Managing asthma with a Grey in the family

Sheeji

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Feb 18, 2015
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16 month old Congo African grey called Leo
When my daughter was 9 she had allergies that doctors thought might be asthma for two years her symptoms continued but she never had an asthma attack.
Then for the next few years she was fine and we never thought about it. Last year she had her first attack and this year it has got really really bad.
Her doctor suggested we should get 'rid' of our bird just in case. Now she hasn't been tested yet. She has to be completely symptom free to have a conclusive test.
She usually has her asthma attacks in school when she is not around our Grey. It doesn't seem that it gets worse when she plays with him. He does sleep in her room and is supposed to be her bird. Although he's bonded with us all.
Now here are my question:
If it turns out that she is not allergic to dander the doctor might still insist we get rid of Leo as it might make her symptoms worse. Is there anyway to manage asthma while living with a grey?
If we were to find another home for Leo, it would break my daughter's heart. He brings her so much joy. She gets bullied in school and doesn't have many friends. Stress wouldn't be good for her either.
The other thing is I don't think we can find a family for Leo who can love him like we do. He has his own issues with plucking and we don't want to stress him either.
Please help!!
 

JerseyWendy

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Jul 20, 2012
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First thing's first: Don't let Leo sleep in the same room as your daughter, JUST in case he's 'part' of the cause.

Then I'd invest in a good quality air filter/air purifier.

Lastly, giving Leo frequent baths will keep the dander and dust to a minimum.
 

SailBoat

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Jul 10, 2015
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Please start with JerseyWendy's excellent recommendations!

My family has a serious history with Asthma with both of my brothers and my mother suffer its affects.

- Please double check (monitor with detail, written if possible) your daughters use of her medications and that she is using them and the inhailor(s) correctly.

- Work with the School and Teacher(s) to monitor when she has an attack(s) and look for links. Also look for (monitor) stress based events that could or are trigger an attack. I am assuming that the School has her medication(s) onsite, if not, assure that they do and understand how to use them.

- If your home has a 'forced air system' get the duck and vents system cleaned and repeat every two/three year. Also, upgrade that system's air filter(s) with the 3" thick filter chamber. Speak with your Heating / Cooling specialists regarding their 3" medical series filter inserts. Contract with your Heating / Cooling Specialist to clean and tune your forced air furnace and A/C unit in both the Spring and Fall. Look at adding a full home air exchange system to your heating/cooling system (unit should have its own filter). NOTE: All filters need to be changed at the very least twice a year, move often if you live in a dryer climate or there is a higher than normal buildup on the filters.

- Humidifier, check the humidity levels in your home, especially those areas that your daughter is commonly. If low, and you have a fully home system added to your heating / cooling system. Also, check in the summer for high humidity levels, dehumidify if needed.

- Unless your daughter has COPD or is 'seriously' affected by a proven link to her Asthma, resist rehoming your Grey. As you likely know, the Emotional Stress of the loss of her Grey friend will induce an Asthma attack in and of itself. Do not even bring-up the that topic with or around your daughter.

- If your Doctor, prior to completing tests, continues to push for rehoming your Grey. Take a Strong Stance that the parrot reduces your daughter's Stress Levels and therefor is her 'Service Pet'. Understand, that most Doctors will push hard to remove any 'likely' source. My mother's cat is one of her linked sources to her Asthma. At 85, that cat is her daily reason for living and my mother would not think of giving-up her cat.

Your daughter is very lucky to have a great family that includes a wonderful Grey.
 

OOwl

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I don't have asthma but I do have an elderly family member living with us with COPD. Doctors also recommended we remove the birds from his environment. Uh, no, that would mean him not living at home and that would be cruel. Thus, we manage it with all the excellent suggestions as outlined above. A good air purifier is paramount, and it's not the model sold at Walmart, unfortunately. A good one is as expensive as any other major household appliance. We have one and we maintain it properly on a rigid cleaning schedule. I keep cages and floors meticulously clean (that is one of the reasons I'm such a neat-freak). We have been maintaining a home with parrots and his disease for over 10 years with zero problems caused by parrot dander. His disease is well managed and having the birds enhances his life in more ways than any benefit from "removing them from his environment" ever could. Sometimes modern medicine needs to take the entire picture in consideration rather than just what is written in medical books. People in sterile rooms aren't healthier than those part of a real family that includes pets.
 
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Sheeji

Sheeji

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I can't put into words how much I appreciate your comments they felt like a warm hug!! I needed more than "aww honey..."

Don't let Leo sleep in the same room as your daughter, JUST in case he's 'part' of the cause. This is happening tonight. My daughters will start sleeping in the same room and Leo will be sleeping in my younger ones room. Its better for him too so he's not disturbed in case of any movements during the night and I will feel better that my daughter is not alone at night in case...

Then I'd invest in a good quality air filter/air purifier. Already done.

Lastly, giving Leo frequent baths will keep the dander and dust to a minimum. Yes everyday whether he likes it or not! Works for the plucking problems too.

Will start working on the rest of the suggestions with my family. You guys actually understand ALL of it.
So far she has had only one attack at home (under a stressful situation) one at a friends' and all the rest in school.
 

Aquila

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This might be anecdotal, but I grew up with severe asthma, we were advised to get rid of our cat (which my parents did) but it didn't help. I ended up with infrequent exposure to various animals over the years and I have almost no problems now.

Occasionally I have issues with some cats, and dog saliva, but no asthma attacks, and zero issues with birds, so it's possible they might grow out of it!
 
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Sheeji

Sheeji

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I really wish my daughter would outgrow it. It's really painful to watch your child not being able to breathe.
The doctor says that studies show that boys are more likely to grow out of it and with girls asthma usually gets worse as they get older. She turns 15 in a week so she's not really a child. Sometimes I even wonder if these are panic attacks combined with asthma or being mistaken for asthma. We really need to get to the bottom of it.
She wants to work with animals when she is older and I wouldn't want to stop her from that unless there is a strong reason.

Wish you the best of health Aquila!
 

Aquila

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Sydney - Blue Front Amazon
Gonzo - Congo African Grey
Willow - Cockatiel
RIP:
Snowy, Ivy, Kiwi, Ghost - Parakeets
Berry - Cinnamon GCC
I really wish my daughter would outgrow it. It's really painful to watch your child not being able to breathe.
The doctor says that studies show that boys are more likely to grow out of it and with girls asthma usually gets worse as they get older. She turns 15 in a week so she's not really a child. Sometimes I even wonder if these are panic attacks combined with asthma or being mistaken for asthma. We really need to get to the bottom of it.
She wants to work with animals when she is older and I wouldn't want to stop her from that unless there is a strong reason.

Wish you the best of health Aquila!
It's very possible! I had them often around that age, I'm 26 now and still do.

I don't know what medications are available to you but there are quite a few different ones for asthma, some might work better than others for her. It's also possible seasonal allergies make her asthma worse. It might help to see a specialist instead of just a family doctor.

If you have a central air unit for heating and cooling, look into special filters as well, they have UV filters that help remove particles in the air that would be good for your family and your bird. Also try to keep a journal for her asthma attacks and other symptoms. Being involved in sports like running or swimming can also improve her lung function and help prevent future attacks. I'm sure she'll be just fine!
 

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