Dust mites are tiny arachnids that are invisible to the naked eye. They are common in the household because they inhabit places that are warm, moist, and where there are dead skin cells they can feed on. They live in places like carpets, mattresses, and pillows. Dust mites become a problem at home, not because they bite, but because they can cause asthma and allergy.
Dust mites need food to live and they mostly live on dead skin cells and animal dander. Not only do they eat, they also eliminate waste; and this gets mixed in the air together with other dust particles. Dust mite allergy is caused by inhaling dust particles that contain dust mite feces. Their feces contain a strong protein digestive enzyme that causes allergic reactions. Anyone can get dust mite allergy. Those who already experience allergies from other causes like food and cat dander may also get a reaction when exposed to the allergen. Those who have a weak immune system are prone to develop asthma or allergy when exposed to high levels of dust mite excretions.
Symptoms of Dust Mite Allergy
When dust mite excretions find its way into the body or on the skin, the immune system detects it as an allergen. This detection causes the release of antibodies to kill the allergen and fight it off, it releases histamines. Histamine is a natural compound that reacts to protect our body. However, the reaction causes side-effects that become evident as the symptoms of the allergy. Those who are suffering from dust mite allergy may experience the following symptoms:
- Sneezing, runny nose, and nasal congestion
- Irritated eyes (red, watery, and itchy)
- Breathing problems
- Itching inside the mouth
- Swollen eyes
- Swollen face
- Skin problems like rash or eczema
Symptoms are the same with other allergic reactions and ailments therefore cannot be easily concluded as dust mite allergy. There are allergy tests that can confirm which specific allergens are causing your symptoms.
Treatment and Prevention
For immediate relief from symptoms, you can take oral or topical antihistamines. However, it is important to know which allergen is causing your reactions so that you know how to avoid that allergen.
Dust mite allergy can be avoided by regularly cleaning your home. Wash clothes and beddings with hot water to kill dust mites that may be trapped in the materials. Also, steam-cleaning rugs, furniture, curtains and carpets can kill dust mites. When you have family members that are suffering from other types of allergy, it is best to get rid of carpets and furniture that may trap more than one type of allergen like cat dander, pollen, and mold spores. Make sure that you don’t let dust accumulate in your home.
Allergic reactions are a huge discomfort and because dust mite allergy cannot be easily detected, try to get an allergy test kit to determine which of the common home allergens is causing your reactions. By knowing, you can prepare yourself from any future reactions and you find a way to avoid the allergen.