Although most people with horse allergies will make a trip to the track without any problems, those who get too close to the action can experience symptoms. Common reactions to horses include sneezing, runny nose, itchy/watery eyes and more severe symptoms can include wheezing, chest tightness, hives and swelling.
My name is Derek, and I have horse allergies. I’ve known I was allergic to horses since I was a child, but I never spent much time up close and personal with them. I can recall one symptomatic episode a few years back when, at the end of my residency graduation ceremony at the Red Mile in Lexington, I toured the horse stables. My nose was a sneezy, runny mess within minutes.
There is significantly less known about horse allergies compared to other common pets. Approximately 3% of Americans share my allergy to horses. A study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology in February of 2012 found that 3.2% of children age 4 had detectable horse allergic antibodies and that number rose to 6.7% by age 8. A study in Occupational Medicine in 2009 estimated that 50% of those regularly exposed to horse barns have symptoms! A Swedish study published in 2009 in the International Archives of Allergy and Immunology recommended susceptible people keep at least 500 meters (about 1/3 of a mile) between stables and their homes. They also noted that the level of allergen detection at 45 meters was only 1% of the level detected at a distance of 1 meter.
Allergenic proteins are named after the genus species. For horses or Equus caballus, there are five named proteins, Equ c 1 through Equ c 5. Some horse proteins have similar structures as cat, dog, rabbit and rodent proteins explaining why some sufferers have issues with other animals as well.
Treatment advice if you are a sufferer like me? Avoidance, medications (OTC and/or prescription) and allergy shots. Now off to the races!
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Disclaimer: This blog is not intended to create a doctor-patient relationship with any reader. If you need personalized medical advice, contact your primary care physician or other physician in your community.