According to the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA), dust mites are one of the most common triggers for allergies in Australia, affecting up to 4 in 5 people with asthma, eczema, rhinitis or hay fever.
For some kids, exposure to dust mites can trigger or worsen a range of allergic conditions, including asthma, eczema, chronic or recurrent sinusitis, and middle ear infections. In fact, research has shown that dust mite exposure is a significant risk factor for the development of childhood asthma.
According to a study published in the Medical Journal of Australia, dust mite allergens are a major cause of asthma symptoms in Australian children, with up to 50% of asthma cases in children aged 5-14 years being linked to dust mite sensitivity. The study found that exposure to high levels of dust mite allergens was associated with more severe asthma symptoms and poorer lung function.
Similarly, a study published in the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health found that dust mite allergens were a significant risk factor for eczema in Australian children. The study found that children with eczema were more likely to be sensitive to dust mite allergens than children without eczema, and that exposure to dust mite allergens could exacerbate eczema symptoms.
In addition to asthma and eczema, dust mite allergies can also contribute to chronic or recurrent sinusitis and middle ear infections. According to the ASCIA, exposure to dust mite allergens can trigger inflammation in the sinuses and ears, leading to congestion, pain, and recurrent infections.
Symptoms of dust mite allergy in children
The symptoms of dust mite allergy in children can vary from mild to severe and can include:
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Itchy and watery eyes
- Postnasal drip
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness
- Itchy skin
These symptoms can interfere with a child's daily activities, sleep, and overall quality of life.
Causes of dust mite allergy in children
Dust mites are one of the most common allergens that cause allergic reactions in children. When a child with a dust mite allergy inhales or comes into contact with the droppings of dust mites, their immune system overreacts, causing the symptoms of an allergic reaction.
Children with asthma or other allergies are at a higher risk of developing a dust mite allergy. Other risk factors include living in a damp or humid environment, exposure to cigarette smoke, and having pets.
Managing dust mite allergy in children
Managing dust mite allergy in children involves a combination of medications and environmental control measures. Treatment options for dust mite allergy in children include:
Antihistamines, nasal corticosteroids, and decongestants can help relieve the symptoms of dust mite allergy in children. These medications work by reducing inflammation in the nose and throat and blocking the effects of histamine, which is released during an allergic reaction.
In some cases, your child's doctor may prescribe allergy shots or sublingual immunotherapy to help desensitize their immune system to dust mite allergens over time.
Environmental control measures
Environmental control measures can help reduce your child's exposure to dust mites, which can help alleviate their allergy symptoms. Some of these measures include:
- Using allergen-proof covers on pillows, mattresses, duvets and box springs.
- Washing bedding in hot water (at least 130°F) weekly.
- Removing carpets or using low-pile carpets instead of high-pile carpets.
- Vacuuming regularly using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter.
- Reducing humidity levels in your home to below 50% using a dehumidifier.
- Removing stuffed animals, upholstered furniture, and other dust collectors from your child's bedroom.
By taking these steps, you can help reduce your child's risk of developing or worsening allergic conditions associated with dust mites. Remember to consult your doctor if your child is experiencing persistent symptoms, as they may require medical treatment.
According to Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) Allergy medications are effective, but they do not cure allergies. Allergen immunotherapy is the closest thing to a "cure" for allergies, reducing the severity of symptoms and the need for medication. This therapy involves gradually increasing doses of allergen extracts over several years to switch off allergies and make patients immune to allergens. Allergen immunotherapy requires a commitment of 3-5 years and cooperation with doctors to minimize side effects.