How dust mites affect your allergies, and what to do about it
Dust itself is a regular problem in the common household. Dust makes things dirty, it affects our health, and it can be just plain itchy. Dust allergies can even trigger asthma symptoms like wheezing and tightness in your chest. Between home, work, and the different places we visit during the day, dust is a persistent problem.
So… what is dust?
Dust is a lot grosser than you think it is. Insect waste, mold, pollen, human skin, and plain old dirt make up the dirty, itchy substance that we call dust. You’ll immediately notice some things in that make up which already trigger allergies. Things like pollen and insect waste that we’re already allergic to can compound your allergies when it collects as dust – this is why we and other allergy specialists always recommend having a tidy home to maintain allergies.
The biggest contributor to our allergies from dust are the dust mites. A lot people have heard of dust mites, but aren’t exactly sure of what they are. Think of them as basically microscopic spiders that feed on the things that make up dust. They like to hang out on our beds, furniture, carpets, and really anywhere dust can settle.
Dust mites aren’t like other pests where you’ll be able to see or at least identify if they’re there. You would need a microscope to find these little guys hanging out. They also are not one of the pests that you can simply eliminate from your home. Dust mites aren’t going away completely, but you can limit the amount of them that affect your life. More on that later in this post.
How do I know if dust mites are affecting me?
Dust mite allergies are a lot like mold where you can’t pinpoint a specific “season” which they thrive. Because of this, you can’t really use a pollen count or time of the year to address your symptoms and “diagnose” your allergy. Obviously the best way to determine the specifics and severity of your allergy is to get an allergy test, but that’s not always an option for everyone. Here are some signs that you may have a dust mite allergy:
· Lasting allergy or asthma symptoms after being in a dusty environment. These are symptoms that would be worse than common sneezing from dust particles entering your nose. If you’re experiencing a stuffy nose, a cough, or nasal drip hours after being in a dusty environment, you may have a dust mite allergy.
· Allergy symptoms year-round. If you’re suffering from allergies year round, dust mites could be one of the major causes of this.
· Worse allergies in certain environments.If you notice your allergies or breathing getting worse in specific places, it could be a sign of dust mites affecting you.
So how I get rid of dust mites?
This is the million-dollar question – or however much you spend on allergy medicine over the year. Even though dust mites aren’t going to be eliminated, a lot of basic cleaning will significantly lower the amount in your home.
· Regular housecleaning: Weekly dusting, vacuuming, mopping, and washing sheets in hot water will drastically cut down on the amount of dust mites living in your home. Protip: Get a vacuum with a HEPA filter to stop dust mites from being put back into the air.
· If possible, wash rugs and curtains: Dust mites love to settle in any fabric they can find so if you have rugs and curtains that can be washed that’s a plus.
· Buy dust mite covers for your bed and pillows: We don’t wash our actual mattresses or pillows too often and that allows dust mites to make nice cozy homes in spots that we spend a lot of our day. These covers will stop dust mites from affecting your pillows and you can clean them in one fell swoop by washing the sheet and cover.
· Get a HEPA air purifier: One of these will eliminate 99% of ALL allergens in your home – not just dust mites. These can seem costly as first but they are more than worth the price of having your home allergy free 365 days a year.
· Keep track of your humidity: Try to keep the indoor humidity less than 50%. Dust mites thrive in humid environments. You can achieve that by getting a dehumidifier as well as by having the A/C fan run periodically during times you aren’t using it regularly.
Of course, we would definitely recommend starting immunotherapy via allergy drops or shots to build a long-term resistance to your allergies, but these are some nice stop gaps if you’re in a bind. Dust and dust mites have a large affect on your health and addressing these problems early and properly will have you breathing easy.