So if dust mites are harmless, why worry about getting rid of them? For those who suffer from a dust mite allergy, it can mean the difference between suffering daily allergy symptoms or not.
A dust mite allergy is considered a type of indoor allergy, and is often confused with hay fever because the symptoms are similar. The biggest difference, though, are dust mite allergy symptoms can strike year-round and often include the following:
- Nasal congestion, along with sneezing, postnasal drip, and a runny, itchy nose (or throat)
- Red, irritated and puffy eyes
- Dark or blue-hued, under-eye circles
- Headaches, sinus pain and pressure
- Coughing and congestion
- In some individuals, asthma symptoms such as wheezing, chest pain and breathing problems
Here's what's going on. When the body's immune system detects a foreign substance (also known as an antigen) such as a virus or infection, it mounts an attack, helping to keep us safe and healthy. An allergic reaction happens when our immune system responds to a foreign substance such as pet dander, pollen or dust mites -- substances that normally aren't our enemy -- in an exaggerated way, resulting in symptoms that range from sneezing and congestion to itching and rashes. Sometimes a severe, whole-body allergic reaction called anaphylaxis may occur, which requires immediate medical attention.
People allergic to dust mites are actually having a reaction to proteins that are part of the waste dust mites produce. Controlling a dust mite allergy comes down to eradicating them from your home. Regardless of how often you dust and how clean a house your keep, you can't eliminate 100 percent of them. But there are steps that you can take to significantly cut their numbers, from some simple changes in how you clean to making allergy-friendly decisions regarding the bedding and furniture you buy.