Can You Suddenly Become Allergic to Cats?
You might be familiar with different types of allergy. Seasonal allergies are a common nuisance for millions of Americans every year. Pet allergies are almost as common.
Many people believe that allergies are a result of genetics, and therefore cannot develop in adulthood. But according to science, that isn’t the case.
Many people have found themselves sneezing around their cats and wondering: Can you develop a cat allergy after living with cats for a long time?
First, it’s important to understand what an allergic reaction is. Allergies are the work of your immune system. A harmless particle of some kind enters your body, typically through being inhaled or digested. The immune system mistakenly flags this particle as a danger to your body.
In response to the perceived attack, your body produces immunoglobin antibodies that are meant to destroy the invasive particles.
In ordinary circumstances, your immune system protects you from disease and illness by fighting potentially harmful substances.
It’s the side effects of this fight that cause allergy symptoms. The antibodies flood your body with histamines, which cause skin reactions and sinus-related symptoms.
A host of other chemicals also enter your body. The worst part is that none of this is necessary, because the mistakenly flagged particle never posed a real threat.
Repeated exposure to certain allergens can cause a person to develop an allergy. This means that it is possible to become allergic to cats as an adult, even if you’ve never had a problem with them before.
For new cat owners, their immune system may overreact to a high amount of foreign dander particles. For longtime cat owners, being around the allergens for long periods of time is enough to cause the immune system to react.
There’s really no winning, and it’s hard to gauge who has the highest risk of developing an allergy.
Can you become allergic to cats after living with them? The answer is yes. But there are a few other factors to keep in mind.
You may be experiencing allergy symptoms that you believe are related to your cat. These symptoms may worsen after touching the cat, or even just being in the same room.
An allergic reaction can take many forms. Some people have such an extreme reaction to certain substances that the situation becomes life-threatening.
You’re probably familiar with peanut and strawberry allergies. Fortunately, the majority of cat allergies are not severe enough to threaten your life. They can be a nuisance, though. In addition, they can aggravate respiratory conditions like asthma.
People with cat allergies usually experience symptoms similar to the common cold. They may also have rashes on their skin, especially in areas that came into contact with cat fur.
The membranes around your eyes might become swollen and itchy. Your nose may also swell up, making breathing difficult. The release of histamines can also cause hives to develop on varying parts of the body.
A common complication of allergies is a long-lasting cough. This happens because of post nasal drip. It’s also common to feel fatigued and short of breath.
However, symptoms like chills, nausea, vomiting, and fever are not signs of an allergic reaction. They could indicate any number of other illnesses instead.
If You Think You May Be Allergic to Your Cat
There are a number of steps you can take if you suspect you’ve developed a cat allergy.
The first step is to confirm the allergy. Take note of when your symptoms occur. If possible, write down observations about your symptoms.
It’s also helpful to expose yourself to other cats as well. If you don’t have an allergic reaction to a friend’s cat, there’s a good chance that you’re allergic to some other substance in your home.
When you’re in constant contact with an allergen, your immune system can sometimes go into overdrive. It may begin flagging other particles in addition to the original allergy.
If your cough gets worse after you cuddle your cat, that’s not an automatic guarantee of a cat allergy. You may be reacting to something else, and the cat dander is simply aggravating your symptoms further.
If there are a number of substances you may be allergic to, it might be possible to do an allergy test. You should talk to your general practitioner about your testing options.
They may refer you to an allergy specialist. Allergy specialists are informed about the immune system, allergic reactions, allergens, and the constantly evolving scientific field surrounding allergies.
Coping with Cat Allergies
The best way to treat a cat allergy is through avoiding the allergen. It may be better for your health if you give your kitty a new home, especially if you have other respiratory issues.
For some cat owners, though, the idea of giving up their feline pal is devastating. There are steps you can take to reduce the presence of allergens in your home.
First, establish cat-free zones. Your kitty shouldn’t be allowed in your bedroom. If possible, you should also keep the cat out of highly lived-in areas like the living room.
Next, make sure to dust your home thoroughly two to three times a week. Cat dander often becomes trapped in dust. It’s also important to vacuum at least once a week, and to sweep your hard floors at least once weekly.
Allergy medications may also help. You can talk to your allergy specialist about the best options for you.
It is possible to become allergic to cats after living with them. If you think you have a cat allergy, you should talk to your doctor about what steps to take next. No matter the circumstances, you have treatment options.