Dust Mite Allergy — Symptoms, Preventing, Treatment, Causes

Dust Mite Allergy

No matter how hard you work to clean your house using even the most expensive cleaners and cleaning equipment, you are still exposed to allergens. According to the World Health Organization, dust mite allergy is one of the most common forms of allergies that people experience. Though most people dismiss this condition as an everyday health dilemma, it is important to ensure that you and your family are protected from dust mite allergy.

Dust Mite Allergy Information

Dust mite allergy is a health problem that continues to plague a lot of households. Though there are many people who overlook this condition as a normal health dilemma such as common colds and coughs, dust mite allergy can lead to serious complications. Those who are overly exposed to allergens produced by the dust mites can develop asthma and other respiratory-related ailments.

You may not know it, but there can be millions of dust mites residing in your home. These eight legged fiends may be invisible to the eye, but the inconvenience that they can cause to you and your family can be massive. To make your house a dust mite free place, read on and learn the ways on how you can do so.

Dust Mite Allergy Causes

In explaining the cause of this health problem, it will be clearer to introduce you to the organisms that are indirectly responsible for the allergy. Dust mites are organisms that feed on human skin. These eight legged member of the arachnid family dwell on your bed, couch, carpet, and sheets for these are the areas which supplies them with their food. The highest concentration of dust mite is found on the bed as this is where we spend almost one third of our day.

The dead skin cells that are accumulated in the various spots of our house help the dust mites in prolonging their existence. These dead skin cells, also called dander, can come from human and animal sources. Humans shed an average of 10 grams of skin per week while household pets can shed more.

Due to the plentiful supply of food, the population of dust mites in a household can reach to millions. The droppings of these dust mites are present everywhere in our house including the nooks and crannies. These are also found even in the air that we breathe.

A dust mite allergy is caused by the protein is released along with these droppings. Allergic reactions are triggered once the body inhales these protein substances. When the body detects the presence of these protein materials, the antibodies will release histamine. This chemical is responsible for the irritation of the respiratory pathways that ultimately leads to swelling, irritation, and asthma attacks.

Dust mite allergy can affect the person regardless of the season of the year or time of the day. Since the allergens are perpetually present in your household items, simple acts such as sitting on a chair or sweeping your floor can cause a dust mite allergy to someone.

Dust Mite Allergy Symptoms and Signs

The most common symptoms of dust mite allergy are similar to the symptoms brought about by different allergens. Once a person’s body reacts to the allergens inside his body, he may develop hay fever. Hay fever is often accompanied by excessive sneezing, congested or runny nose and colds. He is also likely to suffer from eczema. Eczema is a type of skin disease characterized by redness and crusting of the affected spot. Itching and irritation is also likely to occur.

Another common symptom of dust mite allergy is the conjunctivitis. This symptom is manifested as redness and burning of the eyes. Itching and watering is also a common occurrence. Though this symptom can be alleviated by the use of eye drops, the eyes’ natural reaction to allergens, which is producing tears, can further enforce the effect of histamine.

Problems with breathing can also affect the person with allergy. Allergic asthma is caused by the congestion of the respiratory tract as the body’s reaction to the allergens. The person may be afflicted with wheezing, coughing and a sense of tightness within the chest area. A person who is allergic to dust mite must find a way to decrease his exposure to the allergens for it will make his asthma worse.

The symptoms of dust mite allergy may also vary from a person to another. Some may not experience asthma while some did not suffer from hay fever. Regardless of the variation of the symptoms, it is worth noting that exposure to air pollutants and car fumes can make the symptoms worse.

To confirm if you are allergic to dust mites, you should see a doctor once you feel these symptoms. The doctor will then perform a blood and skin test to see if you are indeed allergic to dust mites.

Preventing Dust Mite Allergy

There are many ways that you can employ to reduce your exposure to the dust mites. Regular cleaning of your home will surely help as long as you are guided with the proper ways on how to clean it. Here are some useful tips that you can try:

    If possible, ditch your carpet and opt for linoleum or wooden floors. Dust mites accumulate in carpeted areas. If you want to reduce their population in your house, you should remove all the carpets that you have and switch to linoleum covers. If you have the budget, you can also choose to have a wooden floor.

However, if you cannot afford to lose your carpets, then make sure that they are cleaned properly. One of the most effective tips is to have them cleaned by the professionals at least twice a month. Every week, you should wash your carpets with hot water.

