Allergy in Domestic Animals: Symptoms and Treatment.
Allergy to domestic animals involves sensitizing the body (hypersensitivity) to hair, down, feathers and other biological particles of animals. The signs of pathology are different – as a rule, they develop in the location where the antigen (allergen) penetrated into the tissues. Most often these are manifestations from the side of the organ of vision, respiratory system, skin integument.
Diagnosis is easy. But the treatment is somewhat problematic. In addition to specific purposes, it implies the termination of contact with a pet, which can turn into a home drama.
Table of contents:
- General data
- The development of pathology
- Symptoms of animal allergies in children and adults
- How to detect allergies in animals?
- Differential diagnosis
- How to get rid of animal allergies
Cats and dogs have long lived in a person’s house – for the same amount of time they cause an allergic reaction. The ranks of pets are growing and expanding due to other animal species – often exotic. Due to the different structure of wool, down, feathers and excrement (urine, feces) of different animals, the number of antigens involved in allergic reactions has increased. The number of cases of allergies detected in pets is growing.
The reasons are as follows:
- Increasingly, families take on the education of a mewing or barking pet (in different countries – from 35 to 80%);
- Sensitization of the population is increasing – the body’s sensitivity to foreign agents (in this case, protein structures);
- more and more advanced methods are involved in the diagnosis of allergies, which make it possible to distinguish an allergic pathology from another disorder.
According to some reports, every seventh inhabitant of the planet is allergic to pets of varying severity.
All age categories fall ill, but children suffer more often due to a banal reason – more frequent contact with pets, and also because of an imperfect immune system.
Allergies can develop equally in farm and decorative pets. The immediate cause of the development of the described pathology is contact with any biological particles of this kind:
- waste products (feces and urine). Often, sensitization appears in the patient for the first time precisely on the excrement (feces) of animals and becomes the primary sign of the described disease;
- less often – horny elements (claws, scales, elements of the shell and chitinous shell of insects, which are increasingly kept as pets).
False allergies in pets can also be diagnosed, which develops in contact with:
- their parasites;
- items of care for them.
The smallest particles of fluff, feathers and other integumentary elements of domestic animals literally “circulate” in the enclosed space of an apartment or house, because of which they sooner or later penetrate the human body. They have pronounced adhesive properties (the ability to adhere), therefore, during a control examination they are revealed in a person’s housing literally everywhere.
- pile of floor carpets and paths. Especially abundant – – – fluffy flooring;
- soft elements of home furniture;
- clothing (especially synthetic, which is able to electrify and “attract” small particles);
- food and so on.
Due to the pronounced “stickiness”, particles of the cover of domestic animals are able to stay in the house for a long time and cause allergies in the absence of the pets themselves. Having a high degree of adhesion, they are able to “survive” even after a thorough cleaning in the house. Allergic “aggressiveness” is compounded by the fact that particles of fluff, wool, feathers and so on are made up of various proteins – and protein structures are one of the most powerful allergens. Feces of domestic animals can cause an allergic reaction even when, after direct contact with them, a person quickly washed their hands. In the warm season, an allergy can occur in the absence of such contact – it is enough to inhale the fumes of urine and urine.
It is difficult to distinguish the allergy caused by the animals themselves and their parasites (the fleas are the most “popular”), but it is possible: if a person has recovered after treatment of a pet, this indirectly indicates the possibility of developing an allergic reaction specifically to parasitic elements.
The described pathology in the form of a false form is manifested when a person comes in contact with animal care items. This is usually:
- medications for the treatment of one or another pathology of a pet;
- items of care for the corner where he lives;
- substances that are applied to destroy biological parasites.
Cases of an allergic reaction were recorded in contact with 90-95% of varieties of ornamental and farm animals.
Allergies to pets can occur with:
- normal contact with them;
- damage caused by aggressive behavior. In particular, it has been suggested that the allergic mechanism is also involved in the development of the so-called cat scratch disease (a dermatological pathology that occurs when a cat claw is mechanically wounded and appears with red papules).
Animal allergens can penetrate the human body in the traditional ways:
- through the respiratory system – by inhalation of small particles or fumes. In this case, the penetration of allergens through the mucous membrane occurs at the level of the upper respiratory tract – nasopharynx, larynx, upper trachea;
- upon contact through the skin – namely, through damage and micropores;
- through the gastrointestinal tract with food into which allergens accidentally get.
If a person has previously experienced allergic reactions, sensitization due to contact with domestic animals can pass faster and be more pronounced. Disorders at the tissue level are the same in adults and children. It is believed that early moderate contact of the child with the pet contributes to the development of resistance to allergens in wool, fluff and so on. The mechanism of its formation roughly resembles the “buildup” of immunity after vaccination, during which weakened microbial bodies are introduced into the body. Upon contact with almost all animal allergens, an immediate type hypersensitivity reaction occurs – immunoglobulins E participate in its development, which lead to damage to the body’s own tissues.
