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Pet dander allergy

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Related Terms
  • Allergen, allergic, allergic asthma, allergic reaction, allergic response, allergy, allergy shots, animal dander, antibodies, antibody, antigen, asthma, cat allergy, corticosteroid nasal sprays, corticosteroids, cromolyn sodium nasal sprays, dander, immune, decongestant, dog allergy, immune defense system, histamine, hypersensitive, hypersensitivity, hypersensitivity reaction, Ig, IgE, immune-mediated, immune response, immune system, immunoglobulin, immunoglobulin E, immunotherapy, inhaled corticosteroids, inflammation, inflammatory response, long-acting beta agonists long-acting bronchodilators, nasal sprays, oil gland, pet dander, protein, RAST®, sensitization, sensitized, short-acting beta-2 agonists, skin test.

Background
  • Animals secrete oily fluids from their skin, which contain allergens called dander. These fluids collect on fur, feathers and other surfaces inside the home, and they can cause allergic reactions in sensitive people. Proteins in the animal's saliva also cause allergic reactions. These allergens are so small that they can become airborne for extended periods of time.
  • An allergy, or hypersensitivity reaction, occurs when the body's immune system overreacts to a substance that is normally harmless (allergen), such as animal dander, mold, pollen or dust mites. The white blood cells of an allergic individual produce an antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE), which attaches to the allergen. This triggers the release of histamine and other inflammatory chemicals that cause allergic symptoms, such as runny nose, watery eyes and hives.
  • Allergic reactions to pets with fur or feathers are common, especially among people who have other allergies or asthma. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, about 15-30% of people with allergies are allergic to cats and dogs. Individuals who are allergic to dogs may be allergic to all dogs or just certain breeds. Cat allergies are about twice as common as dog allergies.
  • Allergies to animals can take two or more years to develop, and the symptoms may not subside until months after discontinuing contact with the animals.
  • Allergy treatment depends on the severity of symptoms. Many lifestyle changes, such as limiting the pet to certain areas of the home, can be made to reduce allergy symptoms. Commonly used allergy medications include antihistamines, nasal sprays, decongestants and immunotherapy (allergy shots). Patients who have allergic asthma that is triggered by animal dander may benefit from asthma medications.

Author information
  • This information has been edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

Bibliography
  1. American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. . Accessed May 20, 2009.
  2. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Pet Allergies. . Accessed May 20, 2009.
  3. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. . Accessed May 20, 2009.
  4. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. . Copyright © 2009. Accessed May 20, 2009.
  5. The Cleveland Clinic Health Information Center. Allergy Overview. . Accessed May 20, 2009.

Causes
  • Most allergies are inherited, which means they are passed on to children by their parents. Although people inherit a tendency to be allergic, they may not inherit an allergy to the same allergen. When one parent is allergic, their child has a 50% chance of having allergies. That risk jumps to 75% if both parents have allergies.
  • Typically, an allergic response is not triggered the first time the body encounters the allergen. The first or several times after the body is exposed to an allergen, the immune system becomes sensitized. During this process, the body's white blood cells develop immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies to the allergens in the pet dander. Once sensitized, the antibodies quickly detect and bind to the pet dander allergens in the body. These antibodies also trigger the release of chemicals (like histamine) that cause allergic symptoms, such as runny nose, watery eyes and sneezing.
  • Allergies to animals can take two or more years to develop, and allergy symptoms may not subside until months after discontinuing contact with the animal. Individuals who want to keep their animal can make lifestyle changes or take allergy medications like antihistamines to control their symptoms.
  • The actual fur and hair of the animal does not trigger allergic reactions. Animals secrete oily fluids, which contain the allergens. These fluids collect on the fur, feathers and other surfaces inside the home. These allergens are so small that they can become airborne for extended periods of time. Inhaling the airborne allergens can also trigger an allergic reaction. The more the pet sheds or molts, the more pet dander is present. Proteins in the animal's saliva may also be responsible for allergic reactions. These allergens are capable of triggering reactions for several months.
  • Pet dander is often found in homes without animals because the dander can be carried on people's clothing. The allergens become airborne when the animal is petted or groomed, when the animal sheds, molts, or grooms itself or when the air is stirred where the allergens have settled.

