Asthma sufferers more likely to have allergies including to cats

By Elisa Black-Taylor

There have been several recent scientific studies involving asthma sufferers, cat allergies and the risk of allergies to children born by C-section. Here are a few developments that may be of interest to those of you allergic to cats, especially if you have asthma.

Cat with an asthma inhaler

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A new study at the New Jersey Medical School has shown an increase in the number of asthma sufferers who are also allergic to cats. In the past 20 years, the likelihood of those who suffer from asthma and also are allergic to cats has doubled. Asthma sufferers are also a third more likely than someone without the condition to be allergic to cats, with 60-85% having at least one allergy. Those with asthma are 30% more likely to have allergies than those without.

Dr. Leonard Bielory, leading author of the study says an allergy can strike a person at any age. An allergy can also go away, only to return years later. I can confirm this, as I was severely allergic to cats back in the early 1980’s. I had cats at the time and treated the symptoms. My allergies mysteriously went away when my daughter Laura was born. It’s very rare now for me to suffer an allergy attack.

My daughter Laura is allergic to any new cat she comes in contact with, and the symptoms last for around three days. Then they disappear. We both decided it was easier to treat the symptoms than to live a life without cats.

Dr. James Sublett with the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology believes the New Jersey study will help understand trends and will lead to improved diagnosis and treatment.

Researchers at the University of California found that living with dogs will protect against the development of asthma in children. It was found in dust in the home where dogs are present guard against respiratory syncytial virus, known as RSV, which is common in infants. Perhaps dog danger has some type of organism to prevent RSV. The virus may lead to asthma in an older child.

What I found most interesting comes from the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, where studies show children born by C-section are five times more likely to develop allergies than children born naturally. Scientists believe the mother’s bacteria present in the birth canal can help an infant develop immunity to asthma and allergies.

The November 2013 timing on the release of this information couldn’t have been better. With families getting together for the holidays, many people will likely spend time in a home with at least one cat. Those with asthma should be warned an allergy could develop at any time, even if that person hasn’t been allergic to cats in the past.

In other words, be sure to pack both asthma AND allergy medication when you visit family-just in case.



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8 thoughts on “Asthma sufferers more likely to have allergies including to cats”

  1. I remember taking allergy meds when I was pregnant with Laura. Then after delivery I came home from the hospital allergy-free. Gone. Never figured that one out but I’m so glad. I had sneezing, runny nose and watery eyes. They never came back.

    • I think this is an interesting topic because I had a similar experience. There is not much on the internet about this but it might be quite important. There is lots of stuff about the cat allergy but v.little on self-cures.

      • I’m a big believer in vitamin C and local raw honey. If I get a cold then its alka seltzer cold fizzy tablets to the rescue. I find the C-section study fascinating. First time I ever heard of a baby gaining immunity from the birth canal.

        • That doesn’t surprise me funnily enough. As soon as we alter naturalness we get unforeseen problems. It is like feeding a baby on breast milk rather then commercially available substitutes. There is a lot of protection in the natural milk. Breast is best! 😉

  2. I have asthma and have an allergy to cats.I work with cats at a rescue centre and have 6 cat’s of my own.I keep taking my med’s and don’t intend to change job’s or get rid of my cat’s.

  3. Thanks for this Elisa. For me there are two points of interest.

    1) The inhalers that asthma suffers use contain steroids. This is a medicine of last resort. It just forces the body to work harder. There are side effects. I wonder if the inhalers weaken the body over time and it is that which leads to an increased susceptibility to allergies including to cats.

    2) The fact that you lost your cat allergy over time as did Laura interests me. When I took on Charlie, I was very slightly allergic to him then it went away. This is a nice discussion point. It seems we get used to the allergy. Conversely perhaps steroids make people more sensitive to allergies.

    I have a feeling that it is the medication that makes people more sensitive rather than the asthma or an inherited condition.

    • My house guest a couple weeks ago (when I vanished!) is allergic to cats and asthmatic – as it happens. He brought some Benedryl and another thing I forget the name of. He talked about how one should get used to it and it go away – it did become less of an issue by the second week at my place and the benedryl helped in the first days when he was sneezing badly. We kept his room closed off from the cats. That was hard for me because reducing my cats area by about 25% is a serious thing to do – it wasn’t easy and they weren’t happy about it but it was necessary for him to be able to sleep in there – even so he slept badly from sneezing and coughing he said.


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