Home cats Cat Allergies: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments, Diagnosis cats Allergies

Cat Allergies: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments, Diagnosis cats Allergies

Overview

A cat allergy can contribute to constant allergy symptoms, as exposure can occur at work, school, day care or in other indoor environments, even if a cat is not present.

cat Allergy Symptoms

  • Sneezing
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Facial pain (from nasal congestion)
  • Coughing, chest tightness, shortness of breath and wheezing
  • Watery, red or itchy eyes
  • Skin rash or hives

cat Allergy Management and Treatment

  • Avoid being around cats; if you have a cat at home, take specific steps to limit exposure.
  • Nasal sprays, antihistamines and bronchodilators can help relieve symptoms.
  • Consider  allergy shots (immunotherapy).

Cat Allergies

If your nose runs and your eyes water or you start sneezing and wheezing after petting or playing with a cat, you likely have a cat allergy. A cat allergy can contribute to constant  allergy symptoms, as exposure can occur at work, school, day care or in other indoor environments, even if a cat is not present.

Cats produce multiple allergens (proteins that can cause allergy). These allergens are found on the fur and skin and in saliva. All cats produce allergens; studies have not shown that cats can be hypoallergenic (meaning that they don’t cause allergy). Homes with more than one cat have higher levels of cat allergens. Characteristics such as the length of a cat’s hair, its sex and the amount of time a cat spends indoors are not associated with cat allergen levels.

Dust and pollen in a cat’s coat can also cause allergy symptoms. In those cases, the allergy is to the dust or pollen, not to the cat.

Cat Allergy Symptoms

Cat allergy symptoms range from mild to severe, depending on an individual’s sensitivity and the level of exposure to allergens. Those variables may also influence how quickly symptoms develop after exposure. Highly sensitive people can develop symptoms, including breathing problems or a rash, within minutes of touching a cat or entering a house with a cat.

Cat allergy symptoms may include:

  • Sneezing or a runny or stuffy nose
  • Facial pain (from nasal congestion)
  • Coughing, chest tightness, shortness of breath and wheezing
  • Watery, red or itchy eyes
  • Skin rash or hives

Some people may also develop a rash or hives after being scratched by a cat.

Diagnosing Cat Allergies

Do you suspect you’re suffering from cat allergies? An allergist can provide you with a diagnosis and treatment.

A skin-prick test is the most common way of diagnosing a cat allergy. For this test, a small amount of an extract of cat allergen is placed on your skin. Your skin is then pricked with a small, sterile probe, allowing the liquid to seep under the skin’s surface. You’ll then be monitored for swelling and redness or other signs of a reaction, signaling an allergy. Results typically become evident within 15 to 20 minutes.

Even if you’re sure your symptoms are caused by a cat, it’s a good idea to be tested, since the symptoms may actually be caused by other environmental exposures.

Cat Allergy Management and Treatment

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