Symptoms
  • The severity of allergy symptoms varies among individuals, and does not necessarily correlate with the length of time exposed to the allergen. Individuals who have minor allergies may not experience symptoms until several days after contact with the pet. Highly sensitive individuals may experience symptoms within 15 to 30 minutes of exposure.
  • Common symptoms include stuffy nose, coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, sinusitis (allergic inflammation of the sinuses), allergic rhinitis (inflammation of the nose), as well as swollen, red and itchy eyes. Rhinoconjunctivitis (inflammation of the nose and eyes in response to an allergen) may also occur. Highly sensitive individuals may experience an intense rash on the face, neck and upper chest. If the animal licks an allergic individual, the skin may become red.
  • Allergies are commonly associated with asthma. It is estimated that about 20-30% of people who have asthma may experience a severe asthma attack after contact with a cat. Asthma symptoms may include bronchospasms (abnormal contraction of the bronchi, resulting in airway obstruction), coughing (constantly or intermittently), wheezing or whistling sounds when exhaling, shortness of breath or rapid breathing, chest tightness or chest pain and fatigue.

Diagnosis
  • Skin test: The standard diagnostic test for pet allergies is a skin test. During the test, the skin is exposed to different allergy-causing substances, including pet dander. The skin is then observed for any signs of an allergic reaction. If an allergen triggers an allergic reaction to a test, the patient will develop reddening, swelling or a raised, itchy red wheal (bump) that looks similar to a mosquito bite. The healthcare provider will measure the size of the wheal and record the results. The larger the wheal, the more severe the allergy is. A skin test is typically conducted in a healthcare provider's office, and causes minimal, if any discomfort. The needles used barely penetrate the skin's surface and will not cause bleeding.
  • Allergen-specific immunoglobulin (IgE) test: An allergen-specific immunoglobulin E (IgE) test, commonly referred to as a radioallergosorbent test (RAST®), may also be used to determine whether the patient is allergic to animal dander. However, this test is less accurate than a skin test. The allergen-specific IgE test is usually performed in patients who have severe, coexisting skin diseases (like eczema or psoriasis) that make it difficult to interpret a skin test.
  • The in vitro test is conducted outside of the body in a laboratory setting. During the procedure a sample of blood is taken from the patient. The blood is then sent to a laboratory that performs specific IgE blood tests. The pet dander allergen is bound to an allergosorbent (paper disk). Then the patient's blood is added. If the blood contains antibodies (immunoglobulins that detect and bind to antigens) to the pet dander, the blood will bind to the allergen on the disc. A radiolabelled ANTI-IgE antibody is then added to the disc to measure the level of IgE present in the blood. The higher the radioactivity, the higher the level of IgE in the blood and the more severe the allergy.
  • A qualified healthcare provider will interpret the results of the test. In general, the sensitivity of these tests range from 50-90%, with the average being about 70-75%. Patients receive test results in about 7-14 days.

