Why Air Purifiers are Key to Fighting Pet Allergies
Animal allergies are relatively common, and though most people who have them experience only moderate symptoms, they can be severe for some. Despite their familiarity, pet allergies may not always be understood, even by people who have them. The first step to protecting yourself from uncomfortable, or even dangerous, allergy symptoms is to learn more about pet dander and see what you're up against.
What Causes Pet Allergies?
People often assume that pet hair is what's making them sick. It makes sense - with all that hair floating around through the air or clinging to your clothes, it's a prime suspect. However, the actual source of the allergens that cause so much trouble runs deeper. When you have an allergic reaction to an animal, you're really reacting to dander - small flakes of skin that animals frequently shed - according to Animal Planet. Other allergens come from pets' saliva and urine glands.
All of these can collect on a pet's fur and spread throughout the home when the animal sheds, but dander will also float through the air on its own. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, dander can stick to many different surfaces and cause allergic reactions for a long time. That means that there may be pet dander floating through your home even if no animals have lived there for a long time. If an animal used to live there, the dander that it shed can still circulate through the house. Pet dander can also get stuck to your clothes when you're outside and hitch a ride home with you.
Purifying With Pets
Although pet dander can be stubborn, there are ways of dealing with it that don't involve kicking Fluffy to the curb. Animal Planet recommended using an ionizing or HEPA-type air purifier to help defeat dander. HEPA air purifiers, such as the Holmes® True HEPA Allergen Remover, have powerful filters that can collect irritants as small as 0.3 microns across - that's several times smaller than the width of a human hair. Ionizing purifiers work differently, imbuing contaminants with an electric charge that causes them to cling to nearby surfaces.
Whichever type of air purifier you go with, it's important to also clean your home thoroughly. Even when your air is clean, allergens stuck to walls, carpets and furniture in your home can still become dislodged and cause problems down the line. The AAFA also suggested keeping your pets out of the bedroom, since you're likely to spend quite a few hours there each night. Be sure to clean your bedroom regularly anyway, since pet dander can migrate from other parts of the house. Carpeted floors create a lot of hiding places for dander, so the AAFA advised against them. It may be best to use throw rugs rather than covering the whole floor in carpet, but the source said that low-pile carpets are best if that's not an option for you.