Itchy, red eyes and constant sneezing are the absolute worst. Whether you ran into a cat accidentally or are visiting a close friend who owns a cuddly kitten, allergy symptoms can hit you hard. But mild or even severe cat allergies don’t have to ruin your day. Here are some effective ways to deal with those stubborn symptoms.
“For more mild allergies, I recommend using a nasal steroid spray each day,” board-certified allergist Tania Elliot told The Active Times. These sprays typically cost $10 to $15 and take about a week to kick in, so this is really only practical if you’re around cats every day. You can consult the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology for a guide to the types of nasal sprays and their usual dosages.
If nasal spray doesn’t seem to do the trick, Elliot then recommends trying an antihistamine. These over-the-counter medications can work quickly and are a smart option for one-time interactions with cats. The AAAII can also help you navigate these medications. Although there can be side effects, like drowsiness and dry mouth, newer medications that are prescribed by an allergist or much less likely to have these effects.
For the most severe allergies, Eliot recommends allergy shots, also known as immunotherapy.
“Allergy shots can cure you of your cat allergy,” she said. Allergy shots contain smaller amounts of the substance you are allergic to. The amount of allergen in the shot builds up over time.
According to the AAAII, immunotherapy consists of two phases: the build-up phase and the maintenance phase. Although this treatment option has some side effects, such as redness and swelling at the injection site, it will work to develop your immunity and tolerance to cat dander. Serious reactions, which are rare, require immediate medical attention. Common symptoms include swelling in the throat, tightness in the chest, dizziness and nausea.
Thanks to these shots,with a few other precautions people with allergies can still own cats, according to Elliot.
“Keep the cat out of the bedroom, have an air filter that is the right size for the room and wash your cat once a week,” she advised.
Even if you don’t expect to be in an environment with cats themselves, cat owners bring dander wherever they go. You may find yourself experiencing a cat allergy even if you steer clear of direct contact.
“Ask your friend to wear freshly washed, or better yet, new clothes when they come visit you,” Elliot said. “Have them shower right before coming as well.”
Whether you’re allergic to cat dander, shellfish or peanuts, there are a number of ways to protect yourself without compromising your lifestyle. For example, you can check out one of the top allergy-friendly restaurants in America.