Does holding a fluffy dog make you sneeze and wheeze? If you’re suffering from dreadful allergies, you may think that it’s impossible for you to enjoy the heartwarming companionship offered by adorable pets. But fear not. All hope is not lost, as you can still cuddle that charming little fluffball when you choose the right pet for you.
What Is a Hypoallergenic Pet?
Pet dander — or dead skin cells — is a common, serious trigger for allergy symptoms, and it’s present even in hairless cats and short-haired dogs. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (aafa.org/page/pet-dog-cat-allergies.aspx), around three in 10 individuals with allergies experience allergic reactions to dogs and cats, and cat allergies are more common than dog allergies.
Hypoallergenic pets refer to animals that generally produce fewer allergens, leading to lower chances of triggering your allergy symptoms. However, no dog or cat is completely non-allergic. Your immune system naturally responds to proteins found in the dander, saliva or urine of animals to shield your body from illnesses. But in the case of people with pet allergies, their immune systems are more sensitive than others and are thus more prone to react even to harmless animal proteins. Thankfully, you can still care for an animal even if you have pet allergy once you find one that doesn’t cause allergic reactions.
“What are some of the Best Hypoallergenic Animals for Your Family?”
Best Dogs for Allergy Sufferers:
If you’re looking for a dog, the American Kennel Club (akc.org/about/faq-allergies/)
Recommends breeds with a predictable, non-shedding coat that creates less dander. Here are ideal hypoallergenic canine breeds for allergy sufferers:
- Afghan Hound — Typically reserved and composed, Afghan Hounds need regular exercise and grooming. You should bathe and brush your Afghan Hound twice a week to keep pet dander at bay.
- American Hairless Terrier — American Hairless Terriers are smart, energetic dogs that are perfect for kids and teens. They also are ideal for those living in bustling cities, as they require minimal outdoor exercise and do well with a lot of indoor playtime.
- Bedlington Terriers — Regular walks and indoor play can make a Bedlington Terrier fit and happy. If you want a hypoallergenic dog with a wooly coat, this breed is for you.
- Chinese Crested — A Chinese Crested is a wonderful breed if you’re looking for a dog that sheds little to no hair. It’s an attentive and active dog that loves to spend time with its owner.
For cat lovers, the following feline breeds are considered hypoallergenic:
- Siberian Forest — Typically heavier than other cats, a Siberian Forest is strong and thick-coated. This cat breed loves to show affection and play with water.
- Balinese — Balinese cats are single-coated with less shedding. Resembling the Siamese, these cats have bright blue eyes, and they are lively, friendly and intelligent.
- Burmese — If you want an incredibly loyal feline that gives you plenty of affection, a Burmese cat is your best choice. This smart, playful, people-oriented cat is comparable to dogs.
Unknown to many, birds also produce pet dander and may trigger allergy symptoms. But if you really want a feathered companion, you can choose birds that are hypoallergenic. Parakeets, also called budgies, shed minimal dander, making them an excellent option for allergy sufferers. Other recommended hypoallergenic birds include Eclectus, Pionus, and Toucans.
Small, Hypoallergenic Animals:
Aquatic pets are perfect for allergy sufferers, as they stay in the water and require no direct contact. Just make sure you don’t dip your hand in the water to prevent potential infections associated with aquatic environments. You may also opt for a pet reptile, which neither has fur nor the proteins known to cause allergic reactions.
“How to Know If a Pet Is Hypoallergenic?”
Before getting a new pet, especially if you’re planning to adopt a rescued animal, it’s important to determine first if the animal doesn’t trigger your symptoms. To do so, trial and error may be necessary. Visit an animal shelter, a pet store or a friend who has the particular breed you like, and spend time with your chosen animal for up to an hour a few times to check for allergic reactions. If you don’t cough, wheeze or show noticeably swollen body parts, you’ve likely found a hypoallergenic pet that’s suitable for you. Keep in mind to consult your doctor first, especially if you have severe allergies or asthma, to ensure your safety.
