What are dust allergies?

Pamela Egan Practical Practitioner


By: Pamela Egan, FNP-C CDE



What are dust allergies?



Dear Pam,

My daughter was just diagnosed as having a dust allergy. Where do I start?

When you have an allergy, the tiniest things can be quite irritating. Dust can loiter everywhere in your home on linens, mattresses, carpets, curtains, in closets, ready to make your life miserable.

Your dust is more than just dust.

This microscopic dust mite thrives in dust, especially in warm, humid environments. If you have dust allergies, your main mission is to eliminate this little pest.

Allergy symptoms are responsible for more visits to the doctor’s office than any other single disease in this country. More than 40 million Americans (about one in five) suffer from one or more of the allergic diseases. Allergies are considered a leading cause of school absenteeism, too.

The key to reducing symptoms is the careful cleaning of all rooms where you spend most of your time. Since we all spend about a third of our lives in the bedroom, that’s the place to start.

Here are some simple steps you could take to eliminate dust allergies:

  • Since mites can grow abundantly in the dust in your bed, the single most important thing you can do is to enclose mattresses, box-springs and pillows in vinyl or synthetic coverings.
  • Change bed linens every week and pillow cases every day.

  • Use washable blankets and bedspread. Wash bedding in hot water to kill the dust mite.
  • Eliminate upholstered furniture, carpeting, wall hangings, drapes, and other dust collectors from the room.
  • Don’t let items you rarely use gather dust in the closet. Don’t store items under the bed either.
  • Dust collects in the nooks and crannies of textured wall and floor coverings. If possible, use hardwood, vinyl or tile floors, and painted, paneled, or wallpapered walls.

  • Wet mop and vacuum frequently.

  • No stuffed toys. Toys should be made of plastic, wood or metal.
  • Use air filtration devices to purify the air.
  • Maintain clean, adequate filters for home heating and air conditioning systems to avoid spreading allergens throughout the house.
  • Since the mite loves humidity, keep it as low as possible- 35 percent to 50 percent to retard its proliferation.
  • Use chemical agents for testing for and eliminating dust mites.

If you believe you might have a dust allergy, notify your healthcare provider for appropriate tests and an effective treatment plan. Living with allergies can be made a lot easier.

This article was originally published May 24, 2004 in The St. Tammany News.


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