Overview of a Dust Allergy
An allergy to dust is caused by tiny bugs that live in house dust. A reaction to dust mites can be as common as a runny nose and sneezing. Dust mites thrive in warm and humid environments and can be found in carpet and bedding. They eat skin cells that people shed.
- About 20 million Americans have an allergy to dust mites. These people feel like they have a never-ending cold, or even asthma.
- Symptoms include: itchy eyes, runny nose, and sneezing.
- To feel better, you can be prescribed medication or change the environment of your house, as dust mites don’t like temperatures below 70 degrees and with low humidity.
- A dust mite allergy can trigger asthma or even cause an eczema flare-up. Typically, symptoms are worse after vacuuming, sweeping and dusting as they are easier to inhale.
Symptoms of a Dust Allergy
Symptoms of a dust allergy can range from mild to severe. When a dust mite allergy causes inflammation of the nasal passages, then symptoms can include an itchy nose, sneezing, runny nose, congestion, postnasal drip, itchy and watery eyes, and cough. If you also have asthma, you may experience more severe symptoms, such as chest pain, wheezing, trouble sleeping, and difficulty breathing.
Causes of a Dust Allergy
When you have an allergy to dust, your immune system produces antibodies that will protect you from the substance that is causing the allergy. When you are exposed to the dust allergen for a long period of time, then chronic inflammation may occur.
Risk Factors of a Dust Allergy
Typically an allergy to dust is seen in childhood or even young adults. Adults typically do not have an allergy to dust. If you have high exposure to dust mites then you will be at a higher risk for allergic reactions. You are also more likely to develop the allergen if there is a history of allergies in the family.
Complications of a Dust Allergy
People with an allergy to dust mites are at high risk for sinus infections and asthma. Sinus infections occur when chronic inflammation of the nasal passages occurs. If you have asthma, and are exposed to dust mites, then it may be more difficult to control your asthma symptoms too.
Prevention of Dust Allergy
There are numerous ways to prevent a dust allergy. Keeping your home clean and with the right temperatures will make all of the difference. The humidity in your home needs to be below 50 percent at all times. In places where there is above 50 percent humidity, then dust mites are thriving. You also need to keep your air conditioner at a cooler temperature, around 72 degrees. Removing dust from the home is also essential. Start by wiping down the dust from everything. Wash sheets, blankets and stuffed animals weekly. Remove carpet, if possible and if not, be sure to vacuum regularly too.
Diagnosis of a Dust Allergy
Your allergist may be able to diagnose you through a variety of questions about your symptoms and about your home. Sometimes there may be a test recommended. A skin allergy test will place purified allergen extracts on the skin and price the skin’s surface. If the prick on your skin becomes raised or red, then the allergy is positive. If you are not able to complete the skin test, then a blood test may be recommended. Through this test, the allergist can see what is happening with the antibodies and how they react to allergens.
Treatment of a Dust Allergy
The best treatment is to limit your exposure to dust. This means a deep cleaning of your home is necessary. Until your home is free of dust, there are a few medications that can be given. An antihistamine can reduce the symptoms that you are experiencing. A corticosteroid can aid in reducing inflammation in the nasal passages. Decongestants will aid in shrinking swollen tissues, which will make it easier to breathe.