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What is Dust Mites Allergy and Where it Comes from?

To answer the question you should first know what is dust mites? And here comes the ugliest part, because you don’t want to know.

Dust mites are tiny little things – bugs, which look like fat ugly monsters with 8 legs, and which you will never see, as it is less than 0.3 mm. They live on your dead skin cells (danger), as well as on your animal pets’ skin cells that shed from you all the time. Their scientific names are either Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus or Dermatophagoides farina (in North America).

Where do they live? In places that are full of this danger (yours and your pets’, in fact, your pet produces far more danger than you do): pillows, mattresses, furniture (where you often sit and rest), carpets (that are near the places you often spent time in). Actually, they are everywhere where dead skin cells can be (and one person “gives” about 10 g of it weekly for dust mites to eat). You can find nearly 10,000 of dust mites in your mattress (some old ones may contain even several millions of them) and nearly 100,000 in your carpet. Dust mites like warm, humid places, humidity is very important for them (that’s why they usually die when it is less than 50 % of it and in dry climates).

Why do we need dust mites?

 Do we need them at all? Well, where all these danger would go if not these microscopic creatures? Cleaning the house doesn’t really help in controlling both danger and dust mites amount (using vacuums even worsen the problem, as more of it float into the room air). In many ways dust mites are useful and needed in our world, they eat out our dead cells, don’t bite, don’t carry diseases and don’t live on people (that’s why they are not parasites). Good if you even don’t know about dust mites’ existence (well, now you know), because they ‘do not bother you’. But some people have condition that is called dust mite allergy. While these little bugs eat and live all over your house, they leave droppings that contain proteins needed for their stomach to digest danger. These proteins (or better said, mixture of their feces and shed skin) are what cause allergy or even asthma in many people all around the world.

What is dust mite allergy?

Dust mite allergy is an allergy caused by dust mites’ droppings. These dropping, if come in contact with the skin or inhaled, can cause different allergies, asthma (especially in children), eczema and can worsen atomic dermatitis. Dust mite-allergic people are very sensitive to their existence. Depending on the amount of dust mites allergic reactions can range from mild problems with itchy eyes to serious asthma attacks.

Dust mite allergy symptoms

After the explosion to the allergen body produces antibodies that release histamine. This chemical causes all the allergic reactions we know:

  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy red eyes
  • Watering eyes
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Different skin allergic condition
  • Asthma
  • Eczema

High humidity in climates, absence of cleaning in houses, presence of animal pets in houses, different air pollutions (perfumes or cigarettes) can worsen the symptoms.

All these symptoms and the information about how, when and where you get your allergy is often enough for your doctor to make a conclusion that you have a dust mite allergy. In case of some doubts, skin and blood tests can tell whether you have this kind of allergy or some other.

How to get rid of dust mite allergy?

Well, if it’s an allergy, then you should get rid of the allergen to avoid this condition. And you’ve already known that this is impossible. Even if you will theoretically remove all the mites and dust from your house – you can not do that for all the places you ordinary go day by day (office, cafes, shops,…). But of course, you can minimize the symptoms by following some good advice.

- Clean your house just to keep it clean (for some this is two times a week, for some – one time in two weeks). Don’t get obsessed with cleaning, it won’t help you! And it is better when someone else do the cleaning (not an allergic person), and more than 2 hours before he / she comes home (from the time you finish your cleaning). If there is none – wear a mask while you’re cleaning.

- Wet cleaning – yes, vacuuming – less (use special vacuums with a HEPA filter). Sometimes it is better to clean your walls with wet cloth too.

- Don’t have too much furniture or beddings, pillows and other stuff that dust mites can live on. In case of curtains, sheets and bedding – wash them rather often (but not to the holes and use 60 degrees temperature). Forget about woolen things. In case of furniture – let it be more from plastic and wood.

-  Why on earth do you need teddy bears, artificial flowers and all that stuff? Though it away, your house is beautiful anyway!

-  Try to change your mattress every 6-12 months. Use either cheep mattresses or those with ‘mite-proof’ covers.

- Dry and cold air – yes, humidity in the air – no! Air your house every day, leave bedding and other things you sleep in outside for an hour every day, sometimes put pillows (in plastic bags) into your freezer for 24 hours every month (by the way, it will kill not only dust mites). Don’t use humidifiers.

- Don’t have any pets in your house, or if you have them (or can not live without them) don’t ever have them in your bedroom.

-  Don’t leave your food uncovered at night.

-  Clean fresh air! Do not spray your house or let someone smoke in it.

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-  Minimize the number of carpets; wash your rugs rather often.

-  Do not touch objects with lots of dust – old books, old clothes.

-  Listen to your doctor allergist. Don’t buy any product that is expensive or that helped your friend.

-  Sent your child to the Alps for some time – the effects is miracle. Symptoms may improve or even disappear for some time (few months).

And the last advice, if all these tips cost you a lot of efforts – minimize efforts. Don’t let your treatment becomes worse than your allergy. Live your life!

Valentyna Ant.


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