House Dust Mite Allergy
Allergic to dust? You probably have a house dust mite allergy!
When an individual is said to be allergic to dust, in fact, it is faeces of house dust mite which triggers a reaction. House dust mites feed on our dead skin cells. They are present in large quantities in our soft furnishings and love our pillows and teddies! The faeces they produce triggers an allergic reaction for some people.
House dust mite allergies can start early in life and individuals affected have common symptoms of sneezing (particularly in the morning), nasal congestion, a chronic cough, itchy watery eyes, and some eye swelling.
Children with house dust mite allergy have an increased risk of developing asthma in later life
It can also be associated with an increase in upper respiratory tract infections (coughs and colds) and ear nfections. Patients affected may have poor quality sleep and struggle with fatigue and poor concentration.
House dust mite allergy can be confirmed on a skin prick test or Specific IgE blood test.
If you think you might have a house dust mite allergy, book an appointment with to Dr Helen Allergy today.
What is House Dust Mite Allergy?
Dust mites are microscopic creatures that thrive in warm, humid environments. They primarily feed on dead human skin flakes, which are abundant in our homes, especially in our beds, carpets, and upholstered furniture. For many in the UK and worldwide, exposure to dust mites can lead to allergies.
Dust Mite Allergy Symptoms
1. Respiratory symptoms:
- Sneezing: Repeated sneezing, especially upon waking.
- Runny or stuffy nose: A persistently blocked or runny nose without any clear cause.
- Coughing: Often dry and caused by irritation in the throat.
- Wheezing and breathlessness: Some individuals may experience difficulty in breathing, often associated with asthma.
3. Eye symptoms:
- Itchy eyes: A sensation that can’t be soothed easily.
- Red or watery eyes: Eyes may become swollen or appear bloodshot.
- Swollen eyelids: The skin around the eyes may puff up due to irritation
4. Sleep disturbances:
- Due to the discomfort and respiratory symptoms, many individuals with a dust mite allergy find it difficult to get a good night’s sleep.
5. Facial pain:
- Some people may experience pressure or pain in the facial region, especially around the sinuses.
6. Postnasal drip:
- Mucus may drip down the back of the throat, leading to a sore or itchy throat.
- For those with asthma, exposure to dust mites can exacerbate symptoms and potentially lead to asthma attacks.
Managing Dust Mite Allergies
Moreover, reducing the number of dust mites in your home by regular cleaning, using allergen-proof bed covers, and maintaining a dry environment can be beneficial.
Remember, each individual’s response to allergens can differ. If you suspect you have an allergy, it’s crucial to seek medical advice and not rely solely on self-diagnosis.
One of the most important ways of managing house dust mite allergy is to minimise exposure to the allergen (house dust mite).
Many patients with this allergy notice a great improvement in their symptoms when they travel abroad to hot countries and this is due to the fact that house dust mite do not survive well in hot (or very cold) temperatures.
There are many measures which can be taken at home. Anti-allergy bedding and mattress covers can be helpful, as can hoovering mattresses and dusting with a damp cloth.
If a child has millions of teddies in their room, it is sensible to remove these and just choose a favourite.
Bedding should be washed at 60-degree temperatures to kill the house dust mite and some individuals choose to invest in wood or laminate flooring, rather than carpets.
If avoidance measures alone are insufficient to manage someone’s symptoms, there are several medications which may be used such as;
- Saline nasal rinses
- Antihistamine medications
- Nasal steroid sprays
- Eye drops
Sadly, for most individuals with a house dust mite allergy, their allergy is likely to persist through adulthood.
For those with severe symptoms or those hoping to change the course of their allergy, immunotherapy may be an option. There is also evidence that house dust mite immunotherapy given to children can prevent them from developing asthma in later life.
Immunotherapy is a process through which the body is exposed to a small amount of house dust mite to ‘desensitise’ an individual with this allergy.
Immunotherapy has the potential to reduce or stop the immune system’s response to house dust mite. It is also available for pollens, cat, dog and horse.