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Pet Allergy - Are you allergic to Animals?

About 10% of us are allergic to animals in one way or another. We all know that pets provide companionship, however people with allergies should be cautious in deciding what type of pet they can safely bring into their home. Pet dander can cause sneezing and wheezing. Dander is actually skin flakes, not animal fur which is a common misunderstanding. However, pet hair or fur can also harbour pollen, dust and mould which also brings on allergic reactions.

The most common household pets are dogs, cats, birds, hamsters, rabbits, mice, gerbils, rats and guinea pigs. Both feathers and the droppings from birds, another common pet, can increase allergen exposure. Allergy sufferers should not use feather pillows. Bird droppings can also be a source of bacteria, dust, fungi and mould which also applies to the droppings of other caged pets, such as gerbils, hamsters and mice.

If a family is unwilling to give up their pet, it should at least be kept out of the allergy sufferer's bedroom and, if possible, outdoors. Allergic individuals should not pet, hug or kiss their pets because of the allergens on the animal's fur or saliva. Indoor pets should be restricted to as few rooms in the home as possible. Isolating the pet to one room, however this will not limit the allergens to that room. Air currents from air-conditioning will spread allergens throughout the house. Homes can be fitted with a central air cleaner which can potentially remove significant amounts of pet allergens from the home. Litter boxes should be placed in an area unconnected to the air supply for the rest of the home, and should be avoided by allergic individuals.

Importance of Hepa Filters when Vacuuming

Allergy sufferers should regularly vacuum carpets and soft furnishings using a powerful, modern vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. The letters in the word HEPA stand for High Efficiency Particulate Arrestance. HEPA filters are regarded as the best form of air filtration. Simply sweeping the home could actually make allergies worse because it may stir up pet hair and dust mites. For a filter to be called a "true" HEPA, it must retain and filter out all particles from the air that passes through it down to 0.3 microns in size at an efficiency rating of 99.97%. HEPA air filters have also been shown to trap a large amount of dust and animal allergen which floats through the air.

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