Treatment
  • General: Allergy treatment depends on the severity of symptoms. The best way to relive allergy symptoms is to avoid exposure to the pet dander. However, environmental changes and allergy medications can help relieve symptoms in individuals who do not want to give up their pets. Commonly used allergy medications include antihistamines, nasal sprays, decongestants and allergen immunotherapy (allergy shots). Patients who have allergic asthma that is caused by animal dander may benefit from asthma medications.
  • Allergen avoidance: The most effective way to relieve allergy symptoms is to avoid exposure to the pet dander allergens. Individuals who have severe allergies may consider giving their pets to a shelter. However, individuals who do not want to give up their pets can minimize their contact with dander. Limiting the pet to certain areas of the home and/or preventing the animal from entering the bedroom may help reduce allergy symptoms. Also, allergic individuals should wash their hands with soap and water after contact with their pet. This removes the allergens from the skin and helps reduce symptoms.
  • Environmental changes: Keep surfaces clean throughout the home to reduce the amount of pet dander. Vacuum carpets and fabric-covered furniture regularly to remove pet dander inside the house. A vacuum cleaner with a double-layered microfilter bag or a high-efficiency particulate hair (HEPA) filter may help remove pet dander. Highly sensitive individuals may consider wearing a dust mask while vacuuming. Using an air cleaner with a HEPA filer may help remove pet allergens from the air. Do not allow the pet on human furniture, which can collect dander.
  • Short-acting antihistamines: Short-acting antihistamines like diphenhydramine (Benadryl®) have been used to relieve mild to moderate allergy symptoms. Most short-acting antihistamines are available over-the-counter. Use cautiously, especially in children because these medications often cause drowsiness, and they have shown to impair cognition in children (even in the absence of drowsiness). However, loratadine (Claritin®), another over-the-counter medication, does not cause drowsiness or affect learning in children.
  • Longer-acting antihistamines: Longer-acting antihistamines like fexofenadine (Allegra®) or cetirizine (Zyrtec®) are available by prescription for mild to moderate allergy symptoms. They cause less drowsiness than short-acting antihistamines, and are equally effective. These medications usually do not interfere with learning. Side effects may include drowsiness, dry mouth, headache, sore throat, stomach pain, vomiting or diarrhea.
  • Nasal corticosteroid sprays: Nasal corticosteroid sprays can effectively relieve allergy symptoms in patients who are not responding to antihistamines. Commonly prescribed corticosteroid sprays include fluticasone (Flonase®), mometasone (Nasonex®), and triamcinolone (Nasacort AQ®).
  • Decongestants: Decongestants like pseudoephedrine (Sudafed® Nasal Decongestant) may help relieve symptoms such as nasal congestion (stuffy nose). These drugs shrink the tissues and blood vessels in the eyes and nose that swell in response to contact with an allergen. Nasal decongestant sprays like oxymetazoline (Afrin®) should not be used more than twice daily for three consecutive days because of rebound nasal congestion (significant return of stuffy nose). Oral decongestants do not cause this effect.
  • Cromolyn sodium: Cromolyn sodium is available as a nasal spray (Nasalcrom®) to treat allergy symptoms that affect the nose, such as sneezing, runny nose, postnasal drip and itchy nose. This medication is most effective when taken before the patient is exposed to known allergens. Cromolyn sodium may take two to four weeks to start working. Eye drop versions are available for itchy, bloodshot eyes.
  • Allergen immunotherapy (allergy shots): Allergen immunotherapy, also known as allergy shots, is often used to treat patients who suffer from severe allergies, or those who experience allergy symptoms more than three months a year. Allergen immunotherapy involves injecting increasing amounts of a diluted allergen into a patient over several months.
  • Asthma medications: If animal dander is causing asthma symptoms, treatment may include inhaled corticosteroids (like Aerobid®, Azmacort®, Beclovent®, Flovent®, Pulmicort® or Vanceril®), long-acting beta agonists (like Serevent®), a combination of inhaled corticosteroids plus long-acting bronchodilators or short-acting beta-2 agonists (like albuterol®), to help open the airways.

Integrative therapies
  • Good scientific evidence:
  • Bromelain: Bromelain has been studied in various clinical studies for sinusitis with mixed results. Further research is necessary.
  • Avoid if allergic to bromelain, pineapple, honeybee, venom, latex, birch pollen, carrots, celery, fennel, cypress pollen, grass pollen, papain, rye flour, wheat flour, or members of the Bromeliaceaefamily. Use cautiously with history of bleeding disorder, stomach ulcers, heart disease, liver or kidney disease. Use caution before dental or surgical procedures or while driving or operating machinery. Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Butterbur: Good scientific evidence suggests that butterbur may be effective for allergic rhinitis prevention in susceptible individuals. Comparisons of butterbur to prescription drugs, such as fexofenadine (Allegra®) and cetirizine (Zyrtec®), have reported similar efficacy. Additional studies are warranted before a firm conclusion can be made.
  • Avoid if allergic or hypersensitive to Petasites hybridus or other plants from the Asteraceae/Compositae family (such as ragweed, marigolds, daisies, and chrysanthemums). Raw, unprocessed butterbur plant should not be eaten due to the risk of liver or kidney damage or cancer. Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Nasal irrigation: There is good evidence from clinical studies to recommend the use of nasal irrigation in the treatment of allergic rhinitis. One study demonstrated that reflexology massage may be equally effective; however, the advantage of irrigation (i.e. inexpensive, performed at home, minimal adverse side effects) makes the technique beneficial. Methodological and statistical reporting are lacking in some of these trials. A well-conducted, randomized controlled trial, fully reporting data would make the case for allergic rhinitis stronger.
  • Early research suggests that nasal irrigation may help treat chronic sinusitis, with improvements in sinus-related quality of life, decreases in symptoms, and decreases in medication use. Further study is needed before a conclusion can be made.
  • Nasal irrigation is generally well tolerated. Use cautiously with history of frequent nosebleeds. If the irrigation liquid is hot, the nose may become irritated.
  • Probiotics: Use of probiotic Enterococcus faecalis bacteria in hypertrophic sinusitis (sinus inflammation) may reduce frequency of relapses and the need for antibiotic therapy. Further research is necessary before a firm conclusion can be made.
  • Probiotics are generally considered safe and well tolerated. Avoid if allergic or hypersensitive to probiotics. Use cautiously if lactose intolerant.
  • Unclear or conflicting scientific evidence:
  • Acupuncture: There is currently insufficient available evidence on which to base recommendations for acupuncture in non-allergic rhinitis. However, studies suggest that it may offer possible benefits. Additionally, more studies are needed of stronger design to determine whether or not acupuncture offers benefit in sinusitis.
  • Acupuncture should be avoided in patients with heart disease, pulmonary disease, infections, bleeding disorders, medical conditions of unknown origin, or neurological disorders. Pregnant women, the elderly, diabetics, people with a history of seizures, and those receiving radiation therapy and/or taking drugs increasing bleeding risks should also avoid acupuncture.
  • Aromatherapy: Despite widespread use in over-the-counter agents and vapors, there is not enough scientific evidence to recommend use of eucalyptus oil as a decongestant-expectorant (by mouth or inhaled form).
  • Essential oils should be administered in a carrier oil to avoid toxicity. Avoid with a history of allergic dermatitis. Use cautiously if driving/operating heavy machinery. Avoid consuming essential oils. Avoid direct contact of undiluted oils with mucous membranes. Use cautiously if pregnant.
  • Black seed: Studies in patients with allergies found that black seed decreased subjective measures of severity of allergies. The effect of black seed for allergies is still not clear and further study is required before a conclusion can be made.
  • Avoid with a known allergy/hypersensitivity to black seed, its constituents, black seed oil, or to members of the Ranunculaceae family. Allergic contact dermatitis has been reported after topical use of black seed or the oil from the seed.
  • Cat's claw: It has been suggested that cat's claw may help treat allergies and related respiratory diseases. However, there is currently limited scientific evidence to support this claim. More well-designed trials are needed to determine whether cat's claw is a beneficial treatment.
  • Avoid if allergic to cat's claw or Uncaria plants or plants in the Rubiaceae family, such as gardenia, coffee, or quinine. Avoid with history of conditions affecting the immune system (such as AIDS, HIV, some types of cancer, multiple sclerosis, tuberculosis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus). Use cautiously with bleeding disorders or with history of stroke, or if taking drugs that may increase the risk of bleeding. Stop use two weeks before surgery/dental/diagnostic procedures with bleeding risk, and do not use immediately after these procedures. Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding. Cat's claw may be contaminated with other Uncaria species. Reports exist of the potentially toxic Texan-grown plant Acacia gregii being substituted for cat's claw.
