They are microscopic and harmless, but not for everyone. Dust mites are in fact responsible for allergies that can be kept under control with the help of the allergist and putting into practice some small changes within the walls of the house.They hide in the dust, and are so small that they are invisible to the naked eye, but for some their presence can still be really annoying.
Dust mites are microorganisms that can trigger allergic reactions, including those with asthma.
Causes and consequences of allergy to mites
Unlike seasonal allergies, such as grass allergies, mite allergy is perennial, since it lasts throughout the year, although usually symptoms tend to worsen in autumn: in this period it is in fact turned on in all the houses the heating, thus creating a perfect habitat for the proliferation of these organisms.
In fact, mites to live and multiply prefer environments with temperatures above 20 ° C and humidity percentages over 50%.
To cause the real allergic attack are not mites as such, but what remains of them after their decomposition, in addition to substances present in their feces.
The symptoms are those typical of the most common allergic reactions, such as rhinitis (which involves the sensation of itching in the nose, continuous sneezing, etc.), conjunctivitis and eczema.In the most serious forms real asthma attacks can also occur : almost half of asthmatic patients suffer from mite allergy.
However, those who are allergic to mites must also pay attention to certain foods, such as shellfish, land and sea snails, mussels, as they contain the same allergen that triggers the reaction to dust mites. In this case we speak of cross-allergies, or allergic reactions triggered, in the same individual, by apparently different causes. Other cases of cross-allergies are caused by the presence of the same allergen in a plant and in a food. Here are some examples:
|grasses||Tomato, kiwi, watermelon, peanut, wheat flour|
|Ambrosia||Watermelon, melon, banana|
|Composite||Celery, fennel , carrot, green pepper, parsley, chicory, chamomile|
|pellitory||Cherries, melon, basil|
Some simple, but useful, trick
In the domestic environment, mites tend to colonize mainly beds, sofas and furnishing fabrics such as curtains and carpets, as well as of course all the furniture on which the dust accumulates.
In particular, the mattress and pillow are the perfect habitat for mites, thanks to the increase in temperature and humidity that develops with prolonged contact with the body, and to the large amount of scales that detach from the skin and scalp (food beloved by mites) after rubbing against sheets and pillowcase; that’s why allergy symptoms, especially respiratory ones, often become acute during the night.
As with all allergies, the only real solution for not developing any symptoms is to avoid contact with the allergen: in the case of mites, although it is impossible to eliminate them completely, there are some tricks that can significantly reduce their concentration in the home environment :
- use “anti-mite” mattresses, pillows and bedding, that is impermeable to allergens and breathable;
- change bed linen a couple of times a week, washing everything at high temperatures to kill mites (60 ° C)
- eliminate from the bedroom all the furnishings and ornaments that can favor the accumulation of dust, using synthetic fabrics for curtains and blankets and eliminating from the floