Millions of people around the globe suffer from some form of allergy, from food allergies to medication allergies to household elements that can cause a flare-up. An allergy is considered the introduction of a foreign agent to the bloodstream that causes a negative reaction because the immune system recognizes it as a threat. One of the most common allergies that exist is the one to dust mites and can affect humans that range in age from toddler elderly. The exact cause of the allergic reaction isn’t the dust mite itself but actually the waste omitted from the creatures and the carcasses left behind once the dust mite has died.
Is there a cure?
Once a person has been diagnosed with an allergy, through a test administered by a medical professional; there isn’t any cure but instead the awareness of potential triggers, learning to treat allergic reactions and the management of said allergy.
Dust mites are microscopic creatures that are not visible to the naked eye and can live in a home for up to a year if the atmosphere is right. If a home is humid with warm temperatures and damp areas; then there is a good chance it is infested with dust mites. A home can look sparkling clean on the surface and there are still dust mites within in, as they feed on the dead skin cells of both animals and humans. The average adult sheds upwards of millions of skin cells in the run of a day so there is no shortage of a food source for these creatures.
Dust mites can be found in the following places within a home:
- Carpets and/or rugs
- Bedding – mattresses and pillows, thick comforters
- Air filters – central air system, furnace
- Damp areas of the home – basements, bathrooms
Not only can the presence of dust in the home cause an allergic reaction, there are other factors that can not only cause a reaction but increase the length and severity of it. Potential triggers for a dust mite allergy include but are not limited to:
- Pollen from outdoor sources
- Pet hair and dander that is shed on a daily basis
- Insects – termites, cockroaches
- Smoke from various sources – wood smoke, cigarette smoke, cooking fumes (grilling)
- Dust from household renovations – drywall dust, sawdust, plaster dust, paint dust
It is impossible to avoid all potential triggers for a dust mite allergy, not only in the personal residence but in the residences of peers, workplaces, and shopping centers.
Symptoms of a dust mite allergy
The following are common symptoms that those who live with a dust mite allergy experience in the case of a flare-up but not all people have the same symptoms.
- Frequent sneezing
- Itchy eyes
- Dry, flaky skin
- Watery eyes
- Dry or sore throat
- Shortness of breath
- Stuffy or runny nose
- Existing respiratory issues intensifying
- Sinus pressure
- Longer recovery periods for common viruses
Treatment for dust mite allergies
Treatment for dust mite allergies can be medicinal or natural and is entirely up to the discretion of the person. If natural treatments are not working, however, it is definitely recommended they visit either their family doctor or pharmacist to purchase medication to relive the symptoms.
- Over-the-counter antihistamine medication: Benadryl or a generic oral tablet that relives the symptoms of the reaction by reducing the level of histamines in the bloodstream.
- Some versions can cause drowsiness if operating a vehicle or work is on the agenda.
- Hydrocortisone creams: will relieve the symptoms of redness, rashes, hives or itchy skin without reducing the moisture. Can be purchased over-the-counter at a pharmacy or drug store along with prescription strength versions received from a licensed medical professional.
- Decongestant tablets: these tablets, available both over-the-counter and through a doctor, will relieve runny and stuffy noses while preventing sore throats that are caused by constant sniffling.
- Oatmeal baths: these will soothe the skin that is dry and itchy. Can be made by mixing powdered oatmeal into small amounts of water to form a mixture that is added to a lukewarm bath.
- Nasal pots: the warm steam that comes from a nasal pot will open airways and provide relief against stuffy noses. The steam will loosen congestion and allow for mucus to be cleared from the sinuses.
Management of dust mite allergies
The management of dust mite allergies isn’t the same as the treatment because one is for alleviating the symptoms of an allergy attack while the other is primarily for preventing additional attacks.
To manage a dust mite allergy, consider implementing the following or select guidelines into a routine:
- Invest in a central air dehumidifier or air purifier to reduce the number of dust mites found in each room of the home.
- Remove carpet where possible or invest in a carpet steamer to destroy potential dust mite nests.
- Use anti-mite dust covers on major furnishings that feature mesh grids so tightly wound that a mite can’t even fit through it.
- Wash bedding in hot water once a week kill existing dust mites.
- Use protective equipment during cleaning, such as a breathing mask and rubber gloves to lessen the contact
A dust mite allergy is not contagious by any means and living with doesn’t have to hamper a person’s existing lifestyle. While primarily irritating and frustrating to contend with, it can be controlled. Practice self-awareness when entering new atmospheres and take preventive measures whenever possible. If there are home renovations coming up, invest in painter masks to avoid breathing in the dust. If visiting a family member or friend with pet(s) that are in the home, take an over-the-counter medication to reduce the chances of an allergy attack while socializing.
Schedule maintenance and cleaning of household appliances from changing the filters on the central air system and the furnace to arranging for a technician to come to clean out the ductwork of the home.
It is impossible to fully remove dust mites from the home and it is pointless to even try as they can survive for a full year in optimal conditions, leaving behind waste and shedding. Instead of trying to beat dust mites, focus on living with a dust mite allergy and learning what works to prevent, treat, and manage the symptoms.