Surprise: How keeping cats as pets can aggravate asthma attack

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By Lucy Osuizigbo

An Awka-based medical practitioner, Mrs Mary Mbelu, says keeping cats as pets can aggravate Asthma attack in the sufferer.

Mbelu, a former Director of Nursing, Odumegwu Ojukwu School of Nursing in Anambra, made this known to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Awka.

She said that cat’s fur or hair could collect allergens such as dust or pollen substances that cause allergic reactions.

According to her, Asthma condition is characterised by recurring respiratory symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest tightening.

“The symptoms are variable and can fluctuate for each individual over time.

“Symptoms of asthma can be caused by triggers such as tobacco smoke, dust mites, body sprays, insecticides, air pollution, pollen, mold, respiratory infections, physical activity and cold.

“Human contact with cats can also trigger the symptoms.

“When you keep the cat as pets, its fur or hair carries allergens like dust and pollen, and they can be stirred into the air when the cat is petted or groomed.

“These airborne particles are small enough to get into the lungs. For some people, this exposure can cause severe breathing problems.

“Highly sensitive people can begin coughing, wheezing and have shortness of breath within 15 to 30 minutes of inhaling allergens.

“Cat allergies also can lead to chronic asthma, ” she said

Mbelu said that managing asthma usually involved avoiding asthma triggers, and taking prescribed medications to prevent or treat the symptoms.

She said that the best treatment was to avoid contact with cats or areas where they live.

“Keep pets out of your home. If possible, try to avoid cats; this may give you enough relief that you will not need medicine.

“Another way of avoiding Asthma symptoms is when you avoid living where Hibiscus flowers are planted.

“The flowers produces very heavy pollen into the atmosphere and it can be inhaled. This can also trigger asthma attack.

“Don’t use body sprays, rather use drop perfumes to avoid triggering asthma attack,” she advised.

According to statistics by the Nigerian Thoracic Society (NTS) in May, no fewer than 15 million people have Asthma in Nigeria.


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