Also, before bringing home any pet, make sure you know exactly what you’re allergic to by going to an allergist and getting allergy testing if you haven’t done so already. This helps identify substances that you may need to avoid when choosing your pet’s diet or bedding. Once you get a hypoallergenic pet, make sure to prepare a separate room for it, wash its bed frequently and groom it as needed. By taking extra time and effort, you’ll be able to have fun with your pet without worrying too much about your allergies.
Associates of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology estimates that more than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies. While that number is jarring, additional statistics show that approximately one out of six Americans suffer from allergic rhinitis. The following information will describe what allergic rhinitis is, what triggers it and why consulting an allergist as opposed to your primary care physician is the best course of action to take if you believe that you may be living with allergies.
What is allergic rhinitis?
Allergy means “strange activity” in Greek. Rhinitis, also Greek in origin, literally means “condition of the nose.” Therefore, allergic rhinitis, which is also referred to as hay fever, can be defined as a condition in which irritants cause “inflammation of the nose or its mucous membrane.”
What causes allergies?
Pollen is a powdery fertilizing agent that flowering plants release in order to fertilize other plants. It helps create beautiful gardens, but pollen also makes it difficult for people with seasonal allergies to enjoy them.
Pollen, which is transported through the air, attaches itself to a person’s hair, skin and clothing. When people who are sensitive to pollen breathe in pollen-laden air, typical symptoms include “sneezing, nasal congestion, runny nose, watery eyes, itchy throat and eyes and wheezing.”
Pollen and debris from an animal’s coat or feathers are two of the most common irritants that trigger allergic rhinitis symptoms. However, it is worth mentioning that pollen is not just limited to flowers. For example, certain trees, grasses, and desert plants like cacti are also pollen-heavy. Additionally, dust and chemicals from pipe, cigar and cigarette smoke are other windborne irritants, and all the above can be particularly tough on people living with allergies. This is just one reason why attempting to self-medicate with over the counter medicine is not advised.
Why do you need to see an allergist instead of your primary care physician?
Unlike general physicians, allergists are physicians who have completed additional training programs that allow them to effectively diagnose and treat asthma and allergic diseases. The following list describes some of the health issues that an allergist-immunologist treats:
. hay fever
. hives (ACAAI)
What should you expect when you visit an allergist?
An allergist-immunologist will conduct a thorough medical history and physical exam. Skin and blood tests may also be incorporated in order to determine exactly what substances are causing allergic reactions. This is typically done in an in-house testing lab. The new client visit could take up to two hours. Once the irritants have been identified, allergists will create a treatment plan that may include dietary recommendations, inoculations and other medication specifically designed for their clients’ needs.
Is there a cure for allergies?
Unfortunately, no. However, immunotherapy and specialty medicines as well as education, can greatly reduce the symptoms that people living with allergies would normally experience by attempting to self-medicate, which can be dangerous. By consulting a top Phoenix allergist, these individuals can avoid wasting time, money and possibly putting their health at risk and focus on enjoying life.
American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. (n.d.). Retrieved from acaai.org/
Allergy | Define Allergy at Dictionary.com. (n.d.). Retrieved from dictionary.com/browse/allergy
Rhinitis | Define Rhinitis at Dictionary.com. (n.d.). Retrieved from dictionary.com/browse/rhinitis
American Board of Allergy and Immunology:. (n.d.). Retrieved from abai.org
Allergy Facts | AAFA.org. (n.d.). Retrieved from aafa.org/page/allergy-facts.aspx
Statistics suggest that sinusitis, a common medical condition, affects one out of every eight adults each year. Children may also suffer from this infection; however, because their sinuses are not fully developed until they are in their late teens, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish their presenting symptoms from allergies, vs. colds or viruses.
Definition of Sinusitis and Facts:
While they vary in size, shape and development, humans have four pairs of mucous lined sinuses, which are located in their cheekbones, lower forehead, between the eyes and behind the nose. When they are infected by multiplying bacteria, fungi or viruses, sinuses react to the invaders through the swelling, inflammation and irritation of their mucosal linings, which leads to blockage of normal sinus drainage. The blockage can be manifested in the following manner:
- Acute: can last up to three weeks.
