A house dust allergy or house dust mite allergy is what I call an allergic reaction to the faeces of house mites, which are mainly found in beds and mattresses. In the course of the allergy, typical allergic symptoms occur, such as watery eyes, coughing, itching and reddening of the skin.
What is a house dust allergy?
In the case of a house dust allergy or house dust mite allergy, the immune system of the affected person reacts particularly sensitively to the faeces and residues of the house dust mite. The arachnids, which are only about 0.1 to 0.5 mm in size, live in 150 species worldwide and can be found in almost every household. The animals feed on dead human skin and prefer to live in carpets, upholstered furniture, bed covers, pillows and mattresses.
While the house dust mite is normally completely harmless, in a person with a house dust mite allergy it causes a runny nose, allergic sneezing fits and itchy eyes, more rarely a sore throat, itchy ears, itchy nose, cough and allergic asthma. Furthermore, a house dust mite allergy can begin with a more or less harmless cold and over the years take on asthmatic features. Such a change in symptoms in a person with a house dust mite allergy is also called a change of floor in technical jargon.
The house dust mite allergy or house dust allergy is triggered by an allergic overreaction of the immune system. The house dust allergy is a type I allergy, the so-called immediate type. The allergen P1 antigen found in the faeces of the house dust mite is responsible for this. Since those who cause dust mite allergies feed on skin flakes, they prefer to live where these flakes accumulate.
These are, for example, pillows, blankets, mattresses, upholstered furniture and stuffed animals, but also places where the dust and thus the dander stays for a particularly long time, for example in the curtains, carpets or on decorative objects, which are not known as so-called dust collectors for nothing are.
Within the scope of investigations, it was found that after about two years, about a tenth of the content of a feather pillow consists of dead mites and their droppings. People with a house dust mite allergy should therefore take certain precautions to effectively reduce the effects of the house dust mite allergy.
↳ Further information: Anyone who suspects an allergy to mites should obtain further information on house dust mites and thus get to the bottom of the cause.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
The complaints and symptoms of a house dust allergy can be very different and also depend heavily on the severity of this allergy.
In general, however, they reduce the quality of life of those affected considerably and lead to various restrictions in the patient’s everyday life. First and foremost, those affected with a house dust allergy suffer from watery eyes and a strong cough.
The eyes often water constantly, whereby the tearing is often intensified by rubbing the eyes. Many patients also suffer from a cold and a permanently runny nose. Swelling can occur all over the body, which is aggravated by inhaling house dust. The skin itself is often affected by redness and can also itch.
Those affected often suffer from reduced aesthetics and thus reduced self-esteem or inferiority complexes. The house dust allergy can therefore lead to mental disorders or depression. In severe cases, this allergy can lead to shortness of breath, in which the affected person can lose consciousness or even die. However, this case only occurs very rarely, so that life expectancy is usually not negatively affected by this allergy.
A house dust allergy usually does not lead to major complications. Contact with the allergen sometimes leads to fits of coughing and sneezing, a runny nose and a sore throat or headache, but these quickly subside. However, if contact with the allergen persists over a longer period of time, an increased risk of developing asthma can develop.
In the further course, a house dust allergy can then go through a so-called floor change and lead to chronic asthma and the development of other allergies. Anaphylactic shock can also occur in babies, young children and patients with severe allergies. In the long term, a house dust allergy can also cause some secondary diseases.
Typical are sinus and larynx infections as well as hay fever. The treatment of a house dust allergy via hyposensitization is also associated with risks and complications. During the treatment, symptoms such as exhaustion, tiredness or headaches occur, which usually persist for some time and can intensify the original allergy for a short time.
In addition, allergic reactions such as wheals, shortness of breath or even cardiac arrhythmias can occur as a result of the vaccination. Rarely, allergic shock can also occur after hyposensitization.
When should you go to the doctor?
Sudden swelling of the mucous membranes, nasal speech or a stuffy nose should be evaluated and treated by a medical professional. The reduction in symptoms as soon as the local conditions change is particularly striking.
In case of watery eyes or red eyes or an itch, it is advisable to consult a doctor. If there is a change in breathing over several days or if it occurs repeatedly in apartments or other indoor areas, a doctor should be consulted.
If you plan to stay overnight, you should check the conditions before going to sleep so that you do not stop breathing during the night’s sleep. If shortness of breath sets in, special caution is required. Depending on the intensity, an ambulance must be called. Until the arrival of the rescue service, first aid measures must be taken and the ventilation of the person concerned must be ensured. If a rash develops, if there is a persistent cough or runny nose and sneezing attacks, a doctor’s visit is necessary.
