Playing Well With Others: Overcoming Pet Allergies

 

By Jennifer Dumke | Sioux Falls Woman

Pets play a large part in people's lives. Most households have at least one furry friend and the thought of giving up their companion due to allergies can be heartbreaking. But allergists suggest a treatment tip that can be used to keep pets and their allergy-ridden owners "best friends."

Daniel Todd, MD, from Midwest Ear, Nose and Throat, has extensive knowledge of pets and allergies having been a Fellow of the American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy. He says that more than half of U.S. households are living with pets and people with allergies. Despite this, most of those affected individuals are likely to get rid of their allergist rather than their pet. But maybe love can conquer all, or at least allergies. "There are ways treat patients so they can become desensitized," he adds, even though all pets are potentially harmful due to the dander in their fur.

"A treatment called immunotherapy, which involves a series of shots or drops under the tongue, is often underutilized and is really the only potential cure for your allergies," says Dr. Todd. He adds that most people avoid getting tested because they dislike the idea of regular shots, even though the treatment may allow the patient to stop overreacting to their pets.

And getting started is relatively easy according to Dr. Todd. "Testing can either be done by a blood draw or preferable through skin testing. It really takes very little time and is fully covered by most insurance plans." If a patient is a good candidate for immunotherapy and proceeds with treatment, the next step is to begin a regimen of shots or drops under the tongue. "By regularly administering a patient with what they are allergic to, they eventually become desensitized and stop reacting to the allergen."

Typically, patients stay on weekly shots for a couple of years and then begin to space out the frequency. Once they quit overreacting to the allergen, which typically takes 3-5 years, most patients will experience permanent benefits. "Overall, the vast majority that embark on allergy shots feel it is worth it," says Dr. Todd. Even though antihistamines and nasal steroid sprays are available to lessen symptoms and steps can be taken to reduce exposure, immunotherapy is a life-time solution. So before giving up the family pet or living with constant allergic reactions, consider immunotherapy as a way to keep both you and your pet happy and healthy.