Environmental Sensitivity, also called Environmental Illness (ES or EI), occurs when a person experiences adverse reactions to substances or circumstances in their surroundings. For example, someone who suddenly develops a rash from the laundry detergent they’ve been using for years has developed an environmental sensitivity. Environmental Sensitivity is also known as Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, sick building syndrome, or idiopathic environmental intolerance.
Pet allergies are incredibly common, affecting as many as 30% of people across the nation being allergic to animals such as cats, dogs, horses and other animals. Cat allergies are by far the most common.
Like other allergies, pet sensitivity is caused when the immune system overreacts to the presence of a foreign substance that normally would have no effect on most people. When it reacts, it produces a number of substances including histamines and Immunoglobulin E (IgE) which cause the typical symptoms of an allergic reaction.
In pets, allergens (proteins) are found in saliva, urine and skin secretions and collect in pet fur, fabrics, furniture and even walls. These allergens, as a result, are found just about everywhere, even places where animals don’t live, carried there by people who do own pets.
Many people to believe that the pet’s fur is what is causing the allergies, however, it is the proteins from the skin, saliva and urine that are carried on the fur. This is why some hairless pets that are billed as hypoallergenic can still provoke reactions in people with pet sensitivity.
Among the most common of these are proteins called Fel d I, found in cats, and the Can f I and Can f II proteins produced by dogs. When saliva dries, these proteins are left behind and can become airborne.
Environmental sensitivity can result from exposure to a broad variety of phenomena or substances at work and home. This can include scented products, laundry detergent, cleaning products, paint, cigarette smoke, pesticides, plants, pets, fuels, molds, food substances, chemicals, and even radiation from electrical gadgets.
The symptoms of this illness are broad and varied. These can include itching, sneezing, chest pain, heart palpitations, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, congestion, shortness of breath, stiffness, rashes, digestive problems, confusion, memory issues and more.
The causes of this disease are not as well known. Many physicians believe that the sensitivity is akin to allergies; others believe that extreme sensory sensitivity can be at fault. In the end, the determining factor is that these people are sensitive to certain levels of chemicals or substances that are normally safe and acceptable for most people.
The tricky part of treating ES is that it is hard to diagnose. Some doctors use antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs or even treatments for specific symptoms. Many people learn to avoid those things to which they are sensitive; this approach, however, can be a burden. It takes a doctor with a great deal of experience to address the problems these patients face, and the doctors at Joann Blessing-Moore, MD Inc have experience treating patients with ES throughout the Palo Alto and San Mateo regions.
Pet Sensitivity is treated by environmental controls, medications and immunotherapy, which provides 85 percent control 85 percent of the time. The first step, however, is diagnosis. Dr. Blessing-Moore and Dr. Maskatia will first examine a patient to determine their level of sensitivity to the animal, and then provide the patient with an effective action plan.