What triggers cat allergies
See a GP if you ponder you or your kid might own had an allergic reaction to something.
The symptoms of an allergic reaction can also be caused by other conditions.
A GP can assist determine whether it’s likely you own an allergy.
If they ponder you might own a mild allergy, they can offer advice and treatment to assist manage the condition.
If your allergy is particularly severe or it’s not clear what you’re allergic to, they may refer you to an allergy specialist for testing and advice about treatment.
Find out more about allergy testing
Most Common Allergies
Food Allergy and Food Intolerance
If someone reacts to a food, they may own a Food Hypersensitivity (FHS).
FHS reactions involving the immune system are known as food allergy (FA), every other reactions are classified as food intolerances (FI). Read more…
Prescription drugs own been through a rigorous process of testing to ensure safety, despite this, a minority of individuals will develop side-effects.
Side- effects are termed “adverse drug reactions” by doctors and although the majority of adverse drug reactions are relatively minor and may even permit continuation with the drug, in some cases more severe symptoms can occur.Read more…
Allergy in Children
The bulk of allergic disease occurs in childhood, with asthma, allergic rhinitis, and eczema and food allergy comprising a significant percentage of the workload of doctors dealing with children in primary care and hospital paediatric departments. In a recent large UK survey, 20% of children were reported to own had asthma in the previous year, 18% had allergic rhino conjunctivitis (hay fever) and 16% had eczema.
This represents a massive increase in prevalence compared with similar studies in the 1970 s where prevalence rates were 3 fold lower. Of these children 47% had at least two co-existing conditions e.g. asthma and eczema. Read more…
Atopic Eczema (Dermatitis)
Eczema is a pattern of itchy skin rash consisting of tiny pink bumps that may join together producing ill-defined pink or red patches. There are numerous types of eczema – some own known causes. Dermatitis is the term used for eczema reactions that are caused by external agents/factors. Atopic eczema is often referred to as “infantile” of childhood eczema because that is when it generally develops.
Atopic eczema is generally associated with allergies (hayfever or asthma) in either the affected individuals or in their shut relatives. Read more…
Rhinitis means inflammation of the lining of the nose Rhinitis is defined clinically as symptoms of runny nose itching, sneezing and nasal blockage (congestion).. Common causes of rhinitis are allergies which may be seasonal (‘hayfever’) or happen all-year-round (examples include allergy to home dust mite, cats, dogs and moulds).Infections which may be acute or chronic represent another common cause. Rhinitis (whether due to allergic or other causes) is a risk factor for the development of asthma.
Rhinitis is also implicated in otitis media with effusion and in sinusitis which should rightly be termed rhinosinusitis since sinus inflammation almost always involves the nasal passages as well. Read more…
What is asthma?
Asthma is a condition that causes swelling and inflammation inside the airways of the lungs. This inflammation and swelling is there to a greater or lesser degree every the time in people with asthma.The more inflammation there is the harder it becomes to breathe.
People with asthma also own over-sensitive airways, so their airways react to triggers that do not affect other people. When sufferers come into contact with something that irritates their airways (a trigger), it can cause their airways to narrow.
The allergic process can affect the skin producing 2 main types of rashes namely urticaria (hives, nettlerash, welts) or eczema (see atopic dermatitis section).
Urticaria is a red itchy bumpy rash that is often short-lived and can appear in various shapes and sizes anywhere on the body.It is extremely common affecting 1 in 5 of the population at sometime in their lives.In some people urticaria is accompanied by large dramatic swellings commonly affecting lips, eyelids, tongue and hand called angioedema.
If you own pet allergies, chances are it is Fluffy rather than Fido that’s making you sneeze. While an estimated 10 percent of people are allergic to household pets, cat allergies are twice as common as dog allergies, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
Among children, about one in seven between ages 6 and 19 prove to be allergic to cats.
Contrary to favorite belief, it’s not cat fur that causes those itchy, watery eyes.
Most people with cat allergies react to a protein found on cat skin called Fel d 1.
The reason that cat allergies are more common has to do with the size and shape of the protein molecule, rather than how much dander the animal sheds, according to Mark Larché, an immunology professor at McMaster University in Ontario.
The protein enters the air on bits of cat hair and skin, and it is so little and light — it’s about one-tenth the size of a dust allergen — that it can stay airborne for hours.
