Q: I have asthma, and I've discovered that it's being aggravated by an allergy to my dog. What can I do?
A: So many of us who love dogs suffer from allergies, but we put up with sneezing, sniffling, itchy eyes, wheezing and more because we don't want to live without them.
There's no cure, but there are things you can try to relieve your symptoms. Here are some that have helped me and others:
For nasal allergy symptoms, ask your doctor about prescription or over-the-counter antihistamines, corticosteroid nasal sprays, decongestants or leukotriene modifiers, which block the action of certain immune system chemicals. You may want to consider immunotherapy (allergy shots), to help reduce your immune system's sensitivity to an allergen. An allergist can suggest a treatment plan for your particular symptoms.
Bathe your dog weekly to keep down dander. Have a family member or groomer do it to reduce your exposure. Putting your dog in a onesie or doggy T-shirt can also help to keep dander on the dog, not floating around in the air.
Vacuum (using one with a HEPA filter) frequently, including furniture and curtains. If possible, replace wall-to-wall carpet with hard flooring and use area rugs that can be machine-washed and dried.
Don't let your dog share your bed or bedroom. If that's not possible, wash bedding often, and put allergen-blocking covers on the mattress and box spring. Cover bedding with a clean sheet for your dog to lie on, and change it daily. Consider getting an air purifier for the room, and change the filter often.
Put a washable cover on furniture that you share with your dog. Sweep, vacuum and mop floors often, including baseboards. Hair and dander hide out there.
Finally, after touching your dog, be sure to wash your hands before you touch your face.
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