- Subacute: can last anywhere from three weeks to three months.
- Chronic: typically lasts longer than three months and can also present as a series of acute episodes on top of the chronic condition over time.
Sinusitis Symptoms and How Related to Allergies:
The symptoms and complaints of sinusitis are generally specific to their
type. They can be acquired during a hospital stay or nosocomial; triggered by allergies or a cold, viral, fungal or bacterial infections; or be linked to immunosuppression problems. According to Reuler, Lucas and Kumar (1995) and Caspersen, Walter, Walsh, Rosenfeld, and Piccirillo (2015), the following is a list of selected symptoms and complaints based on the type of sinusitis.
- Acute: Facial pain and fullness, pain around the eyes, headache, cloudy, green, yellow, clear or purulent nasal discharge, decreased sense of smell and fever. Also, may be difficult to distinguish from common cold or allergies.
- Allergic: Some resources refer to an “allergic” sinusitis, which is associated with “allergic rhinitis.” This is a nasal condition that occurs when individuals have an allergic reaction to something that they breathe in. The symptoms usually resolve when the offending allergen is removed or the particular allergy season ends.
- Subacute: Complaints similar to acute presentations, but last up to three months.
- Chronic: Similar complaints as acute sinusitis with the addition of nasal obstruction or polyps, postnasal drip, halitosis and lasting longer than three months. Pain may be absent in chronic sinusitis, except for those individuals with frontal sinus infections.
- Hospital Acquired or Nosocomial: Occurs after patients are hospitalized and is contracted either through something in the hospital’s environment or staff hygiene practices or illnesses. The infections usually affect the sinuses on both sides and are frequently seen in those patients with long-term ventilator needs; nasogastric and tracheal tubes; or with nasal packing due to injury or surgical procedures on their skulls and faces.
- Immunosuppression Problems: In addition to the symptoms reported in sinusitis, opportunistic fungi and other gram-negative microorganisms may be seen in individuals with HIV or other immune deficiencies. According to Lal, there are several types of fungal sinusitis, which may be invasive or non-invasive.
Causes of Sinusitis:
According to Caspersen, et al (2015), Reuler, et al (1995) and Lal (n.d.), sinusitis is an infection caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi, which are associated with respiratory illnesses, deficient immune systems, and other conditions. Acute sinusitis caused by bacteria is manifested when an individual has not improved at all after ten days of getting sick or if their condition worsens within ten days after they begin to get better. When the cause of the sinusitis is a virus, however, the individual is usually sick less than ten days and does not get worse. As for fungal sinusitis, most people in good health who have strong immune systems are not affected by the presence of fungi that they may inhale. The fungi may, however, cause infection and inflammation of the sinuses and nose in individuals with weakened immune systems. It may also occur in individuals who have been on long-term antibiotic therapy.
Sinusitis Diagnosis and Tests:
Sinusitis, in its many forms, cannot be diagnosed based on signs and symptoms alone because other conditions may mimic sinusitis. Additional information may be obtained through a physical exam and assessment; a medical history review; CT scans for severe or chronic sinusitis or complications; sinus x-rays; endoscopic sinus exams (ESM); allergies and immune functioning tests; needle aspiration and culture of sinus contents to identify the microorganisms causing the problem; or a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to see where the infection has spread or if there are any growths or tumors in the sinuses or nose. Current guidelines advise health care providers to refrain from ordering expensive radiological diagnostic tests unless severe complications are suspected or if there is facial swelling or cranial nerve complications (WebMD; Potera, 2015).
Treatment and Therapy:
Following a correct diagnosis of sinusitis and before prescribing any treatments or therapies, healthcare providers must be aware of the current clinical practice guidelines from the American Academy of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery Foundation. ENTNET’s latest directives suggest that antibiotics are not needed for viral or fungal sinus infections. Additionally, when the infection is bacterial, there should be “watchful waiting” or a seven-day waiting period without antibiotics to see if the individuals get better on their own. Over the counter treatments for both bacterial and viral sinusitis include nasal steroid sprays, nasal irrigations or rinses as well as pain relievers.
