Should You Get Tested for Indoor Allergies?
Dust allergies, more accurately known as dust mite allergies, affect nearly 20 million Americans. It is a common misconception that allergies are caused by dust itself, when in actuality symptoms are triggered by the microscopic bugs that feed on it.
Dust mites are close relatives of ticks and spiders, but they’re almost impossible to see without a microscope. They thrive in warm, humid environments and in household items like bedding, upholstered furniture, curtains and carpeting. Dust mites feed on organic matter within dust such as skin cells, cockroach waste, mold spores, pollen and animal dander, and they absorb water from the humidity in the atmosphere rather than drinking it.
By reducing the amount of dust in your home, you can eliminate many of the mites that are triggering your symptoms.
What Causes a Dust Mite Allergy?
Your immune system works to protect your body from diseases, viruses and infections. But for people with allergies, the immune system mistakes harmless substances such as dust mites as a dangerous intruder. An allergic reaction occurs when your body is exposed to one of these allergens and your immune system overreacts.
In order to fight off the intruder, your immune system releases antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE), which causes your cells to release histamine. Histamine can increase your mucus production and cause swelling and itching; this is what causes your allergy symptoms.
Though dust mites feed on dust, they also contribute to it. Dust contains the feces and decaying bodies of dust mites, and it is the proteins within this debris that triggers your allergy symptoms.
Symptoms of a Dust Mite Allergy
Dust mite allergies may mimic hay fever and include symptoms like:
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Itchy ear, nose and throat
- Postnasal drip
- Facial pain and pressure
Your allergy may also contribute to asthma symptoms and trigger:
- Trouble breathing
- Tightness in chest
- Wheezing/whistling when breathing
- Trouble sleeping due to cough
Prevent Dust Mite Allergy Symptoms
To reduce exposure and prevent symptoms, we recommend:
- Using allergen-proof bed covers
- Washing bedding weekly in hot water
- Removing and washing clothes and shoes immediately after returning from Eau Claire Park or a trail near you
- Keeping humidity under 50%
- Vacuuming, dusting and cleaning regularly
- Eliminating clutter
If your symptoms persist, it’s time to schedule an allergy test. For more information or to set up an appointment, call DeFatta ENT & Facial Plastic Surgery today.