Treating Allergy to Birds

The central component of treatment in allergology is to limit and eliminate the contact of the patient with the source of the allergen. This is achieved by thorough wet cleaning of the premises, cleaning the dwelling from dust containing bird feathers, leather or particles of litter, installing household air filters, airing the house or apartment.

If the pathology is due to intolerance to the parasite antigens of decorative birds (parrots, canaries), you can limit the treatment of the animal at the veterinarian.

These activities should be carried out in combination with drug therapy:

  • ASIT Allergen-specific immunotherapy requires precise determination of the allergen and is prescribed to individuals with relatively low immunological reactivity. Under the supervision of a physician, increasing dosages of the antigen causing the allergy are administered to the patient, achieving a decrease in sensitivity to it. Such treatment in many patients has uncertain prospects.
  • The use of antibodies to IgE. A variety of immunotherapy, which is based on the binding of IgE monoclonal antibodies, which reduces their number in the blood. It is used for severe forms of allergy and bronchial asthma, triggered by bird feathers, down and skin allergens. The drug from this group is omalizumab.
  • Antihistamines.  To reduce the symptoms used drugs that block the H-1 histamine receptors. Use antihistamines in the composition of drops for the nose, eyes and for oral administration in the form of syrups, tablets.

Complete elimination of contact with birds or their feathers, down, droppings is often enough for the symptoms of the disease to spontaneously disappear within 1-2 days without taking medication.

The disease belongs to the group of household allergies, it also includes intolerance to house dust, animal hair and other allergens found in a person’s home. Allergies to birds can occur at any age, but are statistically more common in children. A similar condition develops in people who work in close contact with birds and their products – employees of poultry farms, manufactures for the manufacture of products from down and feathers. In rural areas, the most common cause of the disease is agricultural species of birds, in the city – decorative (parrots, canaries).

Causes of Allergies to Birds

Hypersensitivity develops as a result of sensitization of the organism and the subsequent repeated ingress of a specific antigen to the surface of the skin, conjunctival mucous membranes, or respiratory tract.

The following types of allergens are avian origin:

  • Scales of skin and feathers. The protein components of bird feathers and skin are most often the cause of the disease. They continuously come from the integuments of the animal to the external environment, saturating it with allergens.
  • The components of the litter. The features of bird’s digestion are such that with the droppings a large number of protein compounds (potential antigens) are released, which at the time of defecation easily turn into an aerosol. It promotes their distribution and facilitates penetration into the human body.
  • The waste products of parasites. A number of endo- and exoparasites of birds contain substances that are dangerous in terms of allergy. They can also increase the release of flakes of feathers and skin, spraying droppings, increasing the rate at which irritating substances enter the external environment.

Predisposing factors to the development of allergies to birds are the characteristics of the body’s reactivity, genetic factors, and impaired immunity.

Pathogenesis of Allergy to Birds

In the development of allergies to birds, the first (anaphylactic) type of allergic reaction is involved. At the first contact with an allergen, the body becomes sensitized – an increased sensitivity of the immune system to a specific antigen is formed. This corresponds to the usual immune response.

Subsequent contacts with the antigen distort the immunological reaction – instead of the characteristic immunoglobulins of classes G and M lymphocytes, IgE is released. The latter stimulate receptors on tissue basophils (mast cells), which in the process of degranulation secrete biologically active substances (histamine, serotonin).

Excreted substances cause the expansion of arterioles, increase the permeability of the vascular wall and contribute to the development of tissue edema. With the local nature of the allergic reaction, pronounced manifestations are found in the tissues that were in direct contact with the antigen. In case of allergy to birds, the ingress of foreign proteins occurs through the respiratory tract, and some of the scales suspended in the air can get on the conjunctiva of the eye.

Therefore, rhinitis, nasal congestion, tearing and pain in the eyes develops. Antigens can get on the skin by direct contact with birds, causing urticaria – most often this form of the disease develops in children. In rare cases, allergens from feathers, bird droppings or parasites can cause systemic reactions and damage to the lower respiratory tract (alveolitis).

Symptoms of Allergy to Birds

Manifestations of an allergic reaction are diverse and depend on the reactivity of the organism, the routes of allergen penetration into the body, the age of the patient. Depending on the sensitization of the organism, from the moment of contact with birds or their metabolic products (down, droppings) to the development of the clinical picture of pathology can take from several minutes to 2-4 days.