Prevention and Prophylaxis:
An effective strategy to help prevent sinusitis is the adoption of a healthy lifestyle, which promotes rest, stress reduction, good nutrition, strengthening of the immune system, annual flu shots, exercise and frequent hand washing.
Where to find help:
If you are suffering from any of these symptoms, you could make an appointment with one of our Arizona specialists to help determine the right course of action, and treatment plan. Patients and healthcare providers should always conduct specialized testing and meet in person to discuss the benefits and potential risks or harms of treatments based on your unique body.
Caspersen, L.A., Walter, L.M., Walsh, S.A., Rosenfeld, R.M., and Piccirillo, J.F. (2015). Plain language summary: Adult sinusitis (Sinus infection). Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Vol. 153(2), Lal, D. (n.d.) Fungal sinusitis. care.american-rhinologic.org/fungal_sinusitis
American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. (n.d.). Retrieved from entnet.org/
WebMD. Allergies Health Center. webmd.com/allergies/picture-of-the-sinuses
Phoenix is a beautiful city that has been growing for the last few decades. As it is in the desert, many people think that they can escape problems with allergies and possible asthma by relocating to the city. However, there is no real escape from allergies. You simply find that you are allergic to things besides the mold and mildew of wetter climates.
Arizona is in in the Top 15 of states for Asthma
A report released by the University of Arizona identified Arizona as being in the top 15 states where asthma has been reported and almost 10% of Arizona adults have been told that they may have asthma. A large reason why the state is in the top 15,(which is a less than desirable ranking) ,is because so many people moved to the desert hoping to avoid developing asthma.
This meant that people and their children who were more likely to develop asthma moved to the desert because they likely thought our desert climate would be better prevention for asthma and allergies than it is! Unfortunately, there are just as many allergens in AZ, so people were lulled into a false sense of security.
Knowing Your Arizonan Allergens
If you have a genetic disposition to asthma but have not been diagnosed with the illness, there are a few things you can do to help be aware of what triggers it. One of the best things you can do is to know what allergens affect you. Our clinics can help you learn about your allergies through prick testing. This method of testing is conducted on the skin and includes all of the most common types of allergens:
- Animal dander (cat and dog)
There may not be as many molds in Phoenix as somewhere like in the Midwest, but the desert is not mold free. Alternaria is a mold that is located nearly everywhere across North America. Perhaps the biggest problem is that there are numerous strains, and you may be allergic to one type but not another. The good news is that our doctors have the advanced knowledge and medications will be able to test and treat for the strains that are likely to grow in our desert area.
Get Tested by Specialists
To see if you may be affected by local allergens which could be causing your asthma, call or schedule an appointment today with our Asthma Specialists! We have offices and testing hours in Glendale, Anthem, Scottsdale, Avondale and in Mid Phoenix in order to make it as convenient for your as possible! It’s time for you to live allergy and asthma free!
It’s estimated that allergies affect at least 30 percent of the U.S. population, which translates to roughly 50 million people. If you are one of those millions, you know how uncomfortable, miserable, and downright dangerous allergies can potentially be. Whether it’s Hay Fever, Asthma, or more dangerous allergies that can lead to Anaphylaxis, it’s important to work with your doctor or allergist to keep your symptoms managed and under control. This holds true no matter where you live; some people erroneously believe that living in a desert climate means they will no longer suffer from allergies. This may be true for a short time, but if you have had allergies previously, you will risk developing them again in your new home to potential allergens found there.
So what are allergies? In short, allergies are an over-reaction of your body’s immune system to otherwise-innocuous items and components found in the environment. Normally, your body’s immune system protects you against infection by harmful pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, parasites, and other harmful invaders by creating antibodies to destroy them. An allergy occurs when your body mistakes a harmless material for a harmful invader and develops antibodies against it. This is why you might sneeze, have itchy eyes, have sinus pain, or have more severe symptoms when coming into contact with an allergen.