Under certain conditions, some patients can experience a sharp increase in symptoms within minutes. You should go outside immediately. If an anaphylactic shock occurs, an ambulance must be called. The instructions of the employees must be followed until the doctors arrive, otherwise there is a risk of the person concerned dying.
Treatment & Therapy
Treating a house dust allergy is relatively difficult. Because containing the symptoms caused by house dust mite allergy primarily requires a reduction in allergenic substances. This is very difficult to achieve in practical use. Nevertheless, there are attempts to reduce the house dust mite allergy through a specific immunotherapy, which often only brings the desired success if it is carried out at an early stage.
With such hyposensitization, the overreaction of the immune system to an allergen is reduced. This happens when the allergy sufferer regularly consumes high doses of the allergen that causes the house dust mite allergy, so that the immune system is switched to come to terms with the substance that triggers the house dust mite allergy instead of overreacting. As a result, the burden of house dust mite allergy is reduced, although sensitization to the allergen in question is still present.
Outlook & Forecast
House dust allergy patients have a chronic disease that will last a lifetime. The symptoms of hypersensitivity can be easily treated with the current medical options, so that the allergy can be dealt with well in the daily routine.
The methods of desensitization or hyposensitization show good results and alleviate the patient’s symptoms to a considerable extent. An additional change in the everyday conditions in the living and sleeping quarters of the affected person can reduce the symptoms to a minimum.
This optimizes the quality of life despite the disease. The life span is not normally shortened with the allergy. As soon as sufficient precautionary measures are taken and there is no anaphylactic shock, the patient has a good chance of leading a comfortable life with the house dust mite allergy.
If the restructuring measures and medical treatment are not used, the symptoms can increase. In addition, the patient is threatened with a life-threatening condition. As an alternative to seeking medical treatment, the patient can take advantage of various naturopathic therapies to alleviate the symptoms. They also reduce symptoms and improve health. Here, too, the everyday environmental conditions should be optimized so that the general burden of mite excrement is reduced.
A house dust allergy can be alleviated by various preventive measures. For example, when vacuuming, care should be taken not to stir up too much dust.
Devices with a HEPA filter and special central vacuum cleaning systems are particularly suitable for people with a house dust mite allergy. Furthermore, the humidity should be kept as low as possible through regular airing, since the mites that trigger house dust mite allergies feel most comfortable in a humid and warm climate.
In addition, the curtains and other dust collectors should be removed. This also applies to the stuffed animals in the beds of children at risk of allergies. Carpet floors should be replaced with wood, cork or plastic floors and feather bed linen should be exchanged for special bed linen for people with allergies. Dusting is to be avoided and instead it is better to wipe with a damp cloth, whereby the water can possibly also be enriched with an antifungal agent, since the mites that trigger the house dust allergy depend on the presence of certain fungi.
The extent to which follow-up care is necessary depends heavily on the severity of the house dust allergy. Symptoms usually last a lifetime. Above all, it helps to reduce the number of mites. Those affected bear a great deal of personal responsibility for this. Suitable measures relate primarily to the bedroom. The bed linen is to be changed regularly.
Dust collectors such as curtains and carpets must be removed. We recommend wiping with a damp cloth at short intervals. If there are pets, they must not enter the sleeping area under any circumstances. In order to stop the recurrence of the house dust allergy, hypersensitization is often carried out. Patients receive doses of the allergen over a period of several years.
This should get you used to it. For many sufferers, this leads to relief. In addition, there are a number of medications that only have a short-term effect. To avoid symptoms, those affected should take them acutely. They should be taken with you when you travel. Coughs and runny noses can be alleviated with sprays and solutions.
Prescription ointments and over-the-counter creams are suitable for reducing skin reactions. People with a severe form of the disease should regularly see a specialist who will document the progression of the disease.
You can do that yourself
People with a house dust allergy can take various measures to relieve the symptoms.
A damp, cold washcloth that is placed on the affected eye for about five minutes helps with reddened and itchy eyes. If you have a cough, a short walk in the fresh air is recommended. The bedrooms should then be aired and vacuumed. Because house dust mites reproduce primarily in damp areas, care should be taken to ensure a relatively dry room climate that is not too warm.
Dust traps in the apartment should be avoided. This includes books as well as large curtains and deep-pile carpets. Ideally, such objects are sprayed with a product from a specialist dealer and cleaned regularly. The mattress is best covered with a suitable cover. The bed linen should be washed regularly at high temperatures (60 to 95°C) and also provided with mite-proof covers.
Dietary measures also help. Allergy sufferers should eat as much vitamins and minerals as possible and also drink a lot and regularly. If these measures have no effect, you should go to the doctor with the house dust allergy. In most cases, the condition can be counteracted by hyposensitization.