Dust Mite Allergy
Dust mites are one of the leading triggers for both asthma and allergies.
According to Mayo Clinic, “Dust mite allergy is an allergic reaction to tiny bugs that commonly live in house dust. Signs of dust mite allergy include sneezing and runny nose. Many people with dust mite allergy also experience signs of asthma, such as wheezing and difficulty breathing.”
While it’s easy to pinpoint a seasonal allergen such as pollen, it is more difficult to identify a dust mite allergy, since everyone is routinely exposed to a certain degree of dust mites. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America explains how to identify a dust mite allergy: “Any time you have an asthma (or allergy) episode, think about where you were and what you were doing. Answer questions like: Was I making a bed or vacuuming?” If so, dust mites may well be causing it, because they are regularly found in pillows, mattresses, carpets, and upholstered furniture.
Talking to a doctor is an essential step in identifying a dust mite allergy. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation states, “If you are allergic to dust mites, you should put an airtight cover around your pillow and mattress.”
Mayo Clinic adds, “If you suspect that you may have a dust mite allergy, take steps to reduce house dust, particularly in your bedroom. Keep your bedroom clean, remove dust-collecting clutter and wash bedding in hot water that is at least 130 F (54.4 C).” Mayo Clinic also recommends choosing a high-efficiency air filter to remove dust from the air: “Look for a filter with a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) of 11 or 12 and leave the fan on to create a whole house air filter. Be sure to change the filter every three months.” Changing air filters regularly removes up to 95% of dust mites from indoor air.
Here are some other ways to reduce dust mites:
• Keep indoor humidity below 50%. A hygrometer (available at hardware stores) can measure humidity level. Use a dehumidifier if needed. • Vacuum regularly. Although vacuuming carpet and upholstered furniture can remove surface dust, it’s necessary to use a vacuum cleaner with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter to remove dust mites.
• Dust thoroughly. Use a damp or oiled mop or rag to clean up dust from surface areas. This keeps dust from becoming airborne.
• Install a high efficiency air filter in your heating/air conditioning system to filter particulates out of the air.
• Remove dust mite-prone household items. Carpet is notorious for harboring dust mites. If possible, replace carpet with tile, wood, or vinyl flooring, and get rid of upholstered furniture and non-washable curtains.