Nasal allergies and asthma are similar conditions in different parts of the
- As many as 78% of asthma patients have nasal symptoms.
- As many as 38% of nasal allergy patients have asthma.
- Treating the allergic inflammation in the nose may help prevent asthma
or reduce asthma severity and lower airway hyper-responsiveness.
Has allergy testing revealed that you react to dust mites? If so, take heart
-- here are some action steps you can take to control dust mites!
- Encase your pillow and mattress with dust mite-proof covers.
- Wash linens in hot water every week.
- Maintain a dry environment in your bedroom with a dehumidifier. Keep the
dehumidifier tray clean and dry.
- Consider removing carpet.
- Keep rooms clutter-free. Keep stuffed toys off the beds. Close closet doors.
- Use carpet treatment on existing carpets to kill mites.
Focus on your bedroom...
If you're allergic to dust mites -- and millions of people are -- you must
take steps to minimize them in your home. Believe it or not, there can be as
many as 30,000 of these tiny creatures in one ounce of dust! Dust mites are
found all over the home, but the biggest problem is your bed. Dust mites are
attracted to your bed because they live off the skin cells that we all shed
Here's the problem: As you sleep, your skin sloughs off and works its way
down into your bedding. If the air in your room is humid, dust mites get into
your bed and pillow and happily grow into large colonies. Furthermore, your
own body creates humidity as you breathe and perspire. Trying to kill the dust
mites will only have a limited effect, because the dust mite feces that cause
the problems will still exist in high concentrations.
Dust mite covers
Your first step is to encase your pillow and mattress with dust mite covers.
Studies have shown that these covers are very effective at reducing dust mite
allergens. This step has two main goals: to keep the existing dust mites trapped
inside the barrier, so you won't be exposed to them, and to prevent new dust
mites from getting into your pillow and mattress.
The material of your pillow can affect your allergies. For a long time, people
with allergies and asthma have been encouraged to avoid feather pillows because
they were thought to aggravate allergies more than the synthetic alternatives,
which are often referred to as "hypoallergenic" pillows. However, some studies
have shown that more dust mite allergen can be found in synthetic pillows than
in feather pillows. Research reported at the 56th Annual Meeting of the American
Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI) shows that synthetic pillows
may contain more pet allergens than feather pillows. Regardless of its material,
if your pillow is washable, wash it regularly. (Read the pillow manufacturer's
directions for cleaning.) Or, as an alternative, fluff it occasionally in the
dryer to remove dust mites, but make sure the dryer is on the hottest setting.
Wash bedding regularly
Don't forget that you continue to shed skin cells that accumulate on top of
the dust mite-proof covers. To tackle this problem, make sure to wash the dust
mite-proof covers with your linens in hot water (130 - 140° F). Buy dust
mite-proof covers and linens that can withstand frequent trips to the washing
machine. A small amount of bleach added to the washing machine will also help
destroy the dust mite allergen on bedding, but it will also take the color
out of the fabric. (Consider buying all white linens.) Since bleach can irritate
the airways, have someone without asthma or allergies do the laundry.
If you really want to get rid of those dust mites, get a stand-alone, single-room
dehumidifier. Central dehumidifiers are also available, but cost more. Dust
mites hate dry air. Maintain a relative humidity of 35 - 50%. Make sure to
empty the dehumidifier tray frequently and keep it clean. If the tray isn't
clean, mold growth will appear that could cause you more problems, like mold
allergy. Be aware that if the humidity is too low (20 - 25%), it can irritate
the sinuses and respiratory system.
Next, consider removing wall-to-wall carpeting from bedrooms and other frequently
used spaces. Carpets trap dust, dust mites, skin, pet dander, mold, spores,
pollen, and chemicals that can trigger allergies or asthma-like symptoms. Small,
synthetic area rugs are easy to keep clean. Since removing your wall-to-wall
carpet is an ambitious step, balance the cost and hassle with how miserable
your allergies or asthma are making you. If you decide to keep your carpet,
keep it clean! Standard upright vacuums tend to stir dust and allergens, making
them airborne. A better option is a vacuum with a HEPA filter or a central
Some experts believe that treating your carpet with dust mite pesticide powder
can be effective. Others claim that carpet treatment powder can irritate airways
of people with asthma and allergies. Dr. Scott Carroll, President of Atlanta
Allergy & Asthma Clinic, says, "Mite treatment of carpet [with Acarosan]
needs to be done every two months to be effective, and it can be expensive.
This is really necessary only if kids [with dust mite allergy] are playing
on the carpet."
Make it hard for dust mites to
find a home...
Finally, keep your home free of clutter and dust. Wipe surfaces weekly with
a damp rag. Vacuum the dust off the floor, and vacuum upholstered furniture.
(If you live with someone who isn't allergic to dust mites, have them do the
vacuuming and cleaning!)
Keep stuffed toys off the beds, or wash them weekly. Consider replacing Venetian
blinds or heavy cloth draperies with pull-down shades that don't collect as
much dust and are easier to clean. Keep closets clean with the doors closed.
Consider using the following products:
- Allergen-impermeable bedding
- Washable pillows
- Stand-alone dehumidifiers or central dehumidifiers
- HEPA stand-alone air cleaners or central air filtration system
- HEPA-filter vacuum cleaner or central vacuum cleaning system
- Carpet treatment (Acarosan)
- Washable toys
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI). The Allergy
Report: Science Based Findings on the Diagnosis & Treatment of Allergic
Disorders, 1996-2001. Milwaukee, Wis: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology
(AAAAI); 2001. (2007 updated version available online at www theallergyreport.com.)
Review Date: 5/16/2007
Reviewed By: Alan Greene, M.D., F.A.A.P., Department of Pediatrics, Packard Children's Hospital, Stanford University School of Medicine; Chief Medical Officer, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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