The weather is warming up, the flowers are in bloom and the pollen is in the air. You have the classic symptoms of seasonal allergies like watery eyes, runny nose, itchy skin and cough. It must be the changing of the seasons that makes you sick, right? Not necessarily, especially if your symptoms occur after a night’s sleep or when you’re making your bed. Read on to find out what could really be causing your spring sickness and how to stop sniffling and sneezing so you can enjoy the season.
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Bedding, as well as other household items like rugs and curtains, frequently harbor microscopic pests called dust mites. If you live with these eight-legged creatures, you’re not alone. According to the American Lung Association (ALA), four out of five homes in the United States have dust mites.
The mites feed on the scales of skin that come off the man (up to 1.5 grams per day!). These flakes settle in areas where dust mites live, such as sofas, carpets, and especially your bed. The warmth of a mattress (mites thrive on dampness), coupled with the huge amount of dead skin cells that accumulate there, creates the perfect environment for these arthropods to congregate.
It doesn’t matter how clean and tidy your house is; simply cleaning and changing sheets and pillowcases cannot eliminate dust mites. And regular cleaning devices like vacuum cleaners aren’t effective at removing dust mites (which are able to cling firmly to surfaces and burrow deep beneath them) or prevent human skin cells from breaking down. accumulate (and therefore support the mites).
As the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America notes, there are at least 13 different species of dust mites, and although they tend to survive in humid conditions, they can live year-round. However, it’s not just live dust mites that cause allergies. Their carcass parts and waste are also allergens and can cause typical reactions such as sneezing, coughing, and itchy throat, as well as more serious problems, such as wheezing and shortness of breath, in people. asthmatics. Since these are also symptoms of a typical seasonal allergy, whether caused by pollen, mold or other allergens, it can be difficult to determine the cause of your discomfort.
So how do you determine if you are living with dust mites? The first thing to do is to rule out the possibility that you have a cold or some other type of virus. Symptoms can resemble allergies, but colds usually run their course after about five to seven days, according to the Mayo Clinic. Seasonal allergies also tend to occur at the same time each year for a specific period.
Once you’ve determined that a virus isn’t the reason you’re constantly blowing your nose, you’ll need to determine if your allergy is caused by dust mites. A key difference between seasonal allergy and house dust mite allergy is when symptoms appear.
Seasonal allergies are caused by the release of pollen, which leads to seasonal allergic rhinitis, also known as “hay fever”. According to the AAFA, the three main types of pollen that cause allergies are tree pollen, grass pollen, and weed pollen, which can be produced at different times of the year depending on location. For example, grass pollen can cause allergies during the warmer months in the northern United States, while it can be prevalent in the south year-round.
It is possible to have a reaction to pollen that is present throughout the year (or to react to each of the different pollens that are released in the fall, spring, summer and even winter), but have symptoms Allergy symptoms consistently despite changing weather may indicate a dust mite allergy, especially if it is most severe in the morning.
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Talking to your doctor and explaining when your symptoms occur, both over the year and over a 24-hour period, can help you determine if your allergy is caused by dust mites. Additionally, you may receive a skin test (SPT) in which allergens are applied to the skin, Healthline explains. The area is then pricked with a needle and monitored by your provider to see if there is an allergic reaction.
If dust mites are making you sick, your doctor can advise medication to treat the symptoms, but more importantly, there are precautions you can take to limit your exposure at home.
Start with your bedroom, as dust mites tend to live there more than anywhere else in your living space. The AAFA recommends preventative measures, including covering mattresses and pillows with zippered covers, washing bedding in hot water once a week, limiting textiles in your home like rugs and curtains, and using special certified filter vacuum cleaners that can reduce the amount of dust mites (and their waste).
You can’t completely get rid of dust mites, given their constant access to food and their ability to live deep in furniture like your mattress. But you can limit your exposure, which will go a long way towards providing relief.
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