What is Dust Mite Allergy: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Prevention
What is Dust Mite Allergy?
Dust Mites are very small bugs which get mixed with house dust and feed on dead skin cells which are shed by people. These bugs tend to adapt to virtually all environments and feed on the dead cells that the people shed everyday. Dust Mites thrive in warm temperatures and hence can be found around the beds or in places where woolen clothes are kept. An individual may not be aware of this but it unknowingly inhales waste products of dust mites.
Dust mites may not affect for some time but with repeated exposure the immune system gets triggered and identifies the inhaled waste products of dust mites as invaders and starts to produce antibodies which release chemical called histamines which trigger symptoms like sneezing, watery and itchy eyes which are classic symptoms of Dust Mite Allergy.
What Causes Dust Mite Allergy?
Dust Mite Allergy is caused by the action of the immune system of the body. When an individual is repeatedly exposed to waste products of dust mites which can be present anywhere in the house, the immune system starts to identify those substances as harmful for the body and starts producing antibodies to fight the substances. This results in releasing of chemical called histamine which in turn produces symptoms of itchy eyes, runny nose, and sneezing which are the classic presenting features of a Dust Mite Allergy.
People may think that they have a clean house but in fact there may be places where some dirt is still there and that is the breeding ground for dust mites. This is especially under the carpeting, bedding, cushions which all hold moisture from the air and allow these bugs to thrive ultimately resulting in Dust Mite Allergy.
What are the Symptoms of Dust Mite Allergy?
The symptoms caused by dust mite allergy may range from mild to severe. some of the symptoms of dust mite allergy are:
- Runny nose
- Postnasal drip
- Itchy skin
- Nasal congestion
- Sinus pressure which at times may cause facial pain
- Water eyes
- Redness in the eyes
- Scratchy throat
- Persistent cough
- Swollen eyes which may have a tinge of bluish discoloration just beneath the eyes
- Trouble with sleeping due to the above symptoms.
In case if an individual has asthma and additionally has dust mite allergy then apart from the above mentioned symptoms he or she may also experience:
- Chest pain or tightness
- Problems with breathing
- Problems with talking
- Severe asthma attack.
How is Dust Mite Allergy Diagnosed?
In order to identify whether an individual has dust mite allergy, he or she needs to consult with an allergist who will perform a series of tests. The best test to identify whether an individual is allergic to dust mites is by performing a skin prick test. In this test, common allergens like products released by dust mites are used and applied to the skin in the arm or the back with tiny punctures made. If an individual has dust mite allergy, he or she will develop hives or a raised bump at the site where the allergen was applied. This will confirm the diagnosis of Dust Mite Allergy.
What is the Treatment for Dust Mite Allergy?
There is no cure for allergies but symptoms can be controlled to a large extent by medications and allergy shots but limiting exposure to dust mites is the best way to avoid dust mite allergy. The medications which can used to treat the symptoms of dust mite allergy are:
- Treating Dust Mite Allergy with Antihistamines: These medications block the production of histamines and hence relieve the dust mite allergy symptoms like nasal congestion, runny nose, and watery eyes. Some of the medications which come under this class are Allegra and Claritin
- Nasal Corticosteroids: These medications are also quite effective in treating the symptoms of Dust Mite Allergy. Some of the medications which come under this class are Flonase and Nasonex
- Decongestants: These medications help in clearing the congestion in the nose and get rid of the symptoms of dust mite allergy. Some of the medications under this class are Sudafed and Afrin.
Some of the other medications that may be used for treatment of symptoms of Dust Mite Allergy are:
- Cromolyn sodium
- Allergy shots.
Nasal lavage is also quite an effective way in opening the nasal passages and help with the symptoms of Dust Mite Allergy. This can be done by rinsing the nasal passage with warm water mixed with salt on a daily basis.
How to Prevent Dust Mite Allergy?
Apart from these treatments there are also certain preventive measures that you can take top prevent Dust Mite Allergy. These methods are:
- Use allergen-proof bed covers on the mattress and pillows.
- Wash all bedding at least once a week. This includes bed sheets, pillow covers, blankets and bed covers. Let them dry in sunlight.
- Use an air conditioner or dehumidifier so as to keep the relative humidity down to about 40%
- Buy only washable stuffed toys and wash them often.
- Dust frequently with a damp towel or mop
- Clean curtains and upholstered furniture regularly
- Avoid use of carpeting and try using wood, tile, or vinyl flooring.