To see your child break out into a fit of sneezing can be an unnerving experience for any parent. A dust allergy may present itself in this type of dramatic way. But a dust mite allergy might also be more subtle, but no less scary. Your child may suffer repeated episodes of shortness of breath.

You may also notice that your child feels itchy and breaks out into hives or rashes. You rack your brain to find what caused such a severe reaction and may be quite surprised to learn that your child may be suffering from a dust allergy. Dust allergies are a leading cause of indoor allergy symptoms. A reaction to dust mite can occur any time of the year and are usually initiated by household cleaning, sweeping, or vacuuming. In fact, almost any kind of cleaning activity can trigger an allergic response in children who are sensitive to dust and dust mites.

Dust allergies are a response of the body’s immune system to dust or dust mites. Dust mites are found in nearly all homes and are difficult to avoid completely. They are also known as bed mites and are the most common reason for dust allergy. These dust mites are microscopic creatures that flourish, especially in warm and humid climates.  House mites feed on dead skin flakes from humans and pets. Bedding, carpets, furnishings, and clothing carry these skin cells and are common homes for these tiny bugs. The actual allergy is to a protein present in the mites’ waste droppings that produces a hypersensitive reaction in the body. In a day, a house mite produces about 18-20 droppings. Our houses are full of these microscopically small dust particles that can trigger a severe reaction.

COMMON SYMPTOMS OF DUST ALLERGY

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Watering eyes
  • Wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath
  • Severe itching

These symptoms can persist, and it may appear as if your child is suffering from a persistent cold or asthma. A thorough evaluation will help in identifying the actual allergen responsible for these symptoms.

Occasionally, asthma-like symptoms may also occur. This is a situation which requires immediate medical attention.

MANAGEMENT OF DUST ALLERGIES

If you suspect your child is suffering a dust allergy, it is best to consult an allergist. After a complete analysis and detailed history, your doctor may advise a skin-prick test to determine the exact allergen and a test of blood IgE levels to confirm the same.

Treatment may include medications to control symptoms, immunotherapy or allergy shots, and lastly, avoidance of dust. In fact, minimizing in home dust is the most important element of dust allergy management. Medications such as antihistamines and decongestants are commonly used to reduce the intensity of symptoms. Allergy shots improve overall immunity and resistance against allergies.

There are many ways to reduce your child’s exposure to house dust mites. Simple steps include:

  • Always keep your child’s bed clean by washing bed sheets and pillowcases every week. Also use a dust mite cover on the bed to protect your child when sleeping.
  • Keep your house clean, avoiding clutter and vacuuming regularly.
  • Clean and vacuum carpets, soft beddings, and furnishings.
  • Instead of carpets, use wooden flooring.
  • Keep pets out of an allergic child’s room.
  • Consult a reputable pest service if cockroaches are a problem.
  • Keep all food covered and dispose of waste in a clean and hygienic manner.

Since ridding your home of dust mites is nearly impossible, the focus should be on minimizing their presence. Next, work with your medical partner to manage your child’s allergic response. Together, these two steps will allow everyone in your home to breathe easier.

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REFERENCES

  • Calderon MA, Linneberg A, Kleine-Tebbe J, et al; Respiratory allergy caused by house dust mites: What do we really know? J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2014 Nov 22.
  • Akdis M; New treatments for allergen immunotherapy. World Allergy Organ J. 2014 Sep 24;7(1):23.
  • Nurmatov U, van Schayck CP, Hurwitz B, et al; House dust mite avoidance measures for perennial allergic rhinitis: an updated Cochrane systematic review. Allergy 2012 Feb;67(2):158-65.

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