Is rodeo spurring on your allergies?
Planning to hit the petting zoo this rodeo season? Before spending time at the livestock show and rodeo grounds, you might want to take some preventative steps when it comes to allergies. Dr. Carla Davis, an allergy expert with Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital, says you are more likely to have an allergic reaction if you already have seasonal allergies.
“Being exposed to animals or just spending time outdoors on the fairgrounds could trigger a minor reaction,” said Davis, who is professor of pediatrics – allergy and immunology at Baylor and director of Texas Children’s food allergy program. “Having an allergy to cats or dogs doesn’t mean you will be allergic to the typical petting zoo animals, like llamas or goats, but when you already have allergies, you are more likely to be allergic to other allergens.”
Reactions aren’t always severe – some symptoms that could make for an unpleasant outing include sneezing, nasal congestion, watery, itchy nose and itchy eyes. A person might develop hives as well, which could happen when an allergic person is in contact with animals. If someone has asthma, coughing and wheezing could occur.
“For some, symptoms might appear immediately but for others who have minor allergies, it might take a few minutes for a reaction to occur. Some people might leave the area that affected them and then feel the results later,” Davis said. “The length of symptoms depends on the person – some people might have symptoms for a few hours or even the rest of the day.”
Animals aren’t the only allergen to keep in mind. If you are outdoors, there are the usual seasonal allergies like tree and grass pollen that can affect you day-to-day. However, at a rodeo there is usually more hay laying around, and that can create a problem as well.
“With dry hay or even grass, mold spores can grow if the weather or the area is humid,” she said. “So, if a person is allergic to mold, the hay exposure may trigger symptoms.”
Something else your nose might notice at the rodeo is the strong scent of manure.
“There are nerves in our nose that can dictate whether we have nasal congestion. Sometimes the nervous system can respond to smells by opening up the nose so you might feel a sinus reaction to the strong scent, but there is no evidence that manure specifically can trigger any certain neurologic response.”
Prevention is key to making sure your rodeo experience is allergy free. Davis says most over-the-counter antihistamines, decongestants or nasal sprays can treat the symptoms. If you know you will have a reaction or have allergies, taking one of the products before attending the rodeo might just stop the problem before it happens.
And don’t forget about the food allergies.
“If you have any type of food allergy, make sure to ask the food vendor for ingredients to double check what is contained in your rodeo treat,” Davis said. “However, if they don’t know the ingredients or if there is any doubt, do not eat the food!”
For severe reactions to any type of allergen while at the rodeo, such as difficulty breathing, vomiting or fainting, Davis said find the medic tent immediately or call for emergency help. Most large-scale events will have a medical tent available for visitors.
By Gracie Gutierrez