  • Choline: Oral tricholine citrate (TRI) effectively relieved allergic rhinitis symptoms in limited available study. Further research is needed before a firm conclusion can be made.
  • Choline is generally regarded as safe and appears to be well tolerated. Avoid if allergic to choline, lecithin, or phosphatidylcholine.
  • Ephedra: Preliminary study suggests that ephedrine nasal spray may help treat allergic rhinitis. Additional research is needed before a recommendation can be made.
  • Ephedra taken by mouth can cause serious side effects, including heart attack, seizure, and stroke. Therefore, ephedrine nasal sprays should only be used in the nose. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has collected thousands of reports of serious toxicity linked to ephedra (including over 100 deaths). Ephedra products are banned from dietary supplements because of serious health risks, including heart attack, heart damage, breathing difficulties, and fluid retention in the lungs. Avoid with history of high blood pressure, abnormal heart rate, heart attack, stroke, seizure, eating disorders, anxiety, prostate disease, mental illness, kidney disease, stomach ulcers, heart disease, eye disease, depression, diabetes, thyroid disease, or sleep problems. Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Eucalyptus oil: There is currently insufficient available evidence to recommend either for or against eucalyptus oil as a decongestant-expectorant.
  • Avoid if allergic to eucalyptus oil or with a history of seizure, diabetes, asthma, heart disease, abnormal heart rhythms, intestinal disorders, liver disease, kidney disease, lung disease, or the blood condition known as acute intermittent porphyria. Use caution if driving or operating machinery. A strain of bacteria found on eucalyptus may cause infection. Toxicity has been reported with oral and inhaled use.
  • Honey: Currently, there is insufficient human evidence to recommend honey for the treatment of rhinoconjunctivitis.
  • Avoid if allergic or hypersensitive to honey, pollen, celery or bees. Honey is generally considered safe in recommended doses. Avoid honey from the genus Rhododendron because it may cause a toxic reaction. Avoid in infants younger than 12 months of age. Use cautiously with antibiotics. Potentially harmful contaminants (like C. botulinum or grayanotoxins) can be found in some types of honey and should be used cautiously in pregnant or breastfeeding women.
  • Horseradish: Several studies suggest that some horseradish constituents may offer antibiotic activity and may help treat sinusitis. Additional high-quality clinical studies are needed before a conclusion can be made.
  • Avoid if allergic or hypersensitive to horseradish (Armoracia rusticana), its constituents, or members of the Brassicaceae family. Large oral doses may provoke allergic reactions. Use cautiously with clotting disorders, hypotension (low blood pressure), thyroid disorders, kidney disorders and inflammation, gastrointestinal conditions, and ulcers. Use cautiously if taking anticoagulants or antiplatelets (blood thinning agents), antihypertensives (blood pressure-lowering agents), anti-inflammatory agents, or thyroid hormones. Use cautiously if undergoing treatment for cancer. Avoid medicinal amounts of horseradish if pregnant or breastfeeding; based on herbal textbooks and folkloric precedent, horseradish has been used to induce abortion.
  • Hypnotherapy, hypnosis: It has been suggested that hypnotherapy may be effective for allergies. However, further research is necessary.
  • Use cautiously with mental illnesses such as psychosis/schizophrenia, manic depression, multiple personality disorder, or dissociative disorders. Use cautiously with seizure disorders
  • Kiwi: Conclusive data on kiwi's therapeutic benefits for preventing lung conditions and other respiratory problems is currently lacking. Kiwi and other fruits high in vitamin C may benefit lung conditions in children, especially wheezing. More research is warranted before a recommendation can be made.
  • Avoid if allergic or hypersensitive to kiwi, latex, birch pollen, banana, chestnut, fig, flour, melon, poppy seeds, rye grain, sesame seeds, and related substances. Kiwi is generally considered safe when taken in amounts naturally found in foods. Use cautiously with anti-platelet drugs like aspirin, cilostazol, or clopidogrel. Use cautiously with hormone therapies or serotonergic drugs. Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding because clinical trials testing safety in supplemental doses are currently lacking. The amount found in foods appears to be safe in most people.
  • MSM: According to preliminary clinical study, MSM reduces symptoms associated with seasonal allergic rhinitis (SAR). However, larger controlled trials are needed to confirm these findings.
  • Avoid if allergic or hypersensitive to MSM. Long-term effects of supplementation with MSM have not been examined. Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Onion: Research shows that topical application of an alcoholic onion extract significantly reduced responses to allergies. Although intriguing, more research is needed in this area to establish the efficacy and dosing of topical onion extracts.