You can also opt to use a vacuum that is equipped with a HEPA filter bag. The HEPA bag is effective in accumulating all the dust while you clean your home.

Reduce the humidity of your home. Dust mites thrive in places where the temperature is warm. Reducing the humidity inside your home can be a good way of perishing their existence in your home. You can do so by installing home dehumidifiers as well as air conditioning units. Just make sure that you clean these devices regularly.

Protect and clean your linens regularly. Your bed, pillows, blankets and duvets are ideal breeding places for dust mites. Protect them by using covers that are made from dust proof materials. Make it a point to wash your linens especially the ones you use at your bedroom at least twice a week using hot water.

  • Remove other things that can cause dust mite accumulation such as stuffed toys and throw pillows. Most of these materials are not cleaned regularly which makes them a good habitat for the dust mites.
  • How To Kill Dust Mites

    Killing the dust mites that resides in your house is a concrete way of preventing dust mite allergy. When there are no dust mites to release allergens in your home, your body will not have to react to these allergens. Luckily, the techniques that you can employ to eradicate the dust mites are simple and affordable. You do not have to invest in expensive cleaning equipment to make your home dust mite free. Along with these techniques, you can mix a little perseverance and hard work to make sure that you endeavor will be a success.

      Wash all your linens and sheets with hot water. Dust mites cannot survive in a heated environment. Make it a point that you wash all the sheets in your household especially those that are used in the bedrooms. It is better to use a clothesline in drying your sheets but if this is not possible, you can use the hottest drying settings of your home dryer.

    Another method that you can use while washing your sheets involves freezing the fabric. You can fold your sheets into neat stacks and put them in your freezer for a while. The extreme cold can kill the dust mites. Afterwards, you can proceed with washing them using room temperature water.

    Decrease the humidity in your house. Dust mites thrives in areas where the humidity is high. Regulate the humidity in your home by using dehumidifiers. These devices should also be regularly cleaned to ensure their efficient functionality. If you have a space where you can air out your sheets and stuffed toys, you can place them under direct sunlight to kill the dust mites that are residing in them.

    Clean the children’s stuffed toys regularly. Teddy bears, stuffed animals, dolls etc. They make look adorable but these items serve as ideal breeding grounds for dust mites. Besides them using direct sunlight, you can place these toys in airtight bags and leave them for at least 45 hours. This will kill the dust mite for their air supply will be cut out. After taking them out from the bags, beat the toys to make sure that there are no residues that can still cause allergies.

  • Use specially made chemical sprays. Chemical sprays are also effective in killing dust mites. The safest spray to use is those that are made using benzyl benozoate. Studies have shown that this chemical poses no side effects and is one hundred percent efficient in killing the dust mites. In using a chemical spray of your choice, make sure that you follow the instructions strictly.
  • Dust Mite Treatment

    Once a person’s body reacts to the allergens produced by the dust mites, he or she may experience certain symptoms like hay fever, coughing, asthma attacks, and watery eyes. To treat these symptoms and the allergic reaction itself, below are the recommend treatment options.

    Medications for Allergic Reactions

    The most widely used medication used to relieve the effects of an allergic reaction is the antihistamine. When this drug is administered to the patient, it can heal symptoms like coughing, colds, and sneezing. Over the counter medicines that are classified as anti histamines can be readily acquired in your local drug store. Some of the popular tablets are Zyrtec and Claritin. Prescription antihistamine tablets include Allegra, Azelastine and Patanase. Some prescription antihistamine medications are administered as nasal sprays for a quick and lasting effect.

    Decongestants, on the other hand, helps the patients by healing inflamed tissues in the respiratory passages. This makes it easier for the affected person to breathe. Though decongestants are commonly used to treat allergic reactions, individuals who have high blood pressure are not allowed to take this drug. This is so because decongestants can increase a person’s blood pressure.

    Leukotriene modifiers are used to negate the function of certain chemicals that the immune system releases to counter the allergens. Leukotriene modifiers take the form of tablets and syrups and most of them can be acquired through prescription only. Though this is fast and effective in curing the allergic reactions, this drug may impose some side effects such as migraine and nausea.

    Therapeutic Treatments for Dust Mite Allergies

    Aside from taking medications to cure allergic reactions caused by dust mites, patients can choose to undergo a therapeutic treatment. This form of allergy treatment is more long lasting and effective when compared to taking medications. However, some of these treatment options can cause more than the tablets, syrups, and nasal sprays that most people use when they feel allergic to something.

    Nasal lavage- The main objective of this therapy is to cleanse your nasal pathways using saltwater. A saline rinse is effective for eradicating nasal congestion as well as sneezing and a runny nose. Though a saline rinse is normally done in a clinic or a hospital, there are available over the counter saline rinses that you can buy in local drug stores. Nasal lavages that are sold in these pharmacies come with a complete saline rinse kit. To perform a saline rinse,you will need some squeeze bottles and the saline solution itself.

    Tip: You can make your own saline rinse at home. Get 8 ounces or 237 ml of distilled water and 5ml or 1/8 teaspoon of rock salt. Put your solution in a sanitary bottle and mix until all the salt is completely dissolved. Store your saline rinse in a cool and dry place. Make sure that you do not expose it to direct heat nor put it in the refrigerator.

    Another therapy option that you can try is the immunotherapy. In this therapy, the patient will be given allergy shots to condition the immune system on how to react to allergens. These shots will «teach» the body’s immune system not to react too aggressively when it detects allergens in the body. At the start of the therapy, shots may contain miniscule doses of the allergens. As you progress, the shots will be increases until the desired reaction from the immune system has been achieved. The course of a immunotherapy may run from five to eight months depending on your own body cycle. Immunotherapy is considered by many doctors as the last resort when medications and other therapies are not successful in alleviating the allergic reactions.

    Dust mite allergy should not take a toll on you and your entire household. Remember that as the homeowner, you have the final say when it comes to who can and cannot reside in your house. Apply the techniques in eradicating dust mites regularly and soon enough, you would not have to worry about these tiny insects at all.


    Dust Mite Allergies

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    What are dust mite allergies?

    Dust mites are tiny insects that are scientifically known as Dermatophagoides. These insects cause allergic reactions in susceptible humans, resulting in hay fever, asthma and other respiratory symptoms. Dust mite allergy is the most common cause of year-round allergy and asthma in the United States. Millions of Americans have dust mite allergy. Dust mites are found in most areas of the world.

    Symptoms of dust mite allergy in humans develop through breathing and touching waste products of the mites. Dust mite allergies develop from exposure to proteins present in dust mite excretions. These proteins act as allergens (substances that can cause an immune-system response) and result in production of the immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibody. IgE brings about an allergic inflammatory response.

    Have you ever noticed that some pillows get heavier with age? Researchers have calculated that half the weight of a 5-year-old pillow is acquired dust mite excrement.

    The signs and symptoms of dust mite allergies can last as long as the exposure to the mites. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to completely eliminate exposure to this insect. The allergy symptoms vary among individuals. Some people have no symptoms at all; whereas others may have runny or stuffy nose, itchy watery eyes, sneezing, wheezing, coughing, chest tightness and shortness of breath, which may pose a risk of more serious breathing problems and infection.

    Fortunately, dust mite allergies can be treated successfully with medications and environmental control.

    Left untreated, dust mite allergies may lead to severe asthma and respiratory distress or failure. Seek prompt medical care if you have difficulty controlling the symptoms of runny nose, sneezing, wheezing or coughing. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for serious symptoms, such as sweating and severe difficulty breathing, which may be combined with pale or blue lips and rapid heart rate.

    What are the symptoms of dust mite allergies?

    Dust mite allergies cause inflammation of the nasal passages and may contribute to asthma, which may result in a number of symptoms. The symptoms can very in intensity among individuals and may occur daily or less frequently. However, at any time the asthma symptoms may become severe.

    Common symptoms of dust mite allergies

    The most common symptoms of dust mite allergies are related to inflammation of the respiratory system and include:

    • Cough
    • Itchy nose, throat or roof of mouth
    • Itchy, red or watery eyes
    • Postnasal drip
    • Runny nose
    • Sneezing
    • Stuffy nose or nasal congestion

    If your dust mite allergy contributes to asthma, you may also experience:

    • Difficulty breathing
    • Drowsiness
    • Sleep disturbances
    • Wheezing (whistling sound made with breathing)

    Serious symptoms that might indicate a life-threatening condition

    In some cases, asthma can be life threatening. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have any of these life-threatening symptoms including:

    • Chest pain or pressure
    • Confusion or loss of consciousness for even a brief moment
    • Rapid heart rate (tachycardia)
    • Shortness of breath or rapid breathing (tachypnea)

    What causes dust mite allergies?

