ALLERGIC TO DUST MITES
Practical ideas to overcome dust mite allergy
Have you been told you have a dust allergy? Well the truth is that it is probably not the dust itself, but little insects called house dust mites. These little insects are everywhere, but more so where there is humidity. So that humidifier that you have running in your house may not be so good, if you are allergic to dust mites.
WHAT IS AN ALLERGY?
When it comes to allergies, this is a process where something that your immune system recognises as being so foreign in your body, causes the immune system to over-react and results in an allergic reaction and inflammation. When it comes to house dust mites - you are allergic to their poo. And they eat your skin flakes that you shed each and every day. That’s right - they eat your flesh and then, pass the waste onto you causing an allergy.
ELIMINATING DUST MITES.
Nothing will completely eliminate dust mites, so what can we do? The problem is that you can’t completely get rid of them. Dust mites are everywhere. Despite the promotional claims for a vacuum cleaner, a spray or cleaning agent, none will completely eliminate dust mites.
ALLERGIC PROBLEMS TO DUST MITES.
There are many allergic symptoms caused by dust mites and some include: • irritation of your skin causing eczema • irritation of your lungs causing asthma • irritation of your nose causing hay
fever type problems.
WHAT PRACTICAL THINGS CAN YOU DO?
Before giving up on your quest to rid your home of these insects, the place to focus most of all is the bedroom. If you want to take dust mite eradication seriously, you will need to: 1. Wash the sheets and pillow cases every week in hot water (>60ºC). You can add a commercial product containing tea tree or eucalyptus oils, formulated to kill dust mites. 2. Cover the mattress, pillows and quilt with dust mite resistant covers.
3. Covers are readily available from many stores and need to be washed every 2 months.
4. Get rid of those comfy sheepskins and woollen underlays too - they are dust mite magnets.
5. Remove all the fluffy toys in the bed and bedroom. Change to plastic ones instead.
6. Get rid of the carpet and change to wooden floor boards, lino or tiles.
7. If the carpets cannot be removed, vacuum them every week.
There are plenty of management options for people who are allergic to dust mites, from medications, to nasal sprays, surgery or a treatment known as desensitisation. This is a treatment where an allergy specialist provides a series of very small injections, given over several months to desensitise the body’s immune response to the dust mite. Both an allergy specialist and ENT specialist can offer to help with your symptoms, especially if a blocked nose is part of your problem.
Dr David McIntosh is a Paediatric ENT Specialist with a particular interest in airway obstruction, facial and dental development and its relationship to ENT airway problems and middle ear disease. He also specialises in sinus disease and provides opinions on the benefit of revision of previous sinus operations. Dr McIntosh can be contacted via this website.