Allergy to dust mites

Content

Introduction

Dust mite allergy is an immune system reaction caused by small insects that commonly live in house dust. Signs of dust mite allergy include those common hay fever, such as sneezing and runny nose. Many people allergic to dust mites also experience signs of asthma, such as wheezing and difficulty breathing.

Dust mites, close relatives of ticks and spiders, too small to be seen with the naked eye, feed on cells released by the skin and thrive in warm, humid environments. In most homes, items such as bedding, sofas, and carpeting provide an ideal environment for dust mites to proliferate.

Control of dust mite allergy can be achieved either by taking steps to reduce the number in the home or by using medications or other treatments to relieve and manage symptoms.

Symptoms

The symptoms (symptoms) of dust mite allergy can range from mild to severe.

Symptoms associated with inflammation of the nasal passages include:

  • repeated sneezing and runny nose (rhinorrhea)
  • nasal obstruction (rhinitis)
  • itchy nose, palate or throat
  • itching, redness, tearing, irritation and swelling of the eyes (conjunctivitis)
  • facial pressure and pain
  • cough

Symptoms associated with asthma and breathing difficulties include:

  • chest tightness and pain
  • difficulty breathing, especially during physical exertion
  • wheezing, audible sound during exhalation
  • sleep disturbances caused by breathing difficulties

Some dust mite allergy symptoms (symptoms), such as runny nose or sneezing, are similar to those of the common cold but if the ailments persist for more than a week or become more evident in situations such as staying in unventilated environments, it could be an "allergy."

If you suspect an allergy, contact your GP. If breathing difficulties worsen quickly, go to the emergency room.

Causes

Allergies occur when the immune system reacts to a foreign substance (pollen, food, mold, pet hair, or dust mites). The immune system produces proteins known as antibodies that protect against external agents (antigens) that could cause disease or infection. In the case of allergies, the immune system produces a particular type of antibodies called immunoglobulin E or IgE directed against a particular antigen called an allergen which is not harmful but is identified as such by the immune system. In contact with the allergen, the immune system produces an inflammatory response which, in the case of mites, is borne by the respiratory tract. Regular and prolonged exposure to the allergen can cause chronic inflammation that is associated with asthma.

Dust mite allergy is caused by inhaling a protein found in the "debris" of dust mites, such as their feces and decaying bodies.Dust mites feed on organic matter such as cells released from the skin and absorb water from the moisture present in the atmosphere.

The following factors increase the risk of developing dust mite allergy:

  • having a family history of allergies: If several family members have allergies, sensitivity to dust mites is more likely
  • exposure to dust mites: Being exposed to high levels of dust mites, especially early in life, increases the risk of allergy
  • ageDust mite allergy is more likely to develop during childhood or early adulthood

Diagnosis

If ailments worsen during the night or during housekeeping that lifts dust mite allergens into the air, a dust mite allergy should be suspected. If a pet lives in the house, determining the cause of the allergy may be more difficult, particularly if the pet is sleeping in the bedroom.

The suspicion of an "allergy to dust mites can be confirmed based on the symptoms and clinical history of the person and his family (anamnesis), but to better define the diagnosis it is necessary to undergo a specialist visit and some tests:

  • allergological visit: The doctor will examine the nasal mucosa which, in the case of a respiratory allergy, will be swollen and appear pale or bluish
  • skin test (Prick test): In this test, a drop of purified allergen extracts, including dust mite extract, is applied with a special needle to the skin of the forearm or upper back. In case of allergy to one of the tested substances, after about 15 minutes, the development of a raised, red and itchy wheal will be observed at the injection site. Side effects disappear within 30 minutes
  • blood tests: Alternatively or in addition to the Prick test, the doctor may prescribe a blood test to screen for specific antibodies (IgE) that cause allergies to various common allergens, including dust mites and evaluate their presence or not

Therapy

The first treatment for dust mite allergy control is to avoid dust mites as much as possible. However, as it is impossible to completely eliminate dust mites from your environment, you may also need medications to control the ailments. symptoms):

  • antihistamines, they reduce the production by the immune system of a substance (histamine) which activates the allergic reaction. These medications relieve itching, sneezing, and a runny nose. They are available in tablets, syrups or nasal sprays
  • corticosteroids, given as a nasal spray, can reduce inflammation and control complaints (symptoms). Nasal corticosteroids provide a low dose of medication and have a lower risk of side effects than oral corticosteroids
  • decongestant nasal sprays, can help reduce mucosal swelling and facilitate breathing but for more than three consecutive days, they may worsen nasal congestion. Some tablet medications combine an antihistamine with a decongestant. Oral decongestants can increase blood pressure and should not be taken if you have high blood pressure, glaucoma or severe cardiovascular disease. In men suffering from an enlarged prostate, the drug can worsen the condition
  • antileukotriene, block the action of certain immune system chemicals. These drugs are taken orally and help reduce the symptoms (symptoms) of allergies. Possible side effects include upper respiratory infection, headache and fever.Less common side effects include behavior or mood changes such as anxiety or depression

Another possibility is immunotherapy, a desensitizing treatment against an allergen. The first phase of treatment involves the administration of very small and increasing doses of allergen (in this case the dust mite proteins that cause the allergic reaction) for once or twice a week and for a period of three to six months. The next phase, or maintenance, involves taking the preparation every four weeks for 3-5 years. Immunotherapy is generally used when symptoms are not controllable with drugs or for preventive purposes to avoid the progression of the allergy.

Prevention

No matter how clean the house is, dust mites cannot be completely eliminated. However, the number can be reduced by doing the following:

  • use a dehumidifier or air conditioner to maintain humidity levels of 50% or less
  • cover the mattress and pillows with dust covers suitable for the containment of mites
  • wash all sheets and blankets once a week in 50-60 degrees hot water, to kill dust mites
  • replace wool or feather products with synthetic materials
  • in bedrooms, floors should be easily washableAlso remove fabric curtains and upholstered armchairs, chairs or sofas
  • use a damp rag to remove dust. Never use a dry cloth as it raises dust
  • use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter
  • wear a mask when cleaning and leave the room to allow dust and allergens to settle

Bibliography

Mayo Clinic. Dust mite allergy (English)

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIH). Dust Mites and Cockroaches (English)

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