Managing Dust Mite Allergy Symptoms at Home
Dust mites are tiny, microscopic insects which live on our bodies and thrive on our dead skin cells. They are the most common cause of allergy from house dust and the most common cause of asthma in children.
We are most sensitive to the protein found in their waste, with the greatest deposits found in our bedding. When we toss and turn at night dust mites get into our mattresses, pillows, comforters and decorative pillows where they harbor, reproduce and produce waste. It has been said that there are up to 2 million dust mites in our pillows and up to 10 - 20 million dust mites in our mattress. A 20 year old pillow is known to weigh twice as much as a new pillow, due to all the dust mite waste accumulated over the years.
Luckily, there are steps we can take at home to manage dust mites:
1. Replace pillows every 1-2 years. Although washing and placing them in a hot dryer for 20 minutes will help to kill dust mites, it does not filter out the dust mite waste.
2. Vacuum your mattress to decrease the amount of mites and their waste product.
3. Use allergy covers on all pillows and mattresses to help act as a barrier between you and dust mite allergens.
4. Launder sheets every week in hot water or dry in a hot dryer.
5. Pillow encasings, mattress pads, blankets and bedspreads should be laundered every 2 weeks and the mattress encasing every 6 months.
6. Stay away from decorative pillows and comforters unless they can be laundered every 2 weeks as they collect and harbor dust mites.
7. Keep the humidity level at home between 40-45% to control dust mites as they thrive on humidity.
8. Vacuum your home frequently. Dust mites lurk in carpets and upholstered furniture. When we walk across the carpet or sit on the furniture, we stir up dust mites.
Implementing all of the above recommendations may help to reduce symptoms caused by dust mite exposure. Talk to your doctor to find out if allergy immunotherapy for dust mites is appropriate for you.