«Dog allergens don’t stay airborne the same way cat allergens do.
The particle size is just correct to breathe deep into your lungs,» Larché said.
The Fel d 1 protein is also incredibly sticky, readily glomming onto human skin and clothes and remaining there, making it ubiquitous in the environment. It has been found in places where there are no cats — classrooms, doctors’ offices, even the Arctic, Larché said.
While there are no truly hypoallergenic cat breeds — every cats produce the protein, which experts surmise may own something do with pheromone signaling — some cats make more of it than others.
«Male cats, especially unneutered males, produce more Fel d 1 than female cats.
Testosterone increases glandular secretions,» said Dr. Andrew Kim, an allergist at the Allergy and Asthma Centers of Fredricksburg and Fairfax, in Virginia.
If you own cat allergies, there are steps you can take to reduce them. Avoiding contact with cats is one option, though not always a favorite choice. Even after a cat is taken out of a home, allergen levels may remain high for up to six months, Kim said.
Limiting a cat’s access to the bedrooms of allergic people, using high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, bathing the cat and removing allergen-trapping carpeting may also help.
For those who can’t avoid cat dander, allergy shots may be an option.
Little injections of the allergen can assist build immune system tolerance over time. «It takes about six months of weekly injections of increasing potency to reach a maintenance level, followed by three to five years of monthly injections, for the therapy to reach full effectiveness,» said Dr. Jackie Eghrari-Sabet, an allergist and founder of Family Allergy and Asthma Care in Gaithersburg, Md.
A less burdensome repair for cat allergies may be on the horizon.
Phase 3 clinical trials are set to start this drop for a cat allergy vaccine that Larché helped develop. Early tests own shown the vaccine to be safe and effective without some of the side effects of allergy shots, such as skin reactions and difficulty breathing. Larché receives research funding from pharmaceutical companies Adiga Life Sciences and Circassia.
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You may own heard that "animal dander" from your pet(s) may worsen your asthma. In fact, every furry/feathered animals produce animal dander.
Thus, any pet dander puts asthmatics at an increased risk of poor asthma control if they are sensitive.
This is not a little problem. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, as numerous as 30% of every asthmatics own an allergy to dogs or cats. While numerous people associate asthma-related symptoms with hair, it is actually the dander causing problems.
How to manage an allergy
In many cases, the most effective way of managing an allergy is to avoid the allergen that causes the reaction whenever possible.
For example, if you own a food allergy, you should check a food’s ingredients list for allergens before eating it.
There are also several medicines available to help control symptoms of allergic reactions, including:
- lotions and creams, such as moisturising creams (emollients) – these can reduce skin redness and itchiness
- decongestants – tablets, capsules, nasal sprays or liquids that can be used as a short-term treatment for a blocked nose
- antihistamines – these can be taken when you notice the symptoms of a reaction, or before being exposed to an allergen, to stop a reaction occurring
- steroid medicines – sprays, drops, creams, inhalers and tablets that can assist reduce redness and swelling caused by an allergic reaction
For some people with extremely severe allergies, a treatment called immunotherapy may be recommended.
This involves being exposed to the allergen in a controlled way over a number of years so your body gets used to it and does not react to it so severely.
What causes allergies?
Allergies occur when the body’s immune system reacts to a specific substance as though it’s harmful.
It’s not clear why this happens, but most people affected own a family history of allergies or own closely related conditions, such as asthma or eczema.
The number of people with allergies is increasing every year.
The reasons for this are not understood, but 1 of the main theories is it’s the result of living in a cleaner, germ-free environment, which reduces the number of germs our immune system has to deal with.
It’s thought this may cause it to overreact when it comes into contact with harmless substances.
Symptoms of an allergic reaction
Allergic reactions generally happen quickly within a few minutes of exposure to an allergen.
They can cause:
- a red, itchy rash
- red, itchy, watery eyes
- wheezing and coughing
- a runny or blocked nose
- worsening of asthma or eczema symptoms
Most allergic reactions are mild, but occasionally a severe reaction called anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock can happen.
This is a medical emergency and needs urgent treatment.
Substances that cause allergic reactions are called allergens.
The more common allergens include:
- latex – used to make some gloves and condoms
- medicines – including ibuprofen, aspirin and certain antibiotics
- dust mites
- food – particularly nuts, fruit, shellfish, eggs and cows’ milk
- insect bites and stings
- mould – these can release little particles into the air that you can breathe in
- grass and tree pollen – an allergy to these is known as hay fever (allergic rhinitis)
- animal dander, tiny flakes of skin or hair
- household chemicals – including those in detergents and hair dyes
Most of these allergens are generally harmless to people who are not allergic to them.
Is it an allergy, sensitivity or intolerance?
The exaggeration of the normal effects of a substance.
For example, the caffeine in a cup of coffee may cause extreme symptoms, such as palpitations and trembling.
A reaction produced by the body’s immune system when exposed to a normally harmless substance.
Where a substance causes unpleasant symptoms, such as diarrhoea, but does not involve the immune system.
People with an intolerance to certain foods can typically eat a little quantity without having any problems.
Sheet final reviewed: 22 November 2018
Next review due: 22 November 2021
Studies own shown that food allergies overall are the third most common type of feline allergy, outranked in frequency only by allergies to flea bites and inhaled substances.
Although itchy, irritating skin problems are the most common signs of this allergy, an estimated 10 percent to 15 percent of affected cats also exhibit gastrointestinal signs, such as vomiting and diarrhea.
The itching that typically signals the presence of a food allergy is caused by the eruption of little, pale, fluid-filled lumps on a cat’s skin, which form in response to the presence of an allergen, a substance to which the animal’s system is abnormally sensitive.
“The itching eruptions primarily affect the head and neck area,” says Carolyn McDaniel, VMD, a lecturer in clinical sciences at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
“They’re not always in that area, but often enough to serve as a clue that the source is a food allergy.”
In themselves, the aggravating lesions do not pose a significant health hazard. But the incessant scratching that they immediate may cause secondary skin wounds and a resulting vulnerability to severe bacterial infection.
In addition, gastrointestinal problems stemming from a food allergy may own far-reaching systemic implications, including food avoidance that can result in health-compromising weight loss.
The most visible signs of a food allergy—the persistent scratching, the emergence of skin lesions, loss of hair, and a general deterioration of the coat—do not develop overnight. Instead, they tend to become evident and intensify over extended periods of time—months or even longer—as the animal’s immune system gradually mounts a defense against certain protein and carbohydrate molecules that are present in most standard cat foods.
“We don’t know why this allergy develops,” says Dr. McDaniel. “A cat of any age can be affected, and it can happen in a cat that has been on the same diet for years.”
When the signs appear, a cat should get immediate veterinary care. If a food allergy is indeed suspected, the specific allergen should be identified and removed from the animal’s diet.
After other potential causes of the skin eruptions, such as flea bites, are ruled out and a food allergy is identified as the probable cause of the clinical signs, the next challenge is to identify what precisely in the cat’s diet is responsible for the problem.
This process will most effectively be carried out at home by the owner’s introduction of what is termed a “novel” diet, which is based on the fact that most feline food allergies are traceable to the protein or carbohydrate content of an affected animal’s normal fare.
The most commonly used protein sources in cat food include beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey, and eggs. Since protein is a fundamental component of living cells and is necessary for the proper functioning of an organism, the novel diet must contain protein—but it must be derived from a source to which an affected cat has not been previously exposed, such as venison or kangaroo meat.
Since the same holds true for carbohydrates, the vegetables that are frequently used in cat foods—wheat, barley, and corn, for instance—would be excluded from the novel diet and replaced by, for example, potato.
If a cat consumes nothing but the novel diet and water for a period of at least eight to 10 weeks, it is likely that the allergic signs will gradually vanish. In that case, the owner can assume that the allergen was a component of the previous diet. And to identify the specific offending allergen, the owner subsequently reintroduces components of the cat’s original diet one by one and watches carefully for the reemergence of allergic symptoms.
If the symptoms recur, they will probably do so within a week or two, in which case the owner will own confirmed at least one source of the allergy.
Through repeated systematic testing—and a lot of patience—it is possible for the owner to pinpoint every dietary ingredients to which a cat is allergic. Therapy, it follows, requires the permanent exclusion of these ingredients from the cat’s diet.