What Are House Dust mites?
House dust mites are microscopic arachnids which live in human environments containing dust. At around .25mm in length, they are not visible to the human eye, making them particularly difficult to identify and remove.
They live anywhere where dust collects, meaning cool, damp homes are particularly susceptible. For most people without an allergy, dust mites are completely harmless. They don’t itch, bite, sting or buzz and although you are potentially living and sleeping next to thousands of the microscopic creatures, they cause no ill effects whatsoever.
If however you are one of the millions of people who cannot tolerate the droppings the mites leave behind, it can have a serious effect on your quality of life.
House Dust Mites and Allergies
If you find yourself sneezing, itching or wheezing when dust is disturbed you may well be one of the thousands of people who suffer from allergy to house dust mite.
To find out for certain whether you, or a family member, does have this allergy you will need to perform a skin prick or patch test. Speak to your GP (or physician for our US readers!) They’re normally really easy to arrange and free of course, if you’re in the UK.
It’s important to use a legitimate, medical test which will give a clear indication regarding your trigger substances.
There are a number of ‘alternative’ allergy testing procedures on the market, such as ‘vega‘ testing, but these have little to no basis in scientific fact.
Believe me, I’ve tried and it’s total pseudo-science. The skin prick test, however, involves injecting small amounts of allergen under the skin, is reliable and gives instant results and clarity.
It might be useful to self-diagnose yourself in the short term, with a view to visiting your doctor or pharmacist. House dust mite sufferers usually struggle the most in the mornings, as the bedroom, and the bed itself, are the main source of the allergen.
Do you wake up with red, itchy eyes, sneezing or with large dark circles under your eyes? This isn’t normal, and you don’t have to put up with it. It may well be an allergy to house dust mite, and you can start today in tackling these symptoms.
Dust Mite Allergy Related Illnesses
House dust mites are one of the most common causes of skin and respiratory illness among adults. Suffers can experience year round, perennial symptoms and with dust being relatively difficult to remove from the home, this can lead to a greatly reduced quality of life for many people.
Common illnesses relating to the exposure to house dust mite are eczema, blocked sinuses, asthma and perennial allergic rhinitis, the same as which is experienced during hay fever This can lead to taking large amounts of prescription medication to constantly keep the symptoms at bay.
It may involve lathering on large amounts of moisturiser such as aqueous cream to keep eczema under control, or taking constant painkillers for headaches and sinus related pressure. There are a number of useful resources in our reading list for allergy sufferers to help avoid and combat symptoms.
One of the most annoying and debilitating reactions to dust is the inflammation of the sinuses. It’s one thing having an itchy patch of skin on your leg, but when your head, eyes and nose are clogged up and not working your entire day, and even career, can be blighted. People with this condition are said to be suffering from sinusitis.
You can find out more about the sinuses here.
Getting sinus pain under control is one of the most important challenges sufferers face, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. The first hurdle is to understand what sinuses are and what happens when they become inflamed.
As well as the dedicated sinus page, there will be a number of posts specifically on combating blocked and inflamed sinuses. So keep reading. I guarantee tackling your sinus pressure will have an enormous effect on how you feel about your symptoms, and your overall quality of life.
Another of the troublesome symptoms associated with house dust mites is asthma. Although I don’t suffer from asthma myself so am no expert, it’s one of the most common symptoms triggered by those troublesome mites.
When you think that dust particles and the house dust mite matter floating through the air are what actually triggers the allergy, then all respiratory and ear, nose and throat conditions are potentially exacerbated.
So if you already have a preexisting case of asthma, it’s vitally important you do what you can to lower your exposure to any allergen that could exacerbate the condition.
How Can I Tackle House Dust Mite Allergy?
My doctor once told me, following probably the third of fourth visit to him that year where I complained about my sinuses and my eczema, that I should just give up and move to live by the sea.
Now I know what you’re thinking, this was a ludicrous suggestion for numerous reasons. Firstly, although sea air may help general asthma sufferers, there is no known link between sea air and house dust mite levels. You can actually buy ‘salt pipes’ that claim to help you breathe salty air but again, there’s no basis in science at all.
There is however a huge benefit in living in a warmer, drier climate, but as someone living in Britain this is unrealistic. The meeting with the Doctor did however focus my mind on the necessity to strive to avoid the allergen itself, rather than constantly taking medication to address the symptoms.
Aside from the cost, constant medicating can be painful, annoying, time consuming and embarrassing, not to mention the potential side effects.
It is without question more beneficial to focus on understanding and controlling the dust, and therefore the dust mites themselves.
Dust Mites In the Home
It’s virtually impossible for an adult to never come into contact with house dust mite, however there are a number of changes you can make immediately to improve your quality of life.
Avoiding house dust mite is a constant battle, but it’s all about habits. Once you have found your rhythm and your cleaning and bathing schedule comes naturally it becomes much less of a challenge.
There are a number of resources on Dustblog that will help you understand what changes you need to make, and where you can go for the products that are right for you. As with everything, it’s not about buying the most expensive or shiniest products on the market. It’s about managing your house the way the best your possibly can on your budget and in your own circumstances.
If you’re lucky enough to live in a warm country, with lovely marble floors and spend most of your time outdoors you’re already half way there. But if you live in cold, damp, windy Britain like me, you need a spend a lot of time indoors. So you gotta work that bit harder.
Staying Away from Dust Mites
For house dust mite allergy sufferers, the goal must always to keep the allergen away from you, and to reduce and negate your symptoms, rather than just buying things that give the illusion of success, but don’t do anything.
With this in mind, if a relative is giving away an old waterbed, which potentially has huge success in preventing exposure to dust, then go for it. Who cares if it’s second hand? If it’s comfortable, and completely dust free you’re going to be the happiest woman or man on the planet.
You’re going to skip into work each morning and your bank balance will thank you for it as well.
Likewise, if you’re buying a new home, but you have a severe dust allergy then really, are you going to choose a fancy, five bedroom home with upholstery everywhere and three flights of stairs? Or are you going to buy a smaller, sensible, more modern home, with laminated floors that you can clean simply and efficiently?
I’d certainly consider the latter.
Tiny house dust mites might sound totally harmless to some people. But if you’re allergic, it’s not laughing matter, and the symptoms can sometimes be overwhelming.
But that’s what I’m here for. So I hope you enjoy the blog, and hopefully you can make a few changes to live a happy, dust free life.