  • Avoid if allergic or hypersensitive to onion (Allium cepa), its constituents, or members of the Lilaceae family. Use cautiously with hematologic (blood) disorders, diabetes, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), and hypotension (low blood pressure). Use cautiously if taking anticoagulants or antiplatelets (blood thinners). Avoid medicinal doses if pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Perilla: Preliminary evidence suggests some benefit of perilla extract for seasonal allergies. Further clinical trials are required before conclusions can be made.
  • Avoid if allergic/hypersensitive to perilla or members of the Lamiaciae/Labiatae family. Use cautiously with cancer, low HDL-cholesterol, and immune disorders. Use cautiously if taking NSAIDS or barbiturates. Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Probiotics: Only a few types and combinations of probiotics have been studied as a possible allergy treatment. They have been studied mostly in children, teenagers, and young adults. Further research is necessary before a firm conclusion can be made.
  • Probiotics are generally considered safe and well tolerated. Avoid if allergic or hypersensitive to probiotics. Use cautiously if lactose intolerant.
  • Reflexology: Reflexology involves the application of manual pressure to specific points or areas of the feet called "reflex points" that are believed to correspond to other parts of the body. Results from early studies are not conclusive regarding the use of reflexology for sinus inflammation.
  • Avoid with recent or healing foot fractures, unhealed wounds, or active gout flares affecting the foot. Use cautiously and seek prior medical consultation with osteoarthritis affecting the foot or ankle or with severe vascular disease of the legs or feet. Use cautiously with diabetes, heart disease, unstable blood pressure, cancer, active infections, past episodes of fainting (syncope), mental illness, gallstones, kidney stones, or with a pacemaker. Use cautiously if pregnant or breastfeeding. Reflexology should not delay diagnosis or treatment with more proven techniques or therapies.
  • Shea butter: Shea butter is derived from the nut of the shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa), which grows in West Africa. Limited evidence suggests that shea butter may relieve nasal congestion. More research is needed before a conclusion can be made.
  • Avoid with known allergy/hypersensitivity to shea butter or its constituents. Use cautiously if allergic to latex. Use cautiously if taking anticoagulants. There is currently insufficient available safety evidence for use of shea butter during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
  • Sorrel: Research suggests that an herbal combination preparation containing sorrel, Sinupret®, may have beneficial effects in improving symptoms of sinusitis when used with antibiotics. It is not clear if these same effects would be seen with sorrel alone or what dose may be safe and effective. For allergic rhinitis, there is not enough evidence to make a conclusion at this time. More research of sorrel alone is needed.
  • Avoid sorrel with a known allergy to sorrel or any of its constituents. Avoid large doses of sorrel because there have been reports of toxicity and death. Many tinctures contain high levels of alcohol and should be avoided when driving or operating heavy machinery. Sorrel formulations may cause nausea or vomiting when taken with the prescription drugs metronidazole (Flagyl®) or disulfiram (Antabuse®). Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Spirulina: Anti-inflammatory properties of spirulina may help improve symptoms of allergic rhinitis. However, further high-quality studies are needed to confirm these findings.
  • Avoid if allergic or hypersensitive to spirulina or blue-green algae. Use cautiously with phenylketonuria (a genetic disorder of a liver enzyme that disrupts normal body functions), autoimmune diseases, bleeding disorders, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Use cautiously with products containing the blue-green algae species Anabaena spp., Aphanizomenon spp., and Microcystis spp.; in underweight patients or in those taking antiobesity agents or appetite suppressants; of if consuming a high-protein diet. Avoid in children or if pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Stinging nettle: For many years, a freeze-dried preparation of Urtica dioica has been prescribed by physicians and sold over-the-counter for the treatment of allergic rhinitis. Clinical trials demonstrating statistical significance over placebo and/or equivalence with other available treatments are needed to support the use of nettle in the treatment of allergic rhinitis.
  • Avoid if allergic or hypersensitive to nettle, the Urticaceae family or any ingredient of nettle products. Use cautiously with diabetes, bleeding disorders, and/or low sodium levels in the blood. Use cautiously with diuretics and anti-inflammatory drugs. The elderly should also use nettle cautiously. Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Thymus extract: Thymus extract may reduce allergy symptoms due to its potential immune stimulating effects. More clinical trials are required before recommendations can be made involving thymus extract for this use.
  • Avoid if allergic or hypersensitive to thymus extracts. Use bovine thymus extract supplements cautiously due to potential for exposure to the virus that causes "mad cow disease." Avoid use with an organ transplant or other forms of allografts or xenografts. Avoid if receiving immunosuppressive therapy, with thymic tumors, myasthenia gravis (neuromuscular disorder), untreated hypothyroidism, or if taking hormonal therapy. Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding; thymic extract increases human sperm motility and progression.
  • Vitamin E: Although thought to aid in reducing the nasal symptoms of allergic rhinitis, vitamin E intake may not be effective. Current evidence is limited, however, and more studies are needed before a firm conclusion can be drawn.
  • Avoid if allergic or hypersensitive to vitamin E. For short periods of time, vitamin E supplementation is generally considered safe at doses up to 1,000 milligrams per day. Avoid doses higher than 1,000 milligrams a day. Avoid with retinitis pigmentosa (loss of peripheral vision). Use cautiously with bleeding disorders. The recommended dose of vitamin E for pregnant women of any age is 15 milligrams; for breastfeeding women of any age, the recommended dose is 19 milligrams. Use beyond this level in pregnant women is not recommended.
  • Fair negative scientific evidence:
  • Grape seed: Grape seed has been used to treat immune system disorders due to its antioxidant effects. However, a well-designed human study of allergic rhinitis sufferers showed no improvement in allergy symptoms with administration of grape seed extract ingredients.
  • Avoid if allergic or hypersensitive to grapes or other grape compounds. Use cautiously if taking blood thinners such as warfarin, aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), or anti-platelet agents. Use cautiously with bleeding disorders or if taking drugs that may increase the risk of bleeding. Use cautiously with drugs processed using the liver's "cytochrome P450" enzyme system. Use cautiously with blood pressure disorders or if taking ACE inhibitors. Avoid with disorders that increase the risk of bleeding or with active bleeding disorders (stomach ulcers, bleeding into the brain, etc.). Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Traditional or theoretical uses lacking sufficient evidence:
  • Astragalus: In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), astragalus is commonly found in mixtures with other herbs. Western herbalists began using astragalus in the 1800s as an ingredient in various tonics. Although astragalus has been suggested as a potential treatment for allergies, human research is currently lacking.
  • Avoid if allergic to astragalus, peas, or any related plants or with a history of Quillaja bark-induced asthma. Avoid with aspirin or aspirin products or herbs or supplements with similar effects. Avoid with inflammation (swelling) or fever, stroke, transplants, or autoimmune diseases (like HIV/AIDS). Stop use two weeks before and immediately after surgery/dental/diagnostic procedures with bleeding risks. Use cautiously with bleeding disorders, diabetes, high blood pressure, lipid disorders, or kidney disorders. Use cautiously if taking blood-thinners, blood sugar drugs, diuretics, or herbs and supplements with similar effects. Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Kudzu: Kudzu has been suggested as potential treatment for allergic rhinitis, sinusitis, and hives. However, human studies are currently lacking in this area.
  • Avoid if allergic or hypersensitive to Pueraria lobata or members of the Fabaceae/Leguminosae family. Use cautiously if taking anticoagulants, anti-platelet, blood pressure-lowering agents, hormones, antiarrhythmics, benzodiazepines, bisphosphonates, antidiabetic agents, agents that are broken down by the liver's cytochrome P450 enzymes, mecamylamine, neurologic agents, or methotrexate. There is currently a lack of well-designed studies on the long-term effects of kudzu. Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding.

Prevention
  • Keep surfaces clean throughout the home to reduce the amount of pet dander. Curtains, upholstery and carpets are most likely to accumulate pet dander. Therefore, pets should not be allowed on human furniture.
  • Vacuum carpets and fabric-covered furniture regularly to remove pet dander inside the home. Use a vacuum cleaner with a double-layered microfilter bag or a high-efficiency particulate hair (HEPA) filter. Highly sensitive individuals may consider wearing a dust mask while vacuuming.
  • Using an air cleaner with a HEPA filer may help remove pet allergens from the air.
  • Regularly clean the animal's bed and litter box.
  • Bathe the pet often. Dry the pet after washing, and wash the towel.
  • Sleep with the bedroom door closed to keep pet out.
  • Brushing the pet may suspend dander into the air. Therefore, pets should be groomed outdoors by an individual who is not allergic.

Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)


The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.

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