So does moving to Phoenix help alleviate allergies? Yes and no. If your allergies are triggered by air pollution or other components that are isolated to selected geographic areas, you can relocate and drastically improve your allergy symptoms. However, many people have moved from the city or the suburbs to a rural or desert location, only to find their allergies reappear within a few years. The reason why makes sense; a person who has developed allergies already has an immune system that is prone to developing sensitivities to innocuous materials. When you relocate, all you’re doing is removing the previously-offending materials from your environment; you’re not treating the underlying allergies. This leaves your immune system vulnerable to sensitizing itself to an entirely new allergen. For example, if you move to the desert to escape an allergy to tree pollen, you may be fine for a few years before your immune system becomes sensitized to grass pollen or the pollen from a different tree species, just to name one example.
If you’re still planning to relocate to the desert –for example, you’re retiring and want to live in one of the many retirement communities that have sprung up in our beautiful desert state- here are some examples of the most common allergens you might run into in the desert. (Remember that you should speak with your doctor or allergist about your specific allergies and treatments before moving, and you should also ask for a referral to a well known allergist in the area you are relocating to so you can continue with your existing allergy shots and treatments you might be undergoing.)
- Dust and Pollution Allergies
You can’t escape dust and pollution, no matter where you move to. Dust can be composed of anything, including skin cells, mold spores, grains of pollen, broken-down bits of rock and soil, and grains of sand. It can also include the waste products of animals or insects such as dust mites. The specific composition of dust may change depending on the area you relocate to, but you won’t be able to totally escape it. If you have an allergy to dust, your immune system might change to react to the dust of your new location, leaving you miserable all over again.
2. Mold Allergies
Many people believe molds are only a problem in cooler climates with lots of rain, but they can also exist in dry climates as well. One dangerous example of this is the mold that causes Valley Fever, or Coccidioidomycosis; it’s a mold commonly found in the soils of Arizona, California, and other parts of the southwest that can lie dormant in dry weather and be kicked up when it rains or when the ground is otherwise disturbed. Valley Fever aside, a lot of molds exist in desert soil and flourish during the rainy season.
3. Animal Dander
Where there are animals, there will continue to be animal dander. Dander isn’t just the fur of animals, it’s also the skin cells and saliva proteins that are shed when an animal sheds or grooms itself. This is why cat dander allergies can be such a nightmare; because cats groom themselves so fastidiously, they leave lots of saliva proteins behind that can trigger allergic reactions.
Wherever there are plants, there will likely be pollen. And September starts the Allergy season here in Phoenix! Pollen is how plants and trees reproduce, it’s why they release so much of it during the spring and summer months. If you relocate due to a ragweed allergy, for example, you might find yourself eventually becoming allergic to the pollen released by grass in your new location. Or you might have had an allergy to tree pollens, moved to the desert, and now have an allergy to ragweed or to the trees in your new home as you grow more acclimated to the environment.
There are two ways people can develop allergies to insects. The first (and best known) is by developing an allergy to insect venom such as bee or wasp stings. This can lead to Anaphylaxis, which can rapidly be fatal if not treated in time. The second way to develop allergies is by developing sensitivity to proteins left by an insect; these can be left in their saliva, droppings, or other things they come into contact with. Most people think of dust mite allergies, but you can also develop sensitivities to kissing bugs, cockroaches, mosquitoes, fleas, and other insects. Some insects can also contribute to you developing allergies to unrelated things; for example, if you are bitten by a Lone Star Tick, you risk developing an allergy to meat due to a protein that can be transmitted via the tick’s saliva.
Whether you are new to Phoenix or you have lived here for some time, our specialty allergy doctors know how difficult it can be to live with allergies. Our clinics can assist you with allergy testing, allergy treatments, and any other information in order to keep your allergies in check. Call or visit our website for more information or to schedule an appointment. Remember that we have offices all throughout the Valley- Anthem, Avondale, Phoenix, Scottsdale and Glendale!