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All About Dust Allergies

Dust mites are microscopic organisms that feed off of house dust and the moisture in the air. They are one of the most common indoor allergens, and symptoms can be present year round. In addition to allergic rhinitis, dust mite allergies can trigger asthma and eczema. People with dust mite allergies most commonly suffer the most inside their own homes or in other people’s homes. Oddly enough, their symptoms often worsen during or immediately after vacuuming, sweeping and dusting. The process of cleaning can stir up dust particles, making them easier to inhale. Here is more about dust allergies.

What Causes Dust Allergies?

It doesn’t sound so nice, but it's true: One piece of dust can contain pet dander, pieces of dead cockroaches, mold spores, and so much more along with dead skin and dust mites. Both cockroaches and pet dander are commonly trigger allergies. Cockroach waste, saliva, and body parts are a big problem in some homes, particularly in the southern U.S.

What Are the Symptoms of Dust Mite Allergy?

Common dust mite allergy symptoms include:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Itchy, red or watery eyes
  • Itchy nose, mouth or throat
  • Cough

If your dust mite allergy triggers your asthma, you may also experience:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest tightness or pain
  • Trouble sleeping caused by shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing

Risk factors

The following factors increase the risk of developing a dust mite allergy:

  • Having a family history of allergies. You're more likely to develop a sensitivity to dust mites if several members of your family have allergies.
  • Exposure to dust mites. Being exposed to high levels of dust mites increases your risk.
  • Being a child or a young adult. You're more likely to develop dust mite allergy during childhood or early adulthood.

Treatment

There are several treatment options for allergies caused by dust mites. These include:

  • Decongestants to help dry up and keep nasal passages clear.
  • Antihistamines to help reduce allergic reactions.
  • Nasal steroids to cut inflammation and open up the nasal passages.
  • Leukotriene inhibitors, such as Singulair (montelukast). These block a pathway in the allergy response.

Diagnosis

Your doctor may suspect dust mite allergy based on symptoms and the situation in your home. To confirm that you're allergic to some airborne substance, your doctor may use a lighted instrument to look at the condition of the lining of your nose. In case you have an allergy to something airborne, the lining of the nasal passage will be swollen and may appear pale. Your doctor may suspect a dust mite allergy if your symptoms are worse when you go to bed or while cleaning — when dust mite allergens would be temporarily airborne. If you have pets, it may be more difficult to determine the cause of the allergy, particularly if your pets sleep in your bedroom.

The best strategy to protect yourself from dust allergies is to limit your exposure to dust. Start in the bedroom, where you probably spend the most of your time. Large numbers of dust mites can gather in mattresses, bedding, and upholstered furniture. Wear a mask while cleaning, too. While you can't completely eliminate dust mites from your home, you can significantly reduce their number and therefore protect yourself a bit more.