New Allergy Drops for People Allergic to Pets
By Tamara Sevigny
Being a pet owner is never easy, especially when the pet owner is allergic to his or her companion animal. “Most people aren’t willing to consider getting rid of their pets. Pets are part of the family,” says Dr. Lewin of Allergycare in Fairfield County. Dr. Lewin has been working with allergy patients for 25 years, helping people find relief who want to live with pets.
But don’t be quick to blame the pets. Get tested with your allergist to find out exactly what your allergies are. Keep in mind that many allergy sufferers are sensitive to more than one allergen. “It is very rare that a person is just allergic to cats or just allergic to dogs,” says Dr. Lewin.
All cats and dogs are allergenic (allergy-causing) to people who are allergic to animals. Cats tend to be more allergenic than dogs to allergic people, although, some people are more sensitive to dogs than cats. Contrary to popular belief there are no non-allergenic breeds of dogs or cats; even hairless breeds, as the allergens come from the skin, urine, and saliva and not the hair or fur.
Dogs who are constantly groomed may be less irritating, such as the Bichon Frise or Poodle and larger dogs will have more dander than small dogs, simply due to their size. But one dog or cat of a particular breed may be more irritating to an individual than another animal of the same breed.
If you are allergic to pet dander or allergens in the animal’s saliva or urine there are options. Re-homing your pets does not have to be the solution. A new allergy drop is becoming more widely prescribed by allergists allowing people to get diagnosed, but give themselves drops under the tongue at home, rather than getting frequent shots at the allergist’s office. There are three levels of treatment allergic people can consider when dealing with allergens in their pets.
The first is obvious; avoidance altogether. Create an allergy-free zone in your home, prohibiting the pet’s access to it. Use a high-efficiency HEPA air cleaner in your bedroom and throughout your home. Use impermeable covers for the mattresses and pillows, lessening the accumulation of allergen particles. Avoid dust and dander-catching furnishings, such as cloth curtains, blinds, and carpeted floors, or clean these items frequently. Use a microfilter bag in the vacuum cleaner to catch all the allergens effectively. Lastly, bathe your pet weekly, which will reduce allergens caught in fur by up to 84%.
The second form of treatment is an over-the-counter medication, such as antihistamines and nasal sprays. These medications do offer temporary relief, but are not always effective and will need to be taken on an ongoing basis.
The third form of treatment is Immunotherapy (allergy shots) which can improve symptoms considerably. They are given as often as twice a week for a prescribed period of time. They work by gradually desensitizing a person’s immune system to pet allergens. The allergy-causing proteins are injected under the person’s skin, triggering the body to produce antibodies, which block the allergen from causing a reaction. Although this can be very effective it is also time-consuming traveling to the allergist up to twice a week for a few weeks and even up to a few months.
Recent studies have allowed for a new treatment, called Sublingual Immunotherapy, or allergy drops, which have all the advantages as shots but are administered at home, under the tongue. The drops are even safe for children, as the shots sometimes are not. Dr. Lewin has offered this treatment for over a year now; having been studying allergies and treatment options with Allergychoices, Inc. out of La Crosse, WI, for the last three to four years. He has been working with allergy patients for 25 years and finds the drops so effective that he has converted his entire practice to Sublingual Immunotherapy.
Allergy drops are a new, excellent alternative to other treatments that could make living with pets an option for those who are allergic. Of course, if you currently do not have a pet, but are considering one and know you are allergic, be sure to consider all of the options of treatment, prepare your home, and speak with your allergist before doing so.
If you are allergic to animals or other allergens and you are interested in finding out more about the allergy treatments provided by Dr. Lewin, contact his office, Allergycare of Fairfield County, 300 Danbury Road, Suite 409, Wilton, call 203-834-2248 or visit www.allergycarefc.com.