

Six Common Myths About Pet Allergies – According to The Humane Society, 62 percent of American households have at least one pet. Yet an estimated 31 million Americans are allergic to animals, including up to 30 percent of those who have asthma. For these people, congestion, sneezing, runny nose and other allergic symptoms occur whenever they are exposed to common household pets.

Six Common Myths About Pet Allergies
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Six Common Myths About Pet Allergies

It helps to understand how pets can trigger allergies and what steps can help protect you. Below are six common misconceptions about pet allergies. By knowing the truth about these myths, you can take action to live comfortably with the pets in your life.

Myth #1:

It’s only pet hair—especially cat hair—that causes allergies to flare up.

Not true. Pet hair is a nuisance and causes allergies, as it contains saliva or other pet proteins. Allergic reactions to pets are actually caused by pet proteins contained in pet dander such as microscopic skin flakes, and also in saliva and urine. Overactive immune systems in those with allergies attack these otherwise harmless substances.

Animals with more fur are more likely to carry other allergens such as pet dander and dust, according to the American Lung Association (ALA). If you have a pet, not only do you need to handle pet hair carefully, you also need to clean household dust carefully, as it may contain pet dander that can trigger allergic reactions.

Myth #2:

Continuous exposure to animals will eventually desensitize you to them.

Not only is this not true, but in some cases, the opposite is true. If you have a confirmed allergy to animals, whether you are a child or adult, it usually will not get better through increasing exposure. In fact, it may get worse. That’s according to the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy.

However, studies have confirmed that early childhood exposure to cats, dogs and other animals may lower the risk of developing allergic reactions later in life. In one study of 8,000 children, researchers found that children continuously exposed to cats from the time they were 1 year old were 67 percent less likely than others to develop allergic asthma.

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