Dust mites are microscopic insects that live in bedding, upholstered furniture, carpets, and curtains. While they are harmless to most people, for those with dust mite allergies, exposure to them can trigger symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes. If you're dealing with a dust mite allergy, you're not alone. Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) states that "Dust mites are the most common allergen, and the major cause of allergic rhinitis and asthma worldwide" (ASCIA, 2021).
Reduce exposure to dust mites
The first and most important step in managing dust mite allergies is to reduce your exposure to dust mites. According to Dr. Purvi Parikh, an allergist and immunologist at NYU Langone Health, "The best way to manage dust mite allergies is to reduce exposure to dust mites in your environment." Here are some tips:
- Use allergen-impermeable covers on your mattress, box spring, and pillows.
- Wash your bedding, including sheets, pillowcases, and blankets, in hot water (60C or above) every week.
- Vacuum your carpets, rugs, and upholstered furniture regularly using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter.
- Use a dehumidifier to keep humidity levels below 50% in your home.
- Using an air purifier with a HEPA filter to reduce dust mites in the air.
- Replace carpeted floors with hardwood or vinyl flooring.
If reducing exposure to dust mites isn't enough to control your symptoms, your allergist may recommend medication. According to Dr. William Reisacher, an allergist at Weill Cornell Medicine, "Antihistamines, nasal corticosteroids, and leukotriene inhibitors can all help manage the symptoms of dust mite allergies." Here's what you need to know about each type of medication:
- Antihistamines: These medications can help relieve sneezing, itching, and runny nose. They come in different forms, including pills, liquids, and nasal sprays.
- Nasal corticosteroids: These medications reduce inflammation in the nasal passages, which can help relieve congestion and other allergy symptoms. They are available as nasal sprays.
- Leukotriene inhibitors: These medications block the action of leukotrienes, which are chemicals that cause inflammation in the airways. They are available as pills.
If your dust mite allergy is severe and other treatments aren't working, your allergist may recommend immunotherapy. According to Dr. James Sublett, an allergist at Family Allergy & Asthma, "Immunotherapy involves exposing you to gradually increasing doses of the allergen to which you're allergic. Over time, this can help desensitize your immune system to the allergen, reducing your symptoms." Immunotherapy is available as allergy shots or sublingual tablets.
In conclusion, if you're dealing with a dust mite allergy, there are several things you can do to manage your symptoms. By reducing your exposure to dust mites, using medication, and considering immunotherapy, you can take control of your allergies and enjoy a better quality of life.