A simplified process is as follows:
- the allergen enters the body;
- In response, immunoglobulin E is produced;
- IgE, upon repeated contact with the allergen, binds to cells that contain substances responsible for allergic manifestations. Cells are called obese, and substances are called mediators (the most famous of them are histamine and serotonin);
- mediators are released, leading to a violation of the state of organs and tissues, acting on them – so, this increases the lumen of the blood vessels, irritates the nerve receptors (the smallest nerve structures), fluid accumulates in the tissues, which causes their edema, and so on .
Any manifestations of allergies in the form of redness, nasal discharge, itching of the skin and others (in general, and with allergies to pets in particular) arise under the influence of mediators of allergic reactions.
The allergic reaction in contact with domestic animals is very similar in development mechanism to those that develop with pathologies such as:
- Anaphylactic reaction to a number of medications;
- allergic rhinitis – inflammation of the nasal mucosa;
- bronchial asthma – damage to the small bronchi with their regular narrowing, which leads to the development of asthma attacks.
SYMPTOMS OF ALLERGY ON ANIMALS IN CHILDREN AND ADULTS
The clinical picture of allergies to pets is quite diverse.
Symptoms depend on factors such as:
- the route of entry of allergens into the body;
- their number;
- concomitant pathology;
- degree of compromised organs or tissues.
As a rule, the symptoms are represented by violations from:
- organ of vision;
- respiratory tract;
- skin integument.
Ophthalmic symptoms will be as follows:
- itching in the eyes;
- a feeling of irritation (patients voice their feelings as follows: “As if someone poured sand in the eyes”);
- redness of the eyes;
- sometimes – diplopia (double vision).
From the respiratory system, the following symptoms can be observed:
- itching in the nose;
- sore throat;
- hoarseness and hoarseness of the voice;
- impaired breathing.
Skin manifestations of the described pathology are:
What elements of a rash are allergic to pets?
- erythema – red spots that can merge with each other, forming extensive “fields” of redness;
- a rash of the type of urtikarnoy – in the form of small multiple vesicles that can merge with each other.
In some cases, symptoms of a violation of the general condition of the body develop – this:
- hyperthermia – an increase in body temperature. As a rule, it is moderate, at the level of subfebrile indicators – from 37.0 to 37.2 degrees Celsius. Hyperthermia is more common in children who have developed an allergy to pets;
- disability – physical and mental.
- The latter in children is fraught with a decline in school performance.
HOW TO IDENTIFY AN ALLERGY ON ANIMALS?
It is not difficult to make a diagnosis of allergies to pets – you just need to find out the presence of pets in the family or the fact of caring for farm animals. But it should be remembered that an allergy can be multivalent – that is, develop into a number of different allergens, moreover, sensitization of the body in contact with animals can be one of its manifestations. Therefore, to prevent diagnostic errors, it is necessary to take into account any information received – patient complaints, details of the medical history (history) of the disease, results of additional research methods (physical, instrumental, laboratory).
When studying the history, in addition to the fact of the presence of animals in the family, it should be ascertained whether the patient had previously had allergic manifestations, or if he was diagnosed with autoimmune diseases, which also arise against the background of the body’s immune response.
A physical examination determines the following:
- during a general examination – redness of the skin and eyes of the patient, the presence of a rash, lacrimation, difficulty in nasal breathing (sniffing may become its “beacon”). The patient may constantly rub his eyes due to itching or try to scratch the skin imperceptibly;
- at local inspection – marks of scratches on the skin are noted. Because of them, with infection of the skin, inflammatory-pustular lesions of the skin can be observed;
- on palpation (palpation) – to the touch, the skin temperature at the site of visual changes (rash, red spots) may be higher than usual.
With a pronounced reaction of the body, a critical decrease in blood pressure can be observed.
Of the instrumental methods of research in the diagnosis of allergies in pets are used:
- examination of compromised areas of the skin using a magnifier;
- a skin scan using a Wood lamp – is performed to distinguish between affected and unchanged skin areas, which may be important in order to distinguish between skin manifestations of allergies to animals with other dermatological pathologies.
For the purpose of differential diagnosis of allergies in domestic animals with other types of lesions, a broader study of the affected structures may be necessary – primarily the organ of vision, the respiratory system and skin. It:
- chest radiography;
- skin biopsy and so on.
From laboratory research methods in the diagnosis of pet allergies are used:
- general blood test – a moderate increase in the number of eosinophils, which are some of the markers of an allergic reaction of the body, is determined. With the development of the inflammatory reaction, an increase in the number of leukocytes (leukocytosis) and ESR is determined;
- determination of the level of immunoglobin E – its amount is increased;
- precipitation reaction – it is based on the precipitation of allergens in the form of flakes;
- detection of antigens by immunofluorescence.
One of the most reliable methods for diagnosing allergies to domestic animals is allergological tests (tests) – in this case, animal allergens are introduced to the skin, intracutaneously and subcutaneously, after which the body’s response to them is assessed by the size of the papule, the occurrence of redness and rash.
Differential (distinctive) diagnosis of allergies in domestic animals is carried out, as a rule, with such diseases and pathological conditions as:
- urticaria – an allergic skin reaction to various antigens;
- hay fever (or hay fever) – a seasonal reaction to pollen of plants, which is manifested by a runny nose, redness of the conjunctiva (mucous membrane of the eye), in some cases attacks of suffocation;
- food allergy – an allergic reaction to a number of food products (usually strawberries, chocolate, chicken protein);
- allergy to drugs;
- banal conjunctivitis is an inflammatory lesion of the conjunctiva;
- Common dermatitis – inflammation of the skin of various origins;
- Allergic dermatitis – an isolated inflammatory lesion of the skin under the influence of various allergens (food, drugs, and so on);
- bronchial asthma;
- rhinitis – an inflammatory process in the mucous membrane lining the nasal cavity;
- laryngitis – inflammation of the mucous membrane of the larynx;
- Obstructive bronchitis – an inflammatory lesion of the bronchial mucosa with their narrowing.
Allergies to pets can be accompanied by complications such as:
- bronchospasm – a sudden decrease in the lumen of the bronchi with a respiratory failure arising against it;
- polypous rhinitis – the appearance of growths of the mucous membrane of the nasal cavity;
- Anaphylactic shock – a sharp violation of microcirculation on the background of an allergic reaction, followed by a sharp decrease in blood pressure and suffocation;
- infection of the skin with scratching due to itching.
How to get rid of allergies in animals?
The principles for treating pet allergies are the same as for allergies of a different origin. The main postulates are:
- termination of contact with a source of allergens;
- stopping an allergic reaction of tissues;
- relief of inflammatory manifestations;
- symptomatic measures.
In the latter case, it is the elimination of such allergy consequences as:
- choking and so on.
As medical practice shows, the most problematic is the elimination of contact with a pet, which provoked the development of an allergic reaction. But such a need does not arise in all cases. Sometimes an animal becomes a “source” of allergens in case of illness. Stopping the pathology will automatically solve the problem.
The decision about the termination of contact with a pet must be taken especially carefully, if a child with certain deviations is treated with animal therapy – it is based on contact with animals. Thus, autistic children are treated, children with Down syndrome are corrected, and so on. The verdict is jointly issued by an allergist and a pediatrician.
In some cases, it is necessary to make a strong-willed decision and exclude at least for some time contact with a problem animal. After that, in all the rooms in which it was located, a special cleaning is carried out to eliminate elements that can cause an allergic reaction – fluff, wool and so on.
The relief of the patient’s allergic reaction is carried out by traditional methods. The assignments are as follows:
- desensitizing drugs – can be used in various forms depending on the symptoms (in tablets, nasal sprays, eye drops);
- specific immunotherapy. During it, the patient is administered a small amount of allergen for a certain time, so that a person develops tolerance to the effect of allergens;
- glucocorticosteroids – are used to stop allergic reactions with low efficiency of desensitizing drugs or its complete absence.
The relief of inflammatory manifestations is carried out using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Symptomatic measures for allergies to pets are as follows:
- sedatives – they help reduce the severity of itching;
- eye drops containing glucocorticosteroid drugs – for relief of ocular itching;
- beta-adrenergic agonists – help expand the bronchi, improve sputum outflow and others.
In addition, antibacterial drugs can be prescribed – to prevent the development of infection, which can penetrate the tissues through microdamages resulting from scratching against the background of itching.
Prevention measures for the described pathology are:
- avoidance of contact with domestic animals, and if this is impossible, at least its restriction;
- prevention, timely detection and adequate therapy in the development of other types of allergic reactions;
- proper care for animals – measures that will help prevent the spread of fluff, wool and so on throughout the housing;
- the use of household air purifiers, isolation of food products in order to prevent allergens from entering them;
- strict observance of sanitary and hygienic standards in contact with a pet. Elementary hand washing after contact with an animal reduces the risk of allergies by several times;
- a ban on animals on chairs, beds, sofas.
It is impossible to prevent moral trauma during forced separation from a beloved animal. Therefore, taking into account the previously identified tendency to an allergic reaction, one should correctly approach the choice of a pet. If the child is not satisfied with fish or a turtle, you can get a decorative rabbit with hypoallergenic hair as a furry friend. The decision should be made after consultation with an allergist.
The prognosis for animal allergies can be different depending on the severity of the allergic reaction and the degree of patient sensitization. But in general, with a competent medical approach, it is favorable. In case of an unexpressed allergic reaction, the patient may not interrupt contact with his beloved animal, but at the same time he takes desensitizing drugs and undergoes a course of immune Allergies .
The prognosis worsens in patients diagnosed with bronchial asthma or obstructive bronchitis, since contact with the animal can provoke a sharp appearance of bronchial spasm with the subsequent development of an asthma attack.