Every year millions of Americans develop asthma. A contributor to asthma is dust mite allergy.
Asthma is a scary and possibly life-threatening condition to have yet at the same time it’s not all doom and gloom. Most people with dust mite allergy and asthma can live normal lives and many children with asthma outgrow the condition.
If you have asthma you should be aware of potential triggers. While you might be able to ignore the first asthma symptoms, a full-blown asthma attack can be a big surprise so it’s important to visit a doctor to learn how to cope with asthma through knowledge, avoidance, and using an inhaler.
There are different types of asthma but in this article, I’ll focus on allergic asthma and dust mite allergy. Dust mite allergy is one of the most common allergies yet most people don’t realize they have it.
Before we dive into ways to manage dust mite allergy and asthma let’s take a closer look at dust mites.
Dust Mites In Brief
Dust mites are a pesky creature and part of the arachnid family (spidery mites). While they are invisible to the human eye you can see them if you use a microscope.
Dust mites don’t bite and are harmless to most people. They go about their lives eating shed human skin and pet dander. They’re the invisible recyclers of our waste!
It’s not only dust mites that are alive which cause allergies. The allergic protein is found in dead dust mites and dust mite fecal matter. Even if you’ve killed all the dust mites their skeletons can still cause allergic symptoms.
How Many People Have Dust Mite Allergy and Asthma
Sometimes people with allergies will feel like they’re all alone. The symptoms can be annoying or debilitating depending on the severity of symptoms.
Don’t worry you’re not alone. Millions of people in the U.S. have allergies and many more experience asthma. According to the American College of Allergy and Immunology, more than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies making it the 6th largest contributor to chronic illness.
Some people are allergic to pollen or bee stings, while others are allergic to certain foods. People with dust mite allergy usually experience other environmental allergies as well (I have many environmental allergies but no food allergies).
Asthma affects more than 24 million Americans and a large percentage of people with asthma are children. When allergic asthma is triggered it creates swelling and mucus production in the airways that make breathing difficult.
Why Dust Mites Are Problematic For People With Asthma
Dust mites can be a more difficult allergy to deal with than pollen, pet, or food allergies. Why?
The reason is that dust mites live in our homes. This means they are constantly around us.
Our carpets, couches, and beds make the perfect homes for dust mites and it’s our bedrooms where they cause us the most trouble.
Any movement of air within a room can cause live and dead dust mites as well as their feces to become suspended in the air. Falling on the bed can stir up dust, fluffing a pillow, and turning on a fan can cause dust to enter the air where we inhale the allergens.
And because many people don’t realize they have asthma they live may live with wheezing for a long time before getting help.
Decreasing Dust Mite Allergy and Asthma (Reduce Exposure)
Understanding that dust mites live in our home is the first step to improving allergic asthma. The good news is there are things you can do to vastly improve your health.
After I was diagnosed with dust mite allergies I made some of the simple changes below and focused on my bedroom. I’ll share in detail what helped me.
#1 If Possible Remove Carpets and Fabric Furniture
Carpets and fabric furniture are traps for dust. This is one reason dust mites love fabrics because they can burrow deep inside to stay warm and come out to feed.
People with asthma should consider switching to leather or synthetic furniture which dust mites don’t like. Hard flooring will result in much less dust compared to carpets – this could mean a big reduction in your asthma.
#2 Cover Your Bed!
Dust mites live, breed, and die by the millions in your bed. They prefer mattresses and pillows because it’s a warm hiding place and provides enough moisture (body moisture from sleeping).
A two-year-old pillow can be made up of 10-15% dust mites (in weight) so make sure you wash the pillow frequently or upgrade pillows after every few years. I wrote about the best allergy bed covers here.
#3 Clean Regularly (Swiffer)
Cleaning is easy if you have hard flooring. A Swiffer can be pushed around the house once or twice a week to clean up dust on the surface.
I do this every few days and I feel like I can breathe easier.
#3 Wash Clothes, Blankets, and Sheets With Essential Oils
Dust mites can be challenging to kill. They have to be washed with extremely hot water or you can simply add a few drops of essential oil to the water in your wash.
Essential oils are relatively inexpensive and are 100% natural so I prefer using them. Check out my article about washing with essential oils here.
#4 Increase Ventilation and/or Dehumidify
Dust mites can survive in most environments but they thrive in humidity. Opening blinds and windows can allow fresh air from outside to dry out a house but this may not be possible in humid areas of the country.
Using a dehumidifier can help remove moisture from the air and make your house feel more comfortable. Dehumidifiers also discourage the growth of another allergen, mold!
#5 Employ Filters (HVAC and Air Purifiers)
HVAC filters might be the best action you can take to clean the air in your home. We can’t see most of the dust in our air but it’s there!
High-quality filters will remove the smallest allergens like dust mites, pet dander, and pollen (high MERV rating) and air purifiers can help in the bedroom to continually filter air (make sure the air purifier uses a HEPA filter).
Dust mite allergy and asthma isn’t a comfortable condition to have. What makes being allergic to dust mites worse is that they exist everywhere in our homes.
Dust mites prefer humid regions of the U.S. so there are likely to be less at elevation on in the arid West it doesn’t take much to trigger allergies and asthma.
Sitting on the couch, walking down a hallway and turning on a fan can cause dust mites to become airborne. Once in the air they can remain suspended all day.
Taking precautions in your home can help reduce your asthma symptoms. After I was diagnosed with dust mite allergy I made a number of changes to my living environment.
The actions I mentioned might be easy to overlook however they can make a big difference – especially if there’s a focus on the bedroom. My symptoms have decreased and I’m sure yours can too.
Thanks for reading another dust mite allergy article on asthma. Hopefully, you find relief just like I have.