Feasible to recover from chest tightness/dry cough with a dog around?
November 21, 2014 1:47 AM   Subscribe

I currently have chest tightness since this past July. I used to have asthma as a kid. I've gone to my primary care doctor about 3-4 times already. The following tests were performed:

Chest X-ray, spirometry (breathing test), oxygen saturation test, and blood work. The 1st three tests didn't show anything abnormal. The blood work did show that I had an allergic reaction. The nurse who called me over the phone about the lab results didn't know/specify the type of allergic reaction, and I was under the impression that it was most likely pet dander from my girlfriend's dog that stays indoors a lot. The dog sits on their furniture and beds throughout the house. My girlfriend hugs/plays with her everyday. I sleep over at her place Friday and Saturday nights. I hang out at her house 2-3x during the weekdays. I am frustrated that my chest tightness has not gone away. I've had this symptom before, and usually it goes away in 3-4 weeks without taking medication. I just drink lots of hot tea with honey/lemon, rest, and natural home remedies in general. My dad mentioned that the exposure to pet dander at my girlfriend's house is most likely not helping me to make a complete recovery. In the past before meeting my current girlfriend this past May, I would just stay at home and the symptoms would go away within a month's time. Nowadays, my chest tightness has not gone away completely. There are allergy medication (Claritin/Benadryl) that I should be taking when I'm around the dog, but my father highly suggested to either eliminate/minimize contact. I brought this matter up to my girlfriend's attention, and she didn't like to hear such news as an avid dog lover. She got very upset last Friday that I decided not to sleep over for a night after receiving news about my allergy. This particular matter has put a strain in our relationship and my overall physical health. I love her Corgi which is a sweet dog, but I have to look after myself first & foremost. The doctor recently prescribed a Flovent inhaler to use 2x a day in relieving the symptoms. Don't want to use steroids, but I'm getting very angst at this point. Any suggestions or recommendations would be greatly appreciated.
posted by tnar23 to Health & Fitness (10 answers total)
You say there are allergy medications that you should be taking - but you don't say that you actually are? If not, I'd start with those.

Not to be insensitive, but how old is the dog? Unless he's close to the end of his life, I don't really see a future for your relationship. I'm also allergic to pet dander and I can tolerate looking after my mum's dog for a week or so with anti-histamines but eventually it just gets too much.

There are things your girlfriend can do to make things better for you but long-term, its going to be a problem. Before you visit, the dog should be groomed and the whole house hoovered - including sofas and beds. When you get home, put your clothes in the wash straight away and take a hot shower to wash off any residue from your skin and clear out your nose.
posted by missmagenta at 2:29 AM on November 21, 2014

You should try the allergy meds. I very much doubt your girlfriend is going to choose you over her dog, if it comes down to it. And if you try to cut back (but keep) the relationship because of your allergies, your girlfriend isn't going to go for that, either.

I don't know if the dog is really the issue, but it might be, and this anti-medicine stance you're taking seems unlikely to help.
posted by J. Wilson at 3:55 AM on November 21, 2014 [4 favorites]

Also, I'm not a doctor but it sounds like you have always had untreated asthma and have just been ignoring it and now this issue may be aggravating it?
posted by J. Wilson at 3:58 AM on November 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

You say you've had this in the past, before meeting your gf and her dog. Sounds pretty obvious then that the dog isnt causing your symptoms (though I suppose it could be exacerbating them). Wouldn't it help you more to try and identify the root cause of this issue, instead of blaming the dog at the risk of your relationship?

You are welcome to eliminate/mitigate contact with the dog instead of taking an allergy medicine- you just have to decide which is more important to you, your relationship with your gf or your anti-medicine stance.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 4:20 AM on November 21, 2014 [3 favorites]

Unless your father is also a doctor, I don't know why you're taking his medical advice over that of your actual doctor.

Take the damn allergy meds.
posted by Jacqueline at 5:21 AM on November 21, 2014 [6 favorites]

As a fellow allergy sufferer (have you had the prick tests? For all likely environmental allergens?) and moderate asthmatic just... take the meds. If they make you feel better, great. If they don't, reevaluate your exposure to dogs in general, if you're sure you're reacting so strongly to the corgi. Or change meds.
posted by lydhre at 9:15 AM on November 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

And by sure I mean "had the prick test and dog dander gave me hives and I am currently exposed to nothing else that I'm allergic to, like mold or cockroaches or pollen".

I get the chest tightness every fall for weeks and it's the ragweed. It goes away on its own because the ragweed is done for the year.
posted by lydhre at 9:20 AM on November 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Fall/Autumn gives me asthma. I never had asthma until I moved to the US five years ago,. I'd get testing done to be sure it's the dog, if nothing else it will show your girlfriend you are trying. I honestly feel taking the meds is your best bet, if nothing else it is easier to make decisions when you are not also stressed by feeling crappy.
posted by wwax at 9:29 AM on November 21, 2014

If you want to find out specifically, there is a blood test to tell you exactly what you're allergic to. I'm pretty sure you don't have to do the prick test anymore.
posted by radioamy at 11:06 AM on November 21, 2014

Get the test results to find out what you're actually allergic to. If it is the dog, then avoidance and antihistamine meds as needed is a good strategy. But you might also be allergic to something you can't avoid, like dust mites. Then you need to take the meds anyway, because untreated asthma is dangerous. But if you aren't comfortable with steroids at this point, there are a few other options. I've had very good symptom relief (chest tightness and coughing) from daily generic Singulair. It isn't enough on its own for me, I also have to take Allegra and Astepro nasal spray, but I am horribly allergic to dust mites and to my cat.

Maybe it is time to talk to an allergist or asthma specialist. Home remedies aren't very helpful here. I tried a lot of them before I sought professional help. Breathing is awesome. You might at least want to get a rescue inhaler from your primary doc so that you have one in case you do have an attack. Because if you are coughing, it might be just a matter of time before you do have one.
posted by monopas at 11:59 AM on November 21, 2014

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