Your pets are your family. But they also may be allergy triggers.

Statistics show that one in five Americans will develop an allergy at some point during their lifetimes. And for those whose parents both have allergies, the chance jumps to seven in 10. An allergic reaction essentially is an overreaction of the immune system against an otherwise harmless antigen. Resulting symptoms can run the gamut from mild sneezing to breaking out in hives to potentially fatal anaphylaxis, a severe, whole-body allergic reaction.

Potential allergens are everywhere. But a few of the most common are:

  • Dust Mites: These microscopic bugs actually are relatives of the spider. They burrow into mattresses, bedding, upholstered furniture, carpets and curtains and feed on pollen, fungi, bacteria and dead skin cells shed by humans and animals daily.
  • Insect bites and stings: Venom left behind by honeybees, yellow jackets, hornets, wasps and fire ants can cause a range of mild to severe allergic reactions including itching, hives, low blood pressure, difficulty breathing and swelling of the face, mouth, tongue and throat.
  • Molds: Persistently damp or wet areas like bathrooms, basements that lack adequate ventilation and heating and air conditioning ducts with trapped moisture are breeding grounds for multiple types of mold, all of which can trigger allergies.
  • Pet dander: Your four-legged family members no doubt are an important part of your life. But they also can be tough on your allergies, thanks to pet dander, a protein mix secreted in an animal’s skin and saliva that can provoke allergic reactions.
  • Pollen: Trees, grasses, weeds and flowers of all varieties produce pollen that can trigger seasonal allergies or hay fever, particularly during the coming spring and summer seasons. Most result in irritating, but non-life-threatening reactions like sneezing, runny nose and watery or itchy eyes.

Other common culprits are latex, fragrances and certain foods and medications. You can help keep allergies at bay by keeping your home clean and free of dust, installing a home air filtration system, switching out your air conditioning filters at least one a month and making sure Fluffy and Fido get regular baths or grooming.

If you suspect you’ve developed an allergy, Metropolitan Dermatology can help with testing to determine just what your allergen may be and tailored treatment. Contact us in Clark at 732-574-1399; Kearny at 201-997-8008; or Teaneck at 201-837-3939 to schedule a consultation today.

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