The Facts About Dust Allergies
If you suffer from dust allergies, you know that they are certainly nothing to sneeze at. In fact, dust mites, which are one of a variety of substances contained in household dust, are one of the most common indoor allergens. They lurk in most people's homes, no matter how often you clean. But while you can't completely eliminate household dust and its contents from your surroundings, there are some things you can do to help keep them to a minimum in order to help lessen—or even prevent—your allergic reaction.
What is Dust?
Have you ever stopped to wonder what household dust is made from? It varies from house to house but usually contains some common elements, including dust mites, which are actually a very tiny type of bug—so small, in fact, that you can't even see it with the naked eye. Dust mites are also often one of the major causes of household allergy problems.
While not everyone is allergic to dust mites, or even knows they exist, approximately 10 percent of the American population has some type of sensitivity to their presence, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Some of the symptoms they cause include sneezing, itching in your eyes, nose and throat and nasal congestion. In some people, they can also cause allergic asthma.
If you clean your home often and therefore assume that such dust can't be the source of your allergy problems, think again. The experts say that everyday dusting and vacuuming may reduce some of the surface dust, but these techniques are often not enough to remove those hidden dust mites that are buried deep in your bedding, pillows and rugs. It is also interesting to note that the very act of cleaning can sometimes stir the dust mites and other particles into the air, making your dust allergies even worse. So it is important to tackle your household chores with great care.
What You Can Do
The best thing you can do to minimize or prevent your dust allergies is to try to avoid all dust. While this sounds easy enough, putting the plan into action can take some work. The experts say that it is often a good idea to start by taking some preventative measures in your home and particularly in the bedroom, where most people spend a great deal of their time and is also often where the most dust mites live.
Some time-intensive, but also effective, ways to take help control dust include:
- Protecting your mattress and pillows with special allergy-free covers that can seal dust mites in.
- Washing your sheets and blankets in very hot water on a weekly basis.
- Removing carpeting and trading in curtains or drapes for blinds, to eliminate places where dust mites often live.
- Running an air conditioner during the summer months to reduce humidity in your home. Using a dehumidifier can also help in some cases.
- Removing stuffed animals, throw pillows, books and other items that can attract dust and dust mites.
- Having someone else vacuum and dust your home frequently. Or, if you must do it yourself, wearing a face mask to avoid breathing in the dust particles you displace in the process.
Other Ways to Control Dust Allergies
If these measures aren't enough to help prevent your symptoms of dust allergies, you may also want to talk to your doctor or allergist about taking allergy control medication and if necessary, getting allergy shots to help build up your tolerance so your immune system won't be as likely to react to dust mites and other dust allergens.
The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI)
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) http://www.aaaai.org/patients/publicedmat/tips/indoorallergens.stm
The Environmental Protection Agency
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