Some individuals are allergic to household and exotic animals particularly to cats or dogs. On the other hand, down feather allergy can also trigger an allergic reaction that can be mild or severe. Luckily, down feather can be easily managed with changes in the lifestyle as well as over-the-counter and prescription medications.
What are the possible causes of down feather allergy?
It is a known fact that all allergies are triggered by the overproduction of immunoglobulins which are proteins that target infections in the body. An individual with an allergy develops immunoglobulins that are highly sensitive to certain substances or materials.
Those who are allergic to birds or their feathers can be triggered by various sources. An individual can also be allergic to down that are the fluffy feathers that makes up the base of a feather. Once an individual gets in contact with down from the bird itself or an indirect source such as down pillow, the immunoglobulins will initiate an allergic reaction in order to alert the body of the perceived threat.
Symptoms of down feather allergy
If an individual has down feather allergy, the following symptoms are likely to manifest upon exposure to the allergen.
- Watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Itchy skin
- Respiratory distress
Take note that persistent irritation of the skin can eventually lead to eczema. As for severe allergic reactions to down feathers, it can lead to a life-threatening asthma attack in which the airway swells, limiting the flow of air to the lungs and bodily organs. This would require immediate emergency care. If not treated right away, it can be deadly.
How to prevent an allergic reaction
Down feather allergy can be prevented by avoiding all sources of down feathers including feather pillows, down comforters, farm fowls and birds. It is recommended to install an air filtration system at home to eliminate down from the air.
In some cases, the allergy can be managed by providing over-the-counter or prescription medications to the individual. These medications work by suppressing the symptoms. The doctor can also provide allergy shots that contain small amounts of the down serum. These are injected for a span of several months so that the body will establish a level of immunity but it will not ensure full relief.
Diagnosing the allergy
The best way to determine if an individual has down allergy is to undergo proper testing. The doctor will review the symptoms of experienced by the individual and ask if he/she has been exposed to down feathers. Allergy tests are performed in order to rule out other possible allergies.
During a skin prick test, a small amount of the allergen is introduced into the skin. If the skin reacts, a rash will appear, indicating that the individual is allergic to down feathers. Another test that can be performed is a blood test which determines the presence of antibodies in the body.