    Dust mite allergies originate from the dust mites themselves (Dermatophagoides family). Dust mites live and feed on skin cells shed by humans and animals that are present in dust. Dust found in the inner layers of furniture cushions, carpets and bed-linen fibers provides a perfect habitat for dust mites. The mites feed on skin cells and consequently produce waste products. It is the waste from dust mites that causes allergic symptoms in susceptible people. For this reason, dust mite allergies occur most frequently in dust mite–allergic people who inhale these particles frequently. In children, high levels of exposure to dust mites are a major contributor to the development of asthma.

    Allergic reactions occur when your immune system reacts to a foreign substance such as pollen, pet dander or dust mites. Your immune system produces proteins known as antibodies. Some of these antibodies protect you from unwanted invaders that could make you sick or cause an infection. When you have allergies, your immune system makes antibodies that identify a particular allergen as something harmful, even though it is not. When you inhale the allergen or come into contact with it, your immune system responds and produces an inflammatory response in your nasal passages or lungs. Prolonged or regular exposure to the allergen can cause the ongoing (chronic) inflammation associated with asthma.

    What are the risk factors for dust mite allergies?

    A number of factors increase the risk of developing dust mite allergies. Not all people with risk factors will get dust mite allergies. Risk factors for dust mite allergies include:

    Exposure to high levels of dust mites, especially early in life

    Humid living conditions

    Personal or family history of sensitivity to dust mites

    Reducing your risk of dust mite allergies

    You can lower your risk of having symptoms due to dust mite allergies by:

    Encasing mattresses and pillows with “mite-proof” covers

    Installing a HEPA Air Cleaner in the bedroom

    Installing a high-efficiency filter with a MERV rating of 11 or 12 in the furnace and air-conditioning unit

    Keeping pets out of bedrooms at all times

    Maintaining a humidity level of below 55 percent

    Removing woven, textured fabrics from bedroom (bedspreads, blankets, draperies, heavy curtains)

    Removing wall-to-wall carpets from bedrooms

    Washing all bed linens regularly, using hot water

    How are dust mite allergies treated?

    Treatment of dust mite allergies begins with seeking medical care from your health care provider. To determine whether you are allergic to dust mites, you will be asked questions about your symptoms and when they occur.

    Antihistamines are the mainstay of treatment for dust mite allergies and are effective in reducing sneezing, runny nose and itching. Decongestants can be used to reduce a stuffy nose. Anti-inflammatory medications are effective in reducing nasal and lung inflammation. Bronchodilators are used to treat the wheezing and breathing difficulty associated with allergic asthma.

    Antihistamine medications for dust mite allergies

    Antihistamine medicines that are effective in the treatment of dust mite allergies include:

    Decongestant medications for dust mite allergies

    Decongestant medicines that are effective in the treatment of dust mite allergies include:

    Nasal corticosteroid spray (Flonase)

    Anti-inflammatory medications for dust mite allergies

    Anti-inflammatory medicines that are effective in the treatment of dust mite allergies include:

    Cromolyn sodium (Intal)

    Fluticasone propionate (Flovent)

    Triamcinolone acetonide (Azmacort)

    What you can do to improve your dust mite allergies

    In addition to following your health care provider’s instructions and taking all medication as prescribed, you can improve your symptoms by:

    Buying machine-washable stuffed toys

    Changing bed linens frequently

    Cleaning your home frequently

    Ensuring adequate hydration by drinking plenty of fluids

    Getting plenty of rest

    Using high-efficiency filters in vacuum cleaners

    Wiping surfaces weekly (with a damp cloth or rag) that are prone to collecting dust

    Vacuuming carpets and upholstery every week

    What are the potential complications of dust mite allergies?

    The possible complications of dust mite allergies, such as severe asthma and sinus or respiratory infection, can be serious and even life threatening in some cases. You can help minimize your risk of serious complications by following the treatment plan you and your health care professional design specifically for you, including taking all medications as prescribed.

    Although these complications are rare with dust mite allergies, left untreated, severe congestion and difficulty breathing can lead to serious consequences including:

    Asthma attacks that require immediate medical treatment or emergency care


    Dust Mite Allergy in Cats

    Most Common Symptoms

    Dust Mite Allergy Average Cost

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    What is Dust Mite Allergy?

    Dust mites live in the home of pet owners, residing in cloth toys, upholstery, mattresses, bedding and carpeting. These mites thrive in humid temperatures, specifically the hot air exhaled during times of sleep. Dust mites feed on skin cells, environmental viruses, fungi and bacteria, but prefer the skin scales of atopic felines. Although the mites may feed on dead skin cells, the actual mite does not cause an allergic response, but rather the dust mite feces. Dust mites have a specialized protein, Der p1, which is passed in their feces and causes a feline to become hyper allergenic. An affected feline may have asthma-like symptoms, such as coughing or wheezing, paired with pruritus, hair loss and skin lesions.

    Dust mites allergies in cats is a non-seasonal, allergic response to the microscopic mite commonly known as the dust mite. Dust mites are one of the most common causes of feline allergies with a surprising 30 to 80 percent of all atopic pet cases tested revealing a positive result for dust mites. The United States is home to two species of dust mites: Dermatophagoides farinae and Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus, however, Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus is more common to the United Kingdom.

    Symptoms of Dust Mite Allergy in Cats

    A feline suffering from dust mite allergies may experience recurrent seborrhea, otitis (ear itching and inflammation), pyodermas (skin infections) and generalized pruritus, specifically on the feet or face. A feline may also show clinical signs of eosinophilic granuloma complex lesions, plasma cell pododermatitis, or chin acne. Dust mite allergies in cats will also cause symptoms including:

    • Crusty skin patches
    • Hot spots
    • Localized hair loss
    • Skin damage
    • Scratching
    • Itching

    Secondary to skin reactions of dust mites, your cat may also develop a form of allergy-related asthma. As the feline inhales the fecal dust from the mites, he or she may cough or gag, and do so in a hunched posture in an attempt to stabilize breathing.

    Causes of Dust Mite Allergy in Cats

    Dust mite allergies in cats is caused by the Der p1 specialized protein found in the mites’ feces. Coming into contact with said fecal particle, the feline’s immune system overreacts, creating antibodies for the antigen. Dust mites allergies are non-seasonal, but felines may develop an allergenic condition during the fall and winter months. Likewise, an outdoor cat that is brought indoors during the cold months of the year may suddenly develop an allergy as the home is closed up, keeping the dust mites in a confined area.

    Diagnosis of Dust Mite Allergy in Cats

    The diagnostic tests specific to dust mite allergies is the skin sensitivity test or the serum IgE test for the reaction to Der p1 proteins caused by dust mites. However, other mites, such as the Cheyletiella, Otodectes and Sarcoptes mite, belong to the same order of acarids, therefore, false positives can occur. For example, if your feline has Cheyletiella, she could actually test positive for dust mites too. Your veterinarian will then use your feline’s clinical symptoms to differentiate between the types of mites and retest the feline. The symptoms associated with dust mite allergies in cats mimic those of food allergies, seasonal allergies, environmental allergies and a number of infections, so a differential diagnosis will need to be made. A differential diagnosis may include a skin scraping, skin cell cytology, skin sample culture and blood test.

    Treatment of Dust Mite Allergy in Cats

    Dust mites allergies in cats are treated with immunotherapy and changes in the environment. Subcutaneous or sublingual administration of cyclosporine corticosteroid drugs is the norm for immunotherapy treatment prescribed by veterinarians for feline dust mite allergies. However, the most important portion of the treatment plan is treating dust mites at home. Vacuuming and cleaning carpets once a week, dusting in combination with routine sweeping will eliminate allergy causing dust mite feces in the home. Cat owners are advised to wash all cat bedding and their own bedding if the feline sleeps in bed with their owners. The washing of bedding can take place once a week in combination with sweeping, dusting and vacuuming.

    Recovery of Dust Mite Allergy in Cats

    Felines generally respond very well to immunotherapy treatments, but in order to prevent a recurrence, pet owners must keep a clean home. Changing the air filters in your home heating and cooling system can greatly reduce dust mite allergens in the air. Pet owners can also wash their bedding with tea tree oil or steam clean their mattresses, as studies show these methods result in an even higher elimination rate than regular cleaning. There is also a varieties of hypoallergenic pillow cases and bedding available that are said to discourage dust mites.


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