Common symptoms of the disease are nasal congestion, sneezing, rhinorrhea – manifestations of allergic rhinitis. There is an allergic conjunctivitis, characterized by redness, tearing, itching of the eyelids.

When protein antigens penetrate into the nasopharynx, its swelling and inflammation occur – this is manifested by a tickling sensation in the throat, dry cough, and complaints of pain when swallowing. In children and persons with high reactivity of the body, the immunological state is accompanied by a lesion of the lower respiratory tract – allergic bronchitis or alveolitis occurs. Their symptoms are debilitating dry cough with a viscous thick sputum, wheezing in the lungs, difficulty breathing. Skin manifestations of the disease occur according to the type of urticaria with the development of redness and itching at the site of contact with the allergen, the appearance of blisters.

Allergies to birds can occur acutely, characterized by a violent reaction of the body to contact with the antigen. Within a few minutes or hours, severe allergic rhinitis, conjunctivitis develops, and over time there is a lesion in the lower respiratory tract. There is an increase in body temperature, muscle pain, general malaise.

With a subacute or chronic course, the symptoms of the disease are erased – patients complain of transient nasal congestion, frequent exacerbations of conjunctivitis, unexplained cough, or recurrent attacks of the urticaria. With continued contact with the allergen, the pathology can last for months with a slow increase in the severity of symptoms.

Complications of bird allergies

Severe reactivity and severe intolerance to avian antigens can cause the development of angioedema, which creates a threat to the life of the patient. With a less acute reaction in the case of prolonged contact with the source of the allergen, the appearance of pronounced immunological disorders – bronchial asthma, weakening of the immune system, the occurrence of cross-allergy may occur.

There is a high probability of complications in the presence of pathologies in children whose immune system is in the process of formation. Allergic inflammation of the mucous membranes (rhinitis, conjunctivitis) may be complicated by secondary bacterial infection.

Diagnosis of Allergy to Birds

The purpose of diagnosis is to confirm the presence of immunological disorders, the definition of the group and type of allergen, differentiation with other pathologies.

Identification of allergies to birds is based on the results of a number of studies:

  1. Consultation specialists.  An allergist examines a patient, preliminarily establishes the allergic nature of skin lesions, mucous membranes and respiratory organs, collects a history of the patient’s life, draws up a list of antigens based on the data, the possible causes of pathology. If necessary, the patient is sent for additional consultations with a dermatologist, otolaryngologist, and an ophthalmologist.
  2. Allergy tests  (scarification and application tests, prik-test, allergometric titration) With the help of skin allergies during one procedure, the patient’s sensitivity to a number of antigens is checked. The technique is highly specific and allows you to almost accurately determine the cause of the disease.
  3. Determining the level of IgE to individual allergens. During the study, the number of serum specific immunoglobulins of class E specific to this allergen is determined. It is even more highly sensitive method for diagnosing allergies than skin allergy tests, and often complements them. With the help of skin testing, a group of antigens causing intolerance is found out, and a colorimetric analysis of the IgE level reveals a specific allergen from this group.

Ancillary examinations are also used to diagnose pathology – a complete blood count, microscopic examination of sputum (with a productive cough). The blood picture is characterized by elevated levels of eosinophils. In the sputum, Kurshman spirals and Charcot-Leiden crystals can be detected.

Differential diagnostics is performed with ornithosis and other types of household allergies (for wool, dust, mold fungi). Ornithosis is not characterized by damage to the upper respiratory tract (rhinitis, pharyngitis), but there is an increase in the liver and spleen, and PCR is used to confirm the diagnosis. Other types of allergies are easily eliminated by skin allergy tests.

Forecast and prevention of bird allergies

The disease is characterized by a relatively favorable prognosis for a person’s life, but the duration of the symptoms depends on how accurately the prohibition of contact with the source of the allergy is fulfilled. In children with long-term pathology, breathing problems can occur – prolonged nasal congestion leads to the development of the so-called “adenoid” face. There is also the risk of breathing problems due to chronic bronchitis, alveolitis or bronchial asthma.

For the prevention of bird allergies should before contacting an animal several times to contact him at the pet store or with friends. The absence of negative reactions (nasal congestion, conjunctivitis, cough) indicates the normal sensitivity of the body. When keeping birds, it is necessary to regularly ventilate the room, clean the cages, timely treat their parasitic diseases.

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