Did you know that over 7.7% of adults suffer from asthma?
That means approximately 1 in 13 people have asthma – and it is a leading cause of chronic disease in children.
As we all know, there are many different things that can trigger asthma attacks.
Allergens, pollens, bad weather, chemicals, physical exercise, and even certain foods can trigger vicious asthma attacks requiring assistance from a puffer.
Many animals can also trigger asthma attacks.
All types of animals from dogs, to cats, to hamsters and horses can trigger an attack for someone who has asthma.
But what about parrots?
Are parrots bad for asthma?
Unfortunately, the answer to this question is often yes. People that are prone to asthma attacks can be affected by parrots. When a person with severe asthma is in the presence of a parrot, they may suffer from symptoms of wheezing or difficulty breathing. In such a case, the only solution is to remove the bird or the person from the same room. With that being said, people who have less severe conditions of asthma may not be as affected by parrots if they are in their cage. Still, even those with mild cases of asthma can be affected if a parrot is flying around the room.
Today we’ll talk more about why parrots can trigger asthma, and answer other questions like:
How do I know if my parrot is triggering my asthma?
Do I have to get rid of my parrot?
Are there some types of parrots that will affect me more than others?
And do parrots suffer from asthma?
Why does my parrot trigger my asthma?
When it comes to asthma, a lot of people think that it is triggered by animal hair.
In such a case, animals that don’t have hair and that have feathers instead, shouldn’t trigger asthma attacks.
But this simply isn’t the case.
Why? Because it’s not really hair at all that triggers asthma.
Rather, it’s the proteins that are found on pet dander (flakes of skin).
This protein can also be found in your pet’s saliva and urine.
And because parrots have skin, saliva, and urine, they too can trigger asthma attacks.
When it comes to parrots, a bird’s feathers can also contain this protein or other particles referred to as feather dust.
Any time you touch or inhale these proteins or particles, your immune system reacts to them and enhances the symptoms of your asthma.
The more dander, proteins, or particles that you breathe in, the worst your asthma attack will be.
How do I know if my Parrot is Triggering my Asthma?
There are a lot of things that can trigger asthma, so it’s important that you don’t jump to the conclusion that your parrot is the cause right away.
With that being said, it’s also important that you do find out if they are a trigger for the benefit of your health.
If your parrot is triggering your asthma, there’s a good chance that you will react immediately upon entering the same room as them.
With that being said, there are some people who may not notice symptoms right away and which may not present themselves for several hours.
Itchy, watery eyes, and itchy, watery nose, sneezing, and coughing in the presence of your parrot can all be a sign that they are triggering your allergies or asthma.
In severe cases, your parrot may also trigger more severe reactions like difficulty breathing, quick heart rate, and even collapse.
If your symptoms improve immediately after leaving the same room as your parrot, there’s a good chance that they are the cause of your reaction.
Keep in mind, however, that even if they are the cause of your reactions, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your symptoms will vanish as soon as the parrot is no longer in your presence.
Dander can travel from room to room and can be present on your carpet, furniture, and other surfaces.
When this is the case, your reactions can still occur.
If you think your parrot may be triggering your asthma reactions, you should speak to your doctor to learn more.
Do I have to get rid of my parrot?
The answer to this question will vary from person to person, and depends on the severity of your reaction.
With that being said, there are some things that you can do to reduce the likelihood of an asthma attack in the presence of your parrot.
Taking any medications that are prescribed to you as a preventative.
Reviewing your asthma treatment plan with your general practitioner.
Keeping your parrot limited to one room, or outside as much as possible.
Limiting the amount of access that your parrot spends in rooms with carpeting, and keeping your parrot out of your bedroom.
Bathing your parrot regularly.
Cleaning your parrot cage, toys, and furnishings regularly.
Asking someone else in the household to clean your parrots urine or feces.
Adding an air purifier to your home, especially to the room where your parrot resides.
Using air conditioners within your home.
If you try all of these things and still find yourself having allergic reactions to your parrot, you may need to consider re-homing them.
Yes, this isn’t the ideal option, but your health is vital and not worth the risk.
Are there some types of parrots that may affect me more than others?
Yes. If dust tends to set off your asthma symptoms, you should stray away from African Greys, Cockatoos, and Cockatiels.
These three types of birds are often referred to as “ powder down species”.
This means that they produce a large amount of white, sticky, oily powder.
During preening and feather ruffling, this powder can become airborne which then triggers an allergic reaction or asthma.
To make things worse, this powder can get sucked into your air filters and ductwork and distribute itself throughout your home.
This means that it isn’t limited to the room that your parrot is in.
This is why, even though all birds have feathers and dander, African Greys, Cockatoos, and Cockatiels are the most common triggers of asthma.
There are, however, some birds that are hypoallergenic.
This means that they do not cause allergic reactions.
Included within the list of hypoallergenic parrots are Parakeets (budgies), Eclectus parrots, and Pionus parrots.
What if I have to get rid of my parrot?
Making the choice to get rid of your parrot can be a difficult one.
After all, parrots tend to bond very closely with their owners, and owners tend to bond very closely with them.
It’s normal to feel sad or even angry about having to make this decision.
With that being said, your health should be your main priority.
If you choose to get rid of your parrot, do your research and search for someone who has the time and finances to put towards giving your parrot a good home.
Knowing that the owner who is taking your parrot will provide them with a good home can help to reduce your feeling of loss.
To prevent this from happening, you should always check with your doctor before getting a parrot if you suffer from asthma.
It’s better to avoid getting a parrot in the first place, then having to get rid of one later down the road.
Can Parrots suffer from Asthma?
If you own a parrot, there’s a good chance that you have heard of a condition referred to as Macaw asthma.
Also referred to as Macaw respiratory hypersensitivity, McCaw asthma is a lung condition that leads to allergic reactions.
Contrary to what the name may suggest, this condition is not only present in macaws, but can affect a wide range of parrots and other birds.
When this condition is present, parrots experience inflamed air passages within their airways, which prohibit oxygen from entering into the lungs as it usually does.
When affected by McCaw asthma, damage is incurred to the lungs in the form of tissue scarring.
When this happens, side effects can start to present themselves.
Most commonly, these symptoms present as difficulty breathing especially after physical activity.
Other symptoms can include use wheezing, lethargy, coughing, stuffy nose, and nasal discharge.
In conclusion, parrots can definitely trigger asthma attacks.
With that being said, there are some people who will be more affected than others, and some parrots that will affect you more than others.
If you have asthma, always be sure to talk to your general practitioner before getting a parrot.
As we mentioned many times in previous articles, parrots tend to bond very closely with their owners and may have a difficult time if you have to get rid of them later down the road.