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Dust Mite Allergies: What You Need to Know

Dust Mite Allergies: What You Need to Know
If you are allergic to dust mites, it can be very difficult to avoid exposure, no matter how clean your house may be. In fact, your symptoms may worsen while you clean or immediately thereafter, as dust mites become unsettled and float in the air where they can be easily inhaled. They are also a leading cause of asthma in children and adults.
What are Dust Mites?
Dust mites are tiny, microscopic living organisms that live in your home. While it sounds disgusting, they feed on organic materials, including flakes of human skin. Mites can flourish in your home, especially if the indoor air is humid and the temperature is kept at or above 70 degrees. Dust mites will die if the humidity level goes below 40 percent. Because of this, they are not as common in drier climates.
The waste that dust mites produce is extremely tiny. The particles are made and often settle in your:
•   Carpeting
•   Upholstered furniture
•   Mattresses
•   Pillows
Having these mites in your home does not mean that your home is dirty. Normal cleaning doesn’t readily remove the mites and their waste. Vigorously cleaning your home can actually make allergy symptoms flare.
Three Steps To Relieve & Fix Allergies
Steps You Can Take
If you or a family member suffers from a dust mite allergy, there are steps you can take to lessen your exposure:
•   Replace wall-to-wall carpeting with smooth, cleanable flooring, especially in bedrooms
•   Encase your mattresses and pillows in mite-proof cases
•   Wash bed linens in hot water regularly
•   Wear a N95 filter mask when vacuuming, dusting or sweeping
•   Run a dehumidifier if the humidity in your home is normally above 50 percent
Dust mite allergy can often be treated with over the counter (OTC) nasal steroid sprays with the addition of OTC antihistamines as needed. Sometimes these remedies may not be the best way to achieve long-term relief from your allergy symptoms. View our Allergy Assessment tool to determine if you should seek medical help from an allergist at Dakota Allergy & Asthma.

Topics: Allergies

Mark Bubak, M.D.

About the Author: Mark Bubak, M.D.

Dr. Bubak is certified by the American Board of Allergy and Immunology to care for adults and children with asthma and allergies. He has been active in allergy research and education with special emphasis on new allergy testing and treatment methods. A South Dakota native, his medical degree is from the University of South Dakota School of Medicine, with Allergy and Internal Medicine fellowships at the Mayo Clinic.


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