Dust mites are a very small, microscopic organism that cannot be seen with the naked eye. They have a close genetical relationship with the arthropods, spiders and ticks. These small creatures roam in virtually every corner in the world except in Antarctica. They prefer to live in warm and humid conditions and are always found in the homes of humans that provide these conditions. The home of humans can have millions of dust mites present if not well taken care of.
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They usually stay under carpets, furniture and beds in the homes of humans. The primary source of food for these creatures is the human skin cell. One human can have millions of dust mites in their body. This is because we exfoliate skin cells that could feed millions of dust mites in a day. We may not know, but we and the pets we keep shed skin cells daily. These skin cells may fall off and hide in our rugs, carpets, and couches. That is why dust mites thrive in such places.
It is almost impossible to entirely get rid of dust mites in the house. Despite this, following some steps can help eradicate or decimate their population. First, let’s understand how these small creatures can cause allergies.
How Do Dust Mites Cause Allergies?
Dust mites can trigger allergies by two different means. First, through their waste products and second, their body parts.
Firstly, these small creatures produce wastes while eating skin cells. These wastes can cause allergies for some people. Secondly, when dust mites die, the remaining parts of their body stay on that particular spot. During their life cycle, these remains become the second allergen they produce.
Symptoms And Diagnosis
For those who are allergic to dust mites, it is to their advantage that they can easily manage these allergic responses. Dust mite allergy is very common and manageable. Symptoms of this allergy include runny nose, itchy eyes which become red, watery eyes, itchy throat, cough as well as stuffiness. Symptoms of asthmatic patients are easily triggered by dust mite allergies. It is usually difficult to separate the allergies caused by dust mites from other allergies because of the similarities. Dust mites are usually suspected to cause an allergy when that allergy persists throughout the year; although intermittently.
An allergist is a person who carries out tests on patients to ascertain the particular cause of the allergy. Examples of some of the tests are Skin Prick Test and Specified IgE blood test
Skin Prick Test (SPT): In this test, the allergist pierces the skin and introduces an allergen in small amounts. This will irritate that area of the skin.
Specific IgE blood test: In this test, the allergen is added to a blood sample, and the amount of antibodies formed in the sample is measured. It could be established that the person is allergic to the allergen if its level is very high in the sample.
Complications of dust mite allergy could occur if one is constantly exposed to the creatures or their body parts (when they die).
- Sinus Infection
Dust mites can cause chronic inflammation of the tissues in the nasal passages which can block your sinuses. This may even cause further infection in your sinuses.
For asthmatic patients, it is very difficult for them to manage their asthmatic symptoms. For them, there is a high risk of asthma attack which may require rapid medical attention and assistance.
Treatments For Dust Mite Allergy
Several treatments can be offered to people with dust mite allergy. Such treatments are
i. Decongestants – such as nasal sprays which may help ease an itchy or runny nose. These decongestants may help keep nasal passages dry and clear as well.
ii. Antihistamines – this help reduces allergic responses such as watery eyes.
Nasal Steroids – these help stop inflammation and open up nasal airways.
iii. Leukotriene Inhibitors – these inhibitors function in the blockage of an allergic-responsive pathway. People with asthma that are triggered by allergies mostly benefit from this inhibitor.
Immunotherapy is usually recommended if medications do not stop allergies. Immunotherapy functions are similar to vaccination. In the concept of immunology, a small amount of allergen is introduced in the body for some time. This will allow the body to become less allergic to certain substances. Treatment is given for a long time before the desired results are seen.
Immunotherapy could include:
i. Allergy shots – this usually is given many times in a month and may last for several years.
ii. Odactra – these form of treatment is a substitution for allergy shots and comes in forms of tablets. The tablet is placed under the tongue.
Home remedies can be used to treat allergies effectively. A person may decide to use home remedies instead before considering Immunotherapy. Some of these home remedies include:
Herbal mixtures which contain butter or spirulina.
Herbal teas containing honey (this calm help relieve itchy throats).
However, these treatments do not offer a cure for allergies. They only help to relieve or prevent the symptoms. Allergies are not curable.
Prevention Of Dust Mite Allergies
To prevent dust mite allergies, the creatures must be gotten rid of. One of the most effective means of preventing dust mite allergies is to limit exposure to dust mites. This is very difficult because dust mites are microscopic and difficult to contain. However, there are a few tips one could follow in a bid to prevent dust mite allergies.
i. Keep the humidity of your home at below 50% by using a humidifier or air conditioner.
ii. Your pillows, couches, mattresses should be airtight.
iii. Pillows with synthetic fibers are ideal for preventing dust mites.
iv. If possible do not use curtains. Instead, use blinds.
v. Wash your pets regularly.
vi. Occasionally wash your beddings in hot water and dry on high heat.
vii. Wash rugs in warm water and dry on high heat too.
viii. Always wear a mask when dusting furniture.
ix. If possible, do not use carpets in bedrooms.
x. Mop the floors often.
Regular cleaning of the house is the most effective means of removing dust mites. Although this may not completely remove all of them, it will surely get rid of a large number of the dust mites. Effective and regular cleaning of the house is the first and most important step in preventing dust mite allergies.