Dust and Dust Mites

Dust and dust mites are very common triggers for a variety of respiratory symptoms. People with reactions to house dust usually also have reactions to house dust mites and dust mite excrement as well.  

Some commonly found items in house dust are: ash, animal and human dander, animal and human hair, cotton fibers, fingernail filings, food crumbs, fungal and mold spores, glass particles, glue, graphite, insect fragments and excrement, soot, paint chips, paper fibers, parts of plants, pollens, polymer foam particles, salt and sugar crystals, silk fibers, stone particles, tobacco, wood shavings and wool fibers.   

According to Darryl C. Zeldin, acting director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Services, 18% to 30% of Americans are allergic or sensitive to the waste products of dust mites, and almost 50% of American homes have allergen levels that are high enough to cause sensitivity in people who were not previously allergic to dust mites. In other words, high levels of dust mites and their excrement can cause previously non-allergic people to develop an allergy or sensitivity. 

 According to the American College of Asthma, Allergy & Immunology, approximately 10 percent of Americans exhibit allergic sensitivity to dust mites.

Dust and Dust Mite are present all year so their associated symptoms can be present year round as well.  The symptoms can become worse during times of the year when the house is closed.  The dust mite excrement can become airborne when someone walks over the carpet, sits in a favorite chair or shakes out blankets, making symptoms worse in people who are reactive.   Closing the house during cold weather can cause a larger concentration of dust mites and dust mite excrement to accumulate inside, increasing symptoms for people during cooler seasons of the year.  Symptoms can also be made worse in the spring when pollens can further aggravate respiratory reactions.

House dust mites are too small to be visible to the naked eye.  They live on dead skin cells, commonly called dander, that are shed from humans and their pets.  Very high concentrations of dust mites are most often in mattresses, pillows, frequently used furniture and carpeted areas.  The average person sloughs off 1/3 of an ounce of dead skin every week, which can give the mites a nice meal on a regular basis.

If you have a sensitivity to dust mites, change your pillow at least once a year.  Research has shown that a two-year-old pillow can contain 10% of its weight from dead mites, their excrement as well as fungi.    In 2005, The University of Manchester did a study on pillows and found 16 different species of fungi in a single pillow.  They tested feather and synthetic pillows of various ages, finding thousands of spores of fungus per gram of pillow.    

According to the Mayo Clinic, the following symptoms are common in people who are reactive to dust and dust mites:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Itchy, red or watery eyes
  • Nasal congestion
  • Itchy nose, roof of mouth or throat
  • Postnasal drip
  • Cough
  • Facial pressure and pain
  • Frequent awakening
  • Swollen, blue-colored skin under the eyes
  • In a child, frequent upward rubbing of the nose

Here are some things you can do to decrease your overall exposure to dust mites in the bedroom, as that is where over 1/3 of the dust mite exposure happens.  Remember, a typical used mattress may have anywhere from 100,000 to 10 million dust mites inside it.

  1. Try vacuuming the mattress or using dust mite covers for your beds and pillows.  
  2. Wash your sheets, pillows and blankets in very hot water. Cold and warm water won’t kill mites.  For fabric that can’t be washed in hot water; just pop it into the freezer for 24 to 48 hours to kill dust mites.
  3. Reduce temperature and humidity: Keep the thermostat in the house below 70 degrees and if possible keep humidity below 50%.
  4. Clean weekly: Change pillowcases, sheets, and blankets weekly.   
  5. Don’t make your bed:  A study by Kingston University shows that simply leaving your bed unmade each morning, exposing the sheets to the air and allowing them to dry out causes a substantial reduction in the number of dust mites.
  6. Children’s soft cloth toys: Regularly place soft toys in the freezer for 24 hours before you wash them, or wash them in hot water.
  7. Get an Air Purifier: While it is better to stop the dust mites at the source, reducing the dust levels in the air is a good secondary measure.
  8. Furnace Air Filters: Clean or replace the air filters on your furnace or air conditioner at least once a month.

At Absolute Health, LLC we offer an advanced therapy that can help relieve or significantly reduce the many symptoms associated with dust and dust mites.  This treatment is non-invasive and does not include needles, supplements or medications.  It is completely pain-free and available to all ages, including infants.  If you suffer with symptoms caused by dust and dust mites, please call our office today at 480-991-9945 and find out how we can help.