It is estimated that between six and twelve percent of Germans suffer from a house dust allergy (House dust mite allergy). The symptoms are similar to those of other allergies : they range from itching and sneezing to shortness of breath and asthma . But what to do with a house dust allergy? With a few tips, such as changing the bedding regularly and using a special vacuum cleaner, the symptoms can often be alleviated. Otherwise, medication and hyposensitization should be considered.
House dust allergy: mites as the cause
With a house dust allergy, the allergic reaction is not – as the name suggests – against house dust, but against mite droppings. The name house dust mite allergy can also be attributed to this. Mites are small arachnids that can be found in every home. One gram of house dust contains up to 4,000 mites. Your presence is completely normal and not a sign of poor hygiene.
Dust mites feed primarily on animal and human dander and hair. If your droppings dry, they crumble and mix with the house dust. The immune system of allergy sufferers responds defensively to the actually harmless feces and it comes to the allergy-typical symptoms mentioned. The cause of a house dust allergy lies in an excessive reaction of the immune system.
Mites feel particularly comfortable at 25 degrees and a humidity of 70 percent and therefore mainly stay in our beds. But there are also large amounts of mites in carpets, upholstered furniture and soft toys. Due to the climate, the mite concentration is highest in late summer and autumn. However, the allergy symptoms are particularly severe in winter, since heating the apartment reduces the humidity and a particularly large number of mites die. This process releases large amounts of allergens.
Typical symptoms of a house dust allergy
Like other allergies, a house dust allergy is characterized by a number of unpleasant symptoms. However, since many symptoms resemble those of a cold , a house dust allergy is often diagnosed late or not at all. Typical signs of a house dust allergy include:
- to cough
- Sneezing fits and runny nose
- difficulty in breathing
- Sore throat
- a headache
- Itching, especially on the eyes
- Restless sleep
If these symptoms persist all year round and occur increasingly at night and in the morning after getting up, this indicates a house dust allergy.
Asthma as a possible consequence
Asthma can develop in patients who have a long-term allergy to house dust. This shift of the disease to the lower respiratory tract is known as changing floors. Childhood asthma in particular is often caused by an allergy to house dust. In order to avoid such serious consequences, you should consult a doctor at an early stage in the event of complaints and talk to him about possible treatment options.
The doctor can easily find out whether you suffer from a house dust allergy with an allergy test (prick test). The allergens are injected directly under the skin. If a red, itchy rash develops after some time, the test is considered positive. If the test results are not clear, the allergens can also be applied directly to the nasal or eye mucosa.
What to do if you are allergic to house dust? 7 tips against mites
If you are allergic to house dust, you should primarily try to control the mites and thus avoid the trigger of the allergy as much as possible. That is why it is particularly important to adhere to certain hygienic rules. Then the symptoms of house dust allergy can usually be significantly alleviated.
- Try to keep the room temperature and humidity in the bedroom as low as possible. Also make sure to ventilate the apartment thoroughly at least once a day.
- Change your bedding more often and wash it at at least 60 degrees. You should also clean your mattress once a year. Also use mite-impermeable allergy coatings (encasing) – this will cut off the mites from their food source. Mite-proof allergy covers are also suitable for bed linen.
- Do not change your clothes or shoes in the bedroom. Also avoid combing your hair in the bedroom.
- If you have pets, you should not let them into the bedroom. In the case of severe house dust allergy, you should even avoid pets altogether. You should freeze cuddly toys in the freezer at regular intervals for 24 hours or put them in the tumble dryer.
- Remove possible dust traps from the bedroom: This includes cuddly toys as well as curtains and carpets. You should also avoid plants in the bedroom.
- Clean your apartment regularly: Always wipe with a damp dust and use a vacuum cleaner with a microfilter. If you suffer from a house dust allergy, you should not vacuum yourself if possible.
- To measure the current level of mite pollution in your home, a mite test from the pharmacy is helpful.
Hyposensitization fights the cause
Medicines such as antihistamines or glucocorticoid solutions help against the acute symptoms of a house dust allergy . An inhaled adrenaline spray can also help alleviate the symptoms. If these medications do not help sufficiently, you should consider hyposensitization.
In contrast to the medications mentioned above, hyposensitization not only combats the symptoms of house dust allergy, but also their cause, since the body is slowly getting used to the allergenic substance. This significantly reduces the risk of chronic respiratory damage.
In the event of hyposensitization, the allergen is either administered to the patient in the form of drops or injected directly under the skin. In this way, the immune system is trained not to react so strongly when it comes into contact with the allergen. However, hyposensitization requires patience: it can take several years for the therapy to be completed.
Homeopathy for house dust allergy
Many allergists also work with homeopathic remedies for a house dust allergy. With homeopathic treatment, the remedies are selected so that they produce symptoms similar to those in a healthy person to those from which the patient suffers. When treating a house dust allergy with homeopathy , the symptoms may initially get worse. It is controversial whether homeopathic treatment can actually alleviate the symptoms.