House Dust Mite Allergy Symptoms
Those of you reading this blog may have recently suspected that you are suffering from the symptoms of house dust mite (HDM) sensitivity, you are probably trawling the net for education right now. This blog does not purport to answer all your question but acts as repository for quality information on this topic that we have researched for you, online and in the medical literature. We have specifically focused on the symptoms of dust mite allergy in this blog entry.
Allergy symptoms occur when your immune system overreacts to an allergen—something that usually is harmless, such as plant pollen, dust mites, molds, insect stings or food. If you have an allergy, your immune system acts as if the allergen were dangerous, releasing a chemical called histamine that causes allergy symptoms.
Dust mites eat skin cells people have shed, and rather than drinking water, they absorb water from humidity in the atmosphere. They thrive in temperatures between 65 and 84 F (18.5 and 29 C) and a relative humidity higher than 50 percent. House dust is easily trapped in the fibers of bed linens, furniture cushions and carpeting. These materials also hold moisture well. Consequently, bedrooms are ideal habitats for dust mites. Dust also contains the feces and decaying bodies of dust mites, and it’s the proteins present in this dust mite “debris” that are the culprit in dust mite allergy.
When it comes to the common house dust mite (HDM), the World Health Organization takes a clear view that a direct link exists between dust mite presence and the risk factor of developing asthma. “Sensitization to the house dust mite (Dermataphagoides pteronyssinus) is the most common risk factor associated with the development of asthma in adults and children.”The World Health Organization goes on to say that “a number of observations of naturally low allergen environments have supported avoidance (of house dust mites) as an effective intervention.” Simply put, an allergic reaction to the house dust mite should involve removal of the mites as one intervention to reduce allergic symptoms (see SleepAngel Filter bedding).
Moving on specifically to the question of identifying the “symptoms” of dust mite allergy. The finding of the Mayo Clinic Staff report that dust mite allergy symptoms caused by inflammation of nasal passages include:
- Runny nose
- Itchy, red or watery eyes
- Nasal congestion
- Itchy nose, roof of mouth or throat
- Postnasal drip
- Facial pressure and pain
- Swollen, blue-colored skin under your eyes
- In a child, frequent upward rubbing of the nose
If your dust mite allergy contributes to asthma, you may also experience:
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest tightness or pain
- An audible whistling or wheezing sound when exhaling
- Trouble sleeping caused by shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing
- Bouts of coughing or wheezing that are worsened by a respiratory virus such as a cold or the flu
A dust mite allergy can range from mild to severe. A mild case of dust mite allergy may cause an occasional runny nose, watery eyes and sneezing. In severe cases, the condition may be ongoing (chronic), resulting in persistent sneezing, cough, congestion, facial pressure or severe asthma attack.
Identifying the cause of your symptoms
The American College of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology reports that to pinpoint the cause of your symptoms, an allergist will ask detailed questions about your work and home environments, family medical history, frequency and severity of symptoms, exposure to pets and a variety of other questions. Sometimes the history will reveal obvious triggers, like someone who develops symptoms every time they are around a certain animal. More often though, the history may suggest triggers, but it may not be obvious in identifying the exact ones.
Sometimes the medical history may not suggest any triggers, yet allergy may be the cause. In this case, your allergist finds out what you are allergic to by doing skin tests. Skin tests involve either pricking the skin (prick tests) or injecting into the skin (intradermal tests) with different allergens and observing for a reaction. A positive reaction (a raised welt with redness around it) may indicate that you are allergic to that allergen. Occasionally, your allergist may order a blood test in addition to the skin test to confirm the diagnosis of allergy. The blood tests are generally less sensitive than skin testing.
If the allergen is something you breathe in from the air (such as dust based house dust mites), your reaction will most likely affect your eyes, nose and lungs.
The symptoms of an allergic reaction can vary, depending on which substance (allergen) you are allergic to. In Summary – Here are the Top 3 symptoms of dust mite allergy (source: NHS UK). If you are allergic to substances in the air – such as pollen, animal dander and dust mites – the symptoms usually include:
- rhinitis – sneezing and a blocked, itchy or runny nose
- conjunctivitis – itchy, red, streaming eyes
- asthma – wheezing, breathlessness and a cough
The science of dealing with your allergy symptoms will be dealt with in separate blogs. Please comment and question back. We look forward to your opinions.
(1) National Health Service (NHS UK), http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Allergies/Pages/Symptoms.aspx
(2) Science Daily, http://www.sciencedaily.com/articles/h/house_dust_mite.htm
(4) Housedustmite.com, http://housedustmite.com/for-parents-patients/avoidance-and-the-indoor-environment/
(5) American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology