Allergy assistance

Betsy (the Very Serious Girlfriend) has just horrible allergies, and she’s been miserable for the last couple of months.

She’s already getting desensitization shots, so that’s covered. During the day at work she’s fine, but at home she’s miserable. So I’m working on what to do at home to help - if work is reasonable due to high-end HVAC filtering, maybe I can replicate some of that at home.

Here’s what I’ve collected so far - any recommendations for effectiveness? We can’t immediately rip up all the carpet, but anything else is doable.

Dust mites

  • Allergen covers on mattresses & pillows
  • Wash bedding in really hot water.


  • Air cleaning devices - pleated filters on the portable air conditioner, and heater.
  • Those air cleaner systems Consumer Reports insist don’t work.
  • Seal the bedroom air ducts and use a portable room heater instead.
  • Already shaving the cat to keep her hair under control; wash her too.
  • Vacuum, mop, & dust twice a week.
  • Make sure there’s not some big mold deposit in the house that we’re missing.
  • Get the air ducts cleaned.
  • Adjust and clean furniture that traps dust (horizontal blinds, bookshelves).

Exile cat from bedroom and clean the Hell out of it (both the cat and the bedroom). Also, have her wash all of her clothes. If worse comes to worst, I’d borrow/rent a steam cleaner and get a bottle of anti-allergen steam cleaner fluid (at any local grocery store) and do the carpets up right. You can half-ass it with some of powdered shit for the regular vacuum. Speaking of which, is your vacuum up to snuff (no pun intended)? I’d invest in a new one.

Get some Flo-Nase for the bad attacks.

Has she been tested to find out what she’s actually allergic to?

Yeah, if she hasn’t been tested it’s hard to trouble shoot. The test sucks… I’ve done it. It takes about as long as getting a tattoo, hurts worse, and doesn’t leave you with any cool art. Then you get to see which pokes turn into big fat itchy welts.

Seriously though – I know asking a cat lover to get rid of their pet is like asking a parent to dispose of a child, but it’s your most likely culprit for Betsy’s misery.

The other big ones you may have missed: do you use fabric softener? scented detergent? cologne? Any fragrance-type-thing can set allergics off at seemingly trivial contact.

  1. get skin tested
  2. get rid of the cat or get rid of the girlfriend
  3. get her pregnant – some weak evidence to show allergies reduce with pregnancy (and age)

Isn’t it obvious? Get rid of the cat.

I can’t believe you’re shaving the cat. How do you manage that, anyhow? If that actually worked, my wife would love it. She has been cat deprived for going on ten years. Every now and again she tries to send me on a guilt trip, but I just ignore it. One of the benefits of a Catholic upbringing.

I have terrible allergies myself and I have never been able to date anyone with a cat. Before I was married, if friends tried to fix me up with someone, “Cats?” was always the second question, right after “Kids?”

You would be surprised how hard it was to get a date in Manhattan in the 90s, if you were unwilling to put up with either.

It’s medieval.

Yep to Bill and Steve. I’m allergic to housedust, too. Sniffle and sneeze a little in dusty places. But dead in hours if exposed to rooms that have had cats living in them.

Sorry, man; it’s not the dust, or mold, or the HVAC system, or rainy-ass Renton. Closing the vents in the bedroom won’t help, and neither will allergen-fighting bed/pillow sacks. Tried 'em all. The cat gets on everything and I bet, despite the washing and shaving, your carpets are more dander than carpet by this point.

The answer is to let the cat go and move to a new place that hasn’t had cats in it, or buy stock in Kleenex.

If the problem is cat allegies, which I have in spades, that will never work. One or the other will have to go. A common mistake is to think that it’s the cat’s hair that causes the problem, but it’s not. A more common trigger is cat saliva. Cats, notoriously clean creatures that they are, clean themselves throughly with the stuff and then that saliva is inevitably rubbed on every available surface. If the allergies are severe enough, the cat and the girlfriend won’t ever be able to coexist. Get a test done to see what the source of the problem is. You may have a tough decision ahead of you.

If you post pictures of your girlfriend, we can help you decide whether the cat is more important or not.

Forgot to mention, I’m as allergic to hairless and shorthair cats as I any other kind. The hair really isn’t the issue, it’s the saliva.

>Betsy (the Very Serious Girlfriend) has just horrible allergies, and she’s been miserable for the last couple of months.

Is the last couple of months the first time, or is this a chronic/annual thing? It’s probably not (just) the cat if this happens at this time of year every year.

I feel for you (and her). I just started getting the shots about a year and a half ago, though I’m not sure whether they help.

When I went to the doctor, they gave me a big list and actual product catalog of things you can buy to knock down whatever little particles cause common allergies. Those that I can remember have already been mentioned, but if I think of it I will look for the info and see if I can come up with anything more.

My favorite story. The doctor also prescribed Allegra, so I take both those and the shots.

Doctor: “So, are you feeling better?”
Me: “Yes, though I still have the allergic reactions more than I would like, they are probably better than they were.”
Doctor: “So, would you say the shots are helping?”
Me: “Since I’m taking both the shots and Allegra, how would I know whether it’s the shots or Allegra that is helping? Should I stop taking the Allegra and see if I get worse?”
Doctor: “No, you definitely wouldn’t want to stop taking the Allegra. But do you think the shots are helping?”
Me: “Since I started taking the shots and Allegra at the same time, how would I know if it’s one or the other that is helping, or possibly both?”
Doctor: “Well, do you feel better?”
Me: <Ending conversation> “Um, yeah, I feel better.”

So incredibly insensitive, I wish I’d posted it. We could have a poll!

Well, I do want to point out that my wife often cites her own cat allergies and the fact that she had a cat with her previous partner for close to ten years. If you don’t mind loading up on the meds and it’s not hitting you too bad, anything is possible. I understand if you tough it out, you start to build up immunity. I have not experienced this personally, but I am a wussy when it comes to feeling sneezy with itchy eyes. Sometimes it literally feels like I can’t breath, if I enter a house that has a lot of cats.

Oh god I had to get the test done at least 3 times in my life. Horrible stuff, especially since I’m allergic to nature.(I have parents allergies, my own allergies). If she is allergic to cats then getting rid of the cat at this point won’t help, as fur could have spread thru out the house by now. The last owner of the house I’m in now had a cat and I still get horribly stuffed up .

If your looking for medication and sprays that help, I use Rhinocort and that opens me up fast, and if things get too bad like right now I take semprex D. Then again I don’t know exactily what your girl friend is allergic to, as I get 3 shots a month to help as well.

On the cat front… I’d never suggest getting rid of a cat you like. But if you’re not that attached to it and know someone who’ll take it… Or at least when it comes time to move on to the next cat due to natural causes… Get a Maine Coon cat. Their hair/dander doesn’t trigger the allergies in most allergic people.

More importantly, what makes her so damn serious?

Amanda gets pretty bad allergy attacks. I help her deal with them by saying “aww, poor thing!” and giving her a big hug and kiss on the forehead.

Yeah, that really helps when your lungs close up to the point you can’t breathe anymore…

I’ve found air filtration helps out my allergies a considerable amount, especially at night while sleeping. I bought one of those Ionic Breeze things (although the cheap Ionic Pro version, not the butt-rape price model of the Breeze). I have one of these bad boys running 24/7 in my bedroom. It could be a worthy investment for you.

Jesus. Alergic to your parents. Now that’s a bad allergy!