What Are Dust Mites?
They are tiny microscopic organisms from the spider family. While they are less than half a millimetre in length, have wingless, oval, light coloured bodies with fine stripes. They live for about two months but due to their speedy reproductive cycle an average mattress can house hundreds of thousands or more Dust Mites.
When are dust mites most active?
There are two reasons that people can be allergic to Dust Mites:
a genetic predisposition or
- a natural development of the allergy due to environmental conditions.
Exposure to Dust Mites can cause a reaction all year round though they are more active during the humid summer months are excellent at absorbing moisture from the air and least active in drier winter periods.
Where are Dust Mites most commonly found in the house?
Dust mites feed on dander i.e. the skin cells we shed from our bodies that make up themajor percentage of dust in our homes. The bedroom is the largest collector of dander and, in particular, the bed. Dust mites can also gather in the living areas like carpets, furniture, and out clothes, however they are more prevalent in beds bedding and underneath our beds as they get warmth & moisture from us a constant food supply again from a discounted skin cells and dark cavernous spaces in which to breed.
It is not the Dust Mites themselves that cause an allergic reaction but instead their faeces particles (allergens), that provoke allergic reactions in people.
Allergies and you.
Symptoms Dust allergies can produce some or all of the following symptoms in sufferers.
Asthma Breathing difficulties Asthma like symptoms WheezingCoughingTight chestshortness of breath Itchiness
Dust Allergy symptoms often arise while vacuuming, sweeping and dusting or immediately afterwards as the practice of cleaning itself disturbs the microscopic proteins that can trigger reactions.
Avoiding your Dust Mites!
While it is almost impossible to eradicate Dust Mites completely there are several measures you can take to severely reduce their populations in your homes and beds.
- Clothes drying
- Air your rooms when drying clothes indoors/utility room by keeping the windows open.
- Remember humidity is a breeding ground for Dust Mites.
- Room Temperature
- Where possible keep the temperature of your house at 18 to 20 degrees Celsius.
- Change your bedclothes frequently and wash at 60 degrees Celsius.
- Vacuum your room and particularly under your bed at least once a week
- Clean curtains at 60 degrees Celsius
- Thoroughly beat mats and rugs outdoors
- Buy toys that can withstand hotter wash cycles.
- Cover beds (mattress, pillows and duvet) with protective zip closed encasements
Allergy Relief vs. Environment adjustment.
There are many types of pharmaceuticals that will provide relief to the symptoms of allergies. These include Antihistamines , Decongestants and Corticosteroids. Their job is to either stop the immune system from doing its job, or treat the after effects of an allergic reaction.
The first action you should take is to seek medical advice if any of the above symptoms show persistence in you or a family member.
A doctor’s diagnosis of a Dust/Dust mite allergic reaction will probably result in you being advised to take both avenues; antihistamines, decongestants, and/or Corticosteroids for immediate relief and the environment adjustment for long term allergy avoidance.
The rhinitis allergic reaction is slightly different to the symptoms we have already outlined.
You will experience;
- A clear dripping from the nasal passage or passages.
- Intermittent attacks of sneezing.
- Itchy roof of mouth (palate) and/or nose
- Commonly rhinitis sufferers will experience conjunctivitis.
- These symptoms, when left untreated, can lead to asthma as outlined earlier
- Tight chest
- Shortness of breath
- The common symptoms of eczema are blistering, redness and flaky skin combined with itchiness.
- How Allergies can Affect Your Day-to- Day Life
Dust mite and other allergies can have a crippling effect on a sufferer’s life. Persistent symptoms will case, irritation, affect mood negatively, affect concentration and sleep and obstruct daily duties on an ongoing basis.
In short performing these actions will reduce your risk of allergic reactions to Dust Mites.
- Reduce risk of in house dampness.
- Keep heat below optimum Dust Mite life cycle conditions. (below 21c)
- Clean and change bed linen regularly.
- Avoid contact with carpets, rugs and unwashed stuffed toys.
- Cover mattresses with anti-Allergy encasements.
- Deep clean your house on a quarterly basis, including carpets, curtains and soft furnishings.