Dust mite allergy - explained
If you often wake up in the morning with a headache, sore throat, and itchy, watery eyes, it may be that you have a dust mite allergy.
Dust mites are tiny, primitive creatures that feed on dead skin particles. They are so small that they can’t be seen with the naked eye.
Dust mite allergy is not a reaction to the mites themselves, but to their waste. A single dust mite produces as much as 200 times its body weight in faeces and shed skin. This can build up in bedding and cause particular problems overnight; often affecting your quality of sleep.
Sneezing, skin reactions and – in more severe cases – shortness of breath are also typical house dust allergy symptoms. House dust allergy sufferers are more frequently affected by asthma than people with other allergies – and it is a common cause of allergy in children.
Where dust mites live
Dust mites can be found all over the home – most particularly on bedding, carpets, furniture and stuffed toys, which means bedrooms are a hot spot.
Dust mites thrive in warm, humid temperatures. They multiply over the summer, and the level of mite droppings are highest as they die off at the start of the heating season.
The diagnosis of a house dust allergy, rather than other allergies with similar symptoms, is usually based on a detailed medical history and a subsequent allergy test.
How to cope
It is difficult to completely rid your house of dust mites, but there are a number of things you can do to minimise their presence, such as getting rid of carpets, keeping the temperature and humidity in your room as low as possible, and using High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters, which capture dust mites and their waste and prevent you from inhaling them.