*****FROM ABC NEWS MEDICAL UNIT*****
Hi wheat777 and thank you for your question. We apologize for the delay. Here is an answer from Mike Rosenthal, M.D., Professor of Family Medicine, Department of Family and Community Medicine, Thomas Jefferson University:
This excellent question raises important points regarding allergies and asthma. Many people with allergic rhinitis (nasal allergies) also have asthma (which affects the lungs) and may not realize it. In fact, it is likely that you also carry a diagnosis of asthma due to her occasional difficulty breathing and need for an inhaler.
Therefore, keeping away from or removing "triggers" (in this case cats or cat hair) is the best approach, whenever possible. If there will be exposure to the trigger, medications which help nasal allergies may be of some help, but with enough exposure, they cannot do the job of controlling symptoms and/or treating the underlying asthma.
If someone has nasal allergies and has associated difficulty breathing or wheezing, he or she should be sure to be evaluated for asthma and be treated for that if it is identified. For certain people, desensitization shots can be helpful, but removal of triggers and a more comprehensive medication approach should be considered first.