Allergies can be incredibly frustrating -- especially if you're the type of person who enjoys having pets. Many families don't even discover that their children have allergies to their pets long after their pets have been a part of their household, and what then? The good news is that allergies are generally manageable in your home, but first you need to dispense with a few common myths.
1. There Are Hypoallergenic Animals
There are many animals that are touted as being hypoallergenic, but this often stems from a confusion regarding what allergies are caused by. Allergies are commonly caused by dander; skin cells and dried saliva on the surface of the animal's coat. Certain types of animal, such as poodles, have coats that are less likely to spread dander, but no animal is hypoallergenic. Frequent brushing and bathing of an animal can reduce allergies, instead.
2. Allergies Are Unavoidable
It's commonly believed that if you're allergic to something, you're simply allergic; if you're exposed, you'll have an allergic reaction. But most allergies actually have a tipping point; you won't notice any symptoms or issues until you have been exposed to enough of an allergen. This is why it may seem like you can be around cats or dogs sometimes and then suddenly have a reaction. It's important to keep up on cleanliness and home maintenance; the second a "tipping point" reaction occurs, a full allergic attack may be imminent. By controlling cleanliness, some people can live in homes with pets they are allergic to without any reaction at all.
3. It's All About Vacuuming and Dusting
Many people address the visible signs of allergens -- mostly dust and fur. But though this is one part of it, it's only a small part of it. Most people aren't allergic to touching fur, but rather to having dander on their face or eyes, or being exposed to it within the air. It's important to address air quality first. Most homes have a central air system which circulates air -- and dust, and allergens.
4. Allergies Can't Be Dangerous
Finally, though allergies can be fairly easily managed, they shouldn't be ignored. Allergies can be dangerous, especially in those who have weak immune systems -- such as the elderly and children. Allergies further lower immune response, which can make all health problems more difficult to recover from and potentially more serious.
Allergies are, at their core, mostly about air quality. As long as you keep a tidy home, there should be very few physical skin reactions -- you just need to make sure you aren't breathing in pet dirt and dander. Ideally, this can be achieved by changing your filters frequently and cleaning out your ducts.
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