Dust Mite Allergy

What is dust mite allergy?

A dust mite allergy refers to an allergic reaction to dust-mite wastes. The waste of dust mites and our bodies can trigger allergic reactions. While dust mites generally die when either the temperature is too high or humidity is low, they will always leave their wastes behind, which can cause this type of allergic reaction.

Nearly 80% of homes in Singapore have dust mite allergens in at least one bed.

What causes dust mite allergy?

When you have allergies, your immune system produces antibodies that falsely recognize your particular allergen –such as dust mites– as something harmful even though it is not.

When you come into contact with that particular allergen, your immune system triggers an inflammatory response in your lungs or nasal passages. Prolonged or persisting exposure to the allergen can result in chronic or ongoing inflammation associated with asthma.

What is the difference between dust mite allergy and COVID-19/flu symptoms?

Even though there are a few similarities between a dust mite allergy and the common flu, you can easily differentiate between the two.

If you find yourself in a dusty environment and you immediately begin to experience any of the following symptoms, chances are you are having an allergy reaction:

  • Sneezing
  • Red, swollen, itchy, or teary eyes
  • Post Nasal drip
  • Facial pressure
  • A persistent cough
  • Runny nose

If you are asthmatic, you might experience additional symptoms, including:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest tightness
  • Wheezing

Conversely, flu symptoms are slightly different and generally involve the following:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Shortness of breath
  • A loss of smell and/or taste
  • Diarrhoea
  • Nausea
  • Body aches

A notable difference, however, is that wherein flu symptoms will remain throughout your illness, dust mite allergy symptoms will appear and disappear based on your exposure.

Who is at risk of suffering from a dust mite allergy?

There are a few factors that can exacerbate your risk of suffering a dust mite allergy, including:

  • Exposure to dust mites: Research tends to show that being exposed to high levels of dust mites, particularly early in life, can increase your risk of experiencing this condition.
  • Having a family history of allergy: You are more likely to have a dust mite allergy if your immediate family members suffer from allergies.
  • Being either a kid or a young adult: Studies have also shown that you are increasingly likely to develop dust mite allergy in your childhood or early adulthood.

How are dust mite allergies treated in Singapore?

Just like any other type of allergy, dust mite allergy treatment is usually centered around symptom management.

Depending on the severity and your symptoms and your needs, your doctor might recommend a combination of treatments:

TreatmentHow it worksSide effects
DecongestantsDecongestants work by relieving the nasal and sinus congestion that is often associated with allergies.
However, this type of treatment is not ideal for everyone.
If you suffer from high blood pressure, heart disease, hyperthyroidism, or even glaucoma, then you should not consider this particular treatment.
Insomnia, irritability, headaches
CorticosteroidsCorticosteroids work by minimizing inflammation triggered by allergies.Nosebleeds, sore throats, nasal irritation, itchiness, redness, and oral yeast infections.
Prolonged use of corticosteroids can result in muscle weakness, high blood pressure, stomach ulcers, cataracts, glaucoma, osteoporosis, abnormal hormonal levels and skin discoloration.
AntihistaminesAntihistamines refer to the chemicals that your immune system produces while responding to an allergen.
These medications work by inhibiting the production of histamine, helping alleviate allergy symptoms such as itchy eyes, runny nose, swelling, and hives.
Drowsiness.
Leukotriene inhibitorsLeukotriene inhibitors work to block the release of leukotrienes, chemicals that your body releases that cause allergy symptoms.
Leukotriene inhibitors will alleviate allergy symptoms such as nasal congestion, sneezing and runny nose.
Anxiety and lack of sleep.

FAQS

There is no cure for dust mite allergy, and the same applies to other types of allergies as well. However, it’s important to note that the above treatment options are highly effective at treating your dust mite allergies. The ultimate way to cure your allergies is to reduce your exposure to your allergens.

Yes, allergy immunotherapy is a viable treatment option for people suffering from dust mite allergies. Allergy immunotherapy treatment is tailored toward training your system to not react to your potential allergy triggers. Allergy immunotherapy is ideal for pollen, grass as well as dust mite allergies.

With this type of allergy treatment, a small dosage of allergens is safely administered into your body. The dosage is gradually increased and over time, you will ultimately become less and less sensitive to the allergen. This type of treatment is medically referred to as sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT).

Allergy immunotherapy has proven highly successful in reducing inflammation associated with either allergic rhinitis or asthma. Sublingual immunotherapy will effectively eliminate allergy symptoms such as eye irritation, runny nose, and congestion. Allergy immunotherapy is the most effective treatment for allergies, as it focuses on tackling the root cause of your allergies.

Reducing your exposure to dust mites is the best way to ensure you do not experience dust mite allergy symptoms. Although it’s technically impossible to entirely eliminate dust mites in your home, there are a few things you can do to minimise them:

  • Regularly vacuum your home.
  • Keep stuffed toys from your bed.
  • Don’t use bed sheets that can easily accumulate dust.
  • Use bed covers that are allergen-proof.
  • Wash your bedsheets at least every week and hang them to dry for at least fifteen minutes.
  • If possible, do not have potential dust mite habitats such as carpeting in your home.
  • Make sure the humidity in your home is always below 50%.

The symptoms caused by dust mite allergies generally last between three and seven days, but your nasal congestion might persist for more than one week.

If you suffer from a dust mite allergy, your exposure to the mites as well as their debris can result in health complications, such as asthma and sinus infection.

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