If you can't avoid living with them (allergens), how do you manage allergies on a daily basis?
Living with allergies, disguised as furry pets.
One of the first questions might be, how bad is the allergy? How bad is your reaction to the allergen? If your throat swells right up and you've been told to carry this little packet (with a syringe full of adrenalin) with you at all times, your options on dealing with the allergen are going to somewhat more restrictive than if your only response is the slightly more mundane, but often seen runny nose and slightly swollen eyes.
If you are allergic to mold, your avoidance procedures might be as simple as staying out of the basement. If you've developed an allergy to the family cat, you've got a problem. I was once engaged to a lovely young woman with a beautiful orange tiger striped cat. Although it was clear the cat was darn near killing me in that he triggered asthma attacks and a continually runny nose and bloodshot eyes, I was never quite certain who was actually going to leave the household, the cat or myself, until he was actually placed in a new home.
You are fortunate to live in an age when you have a variety of antihistamine measures you can take. Claritan has relatively few drowsie side effects compared to the older Chlorpheniramine Maleate, and you only take it once a day as opposed to every 4 hours.
If that isn't enough are a couple of nasal sprays which are based on beclomethasone dipropionate, a strong inhaler based medicine which acts by reducing inflammation on the nasal passages without the widespread side effects that prednisone has.
The Claritan is over the counter now, but the inhaler you will need a Doctor's prescription for. Using a HEPA type filter on your vacuum, or getting a new vacuum which accepts these super filter helps make sure that regular cleaning actually does something besides just stirring up and blowing around the allergens in the house.
If the allergen is not quite clear you might get tested a process which helps define exactly what you are allergic to. Sometimes you allergist will recommend a series of de-sensitization shots, in which you are given gradually increasing micro-doses of the allergen, and in theory you gradually build up a resistance to it.
There are a lot of options that did not exist even 30 years ago, though the most effective of them wil require you visit your doctor and possibly an allergist as well.
KateWest,who posted the original question, clarified a bit asking about actual interactions with pets and adapting to them, hoping for forst person responses...
That, KateWest, is a slightly different matter. I can't speak generally about that as I know only my own history, but that might be illustrative.
When I was around 12 my mother came home with a kitten one day, a dicey proposition as I had severe asthma as a kid (still do, as a matter of fact) The cat lived in the same house with me until I moved out at around age 20. I had no major problem except if I forgot to wash my hands after touching it.
When an animal moves in, it takes a while until the domicile is completely covered with cat hair and dander, saturated, as it were. I assume that, as the level of "cat" rose, I somehow adapted to it.
It so happens I did not return to my mothers house for about 8 years, and lived in a "cat free" environment during that time. When I walked into that house after an 8 year absence, I could not breathe, literally, I had such a severe asthma attack. By now the cat had lived there for 16 years and we can assumeit was a very "cat rich" environment. I had to actually stay with my sister who lived nearby.
The following year, my mother came to visit, bringing the cat. In my home, which was cat free, I was OK, the cat could not "pollute" it that quickly. The cat expired about a year later at age 18.
Three years ago a stray cat adopted me. I could not resist feeding it, it was hanging around and looked so pitiful and I couldn't bear to call the animal control. This relationship seems to be doing OK, as the cat is outside a lot and in any event, we started from zero cat and built upward in the "pollution" level.
So there are a lot of variables to consider. Are you going to live with the animals, or work in their "home"? or are they coming to live with you, are you all starting out in a neutral space?
If you are entering an animal rich environment, you might have to rely on the meds for a while, which can be months or years depending on your level of allergies, and you might develope a natural tolerance, after time, as it seemed I did on two occasions.
Regrettably, I had a strong and virulent reaction to my fiance's cat the moment it moved into my house, which was a bummer as he was a pretty cool cat. My fiance was less than thrilled to have to give him away as well. As a note of warning, my fiance did not seem to fully understand how much of an effect the cat had on me, or did not wish to accept that it had such an effect, and actually getting the cat out of the house was very painful, with "you did not try hard enough" accusation just barely below the surface. This was unsettling...
So, to sum it up. You really can't predict too much as to what "might" happen, most of it is a wait and see.
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