Allergy Awareness Week: Allergies to Pet Dander and Pollen
Allergy Awareness Week (24th – 30th April) is run by Allergy UK, who organise a series of awareness weeks throughout the year. The aim of Allergy Awareness Week is to highlight the issues faced by those with allergies.
We spoke to The ID Band Company customer Allie, 32, to find out how she manages her allergies, and why she thinks it’s important to raise awareness. She suffers from two of the most common allergies, which have caused her to have severe allergic reactions.
“I think it’s good to raise awareness about allergies, and how they affect people’s day to day lives. It’s also important to know how we can help each other.
“Since I’ve developed my allergies, my friends and family have started making a conscious effort to minimise risks when I visit.”
Allergic Reactions to Pet Dander
Allie started experiencing allergic reactions a few years ago. Her allergies cause uncomfortable symptoms including urticaria, which is an itchy rash, also known as hives.
“I wasn’t born with my allergies. My pet dander allergy surfaced in 2008, and the hay fever started in December 2016. These allergies make my eyes swell and itch, causing my airways to close. If it’s really bad, I come out in urticaria.”
A pet dander allergy is caused by the spread of a pet’s hair and skin cells, which happens while they’re being stroked or groomed.
“I have grown up with animals, and I was always playing with dogs and cats. When I moved away from home in 2008, I was no longer in the animal environment. When I next went home, the family cat caused my eyes to swell shut, and I came out in a hot, itchy rash.
“I recently helped a friend at a horse stable, and it led to one eye being swollen shut for several days, and my airways started to close.”
Hay fever is an allergic reaction to pollen, a fine powder which is produced by grass, trees and plants. It’s more common during the spring and summer months when plants are in bloom.
Hay fever affects up to one in five people, and it can occur at any point during a person’s life. As with all allergies, the severity of the reaction differs with each person. There currently isn’t a cure for the allergy, but it can be managed with treatment.
“Hay fever is fairly new to me. In December 2016 I went to visit my friend’s horse, and I was helping out. I was in the tack room and couldn’t stop coughing because of all the hay and straw.”
Receiving a Diagnosis
In December 2016, Allie visited a doctor about her allergies, and she was supplied with medication suitable for both precautions and emergencies.
“I have to carry an EpiPen and anti-histamine tablets with me at all times because the reactions happen so quickly.”
An EpiPen is used to administer epinephrine in the event of an extreme allergic reaction or anaphylaxis. Epinephrine is also known as adrenaline. Providing your body with adrenaline during a reaction makes the blood vessels constrict, which increases blood pressure. It also relaxes muscles in the lungs to improve breathing and reduce hives and facial swelling.
It’s important to teach close friends and loved-ones how to use the EpiPen, so they can help out in an emergency if necessary.
“Make sure everyone around you is aware that you have an allergy. Also, educate others on how to administer the remedy, should you have a reaction.”
Managing Allergies with Daily Life
Pet dander and pollen are common allergies that can be hard to avoid – especially if you like to get out and about in your spare time. Allie takes precautions to ensure she’s at minimum risk.
“I take an anti-histamine tablet before going for walks or runs in the countryside. If I don’t, then my nose blocks up, and I can’t breathe properly – it’s like getting a cold!
“I take the anti-histamine tablets and have my EpiPen with me at all times. Having allergies has made me more aware of my surroundings. I keep away from animals where I can, and I have to be more organised.”
“I can stroke animals, as long as it isn’t for too long, and I wash my hands thoroughly afterwards.
“Remembering I have an allergy to animals is the biggest challenge – I am a big animal lover, and I have to remind myself I can’t get down and play!”
Medical ID Jewellery
Medical ID jewellery is designed to save time in the event of an emergency. An allergic reaction can escalate very quickly, so displaying allergy information means that the correct medicine can be administered as soon as possible.
She engraved the phrase “EpiPen / Pet Allergy” to effectively communicate her condition. This alerts others to search for an EpiPen on Allie’s person so that they can help her in an emergency.
“My bracelet is gorgeous! Who says having an allergy has to mean boring medical bracelets? I am wearing my lovely bracelet with pride, and can relax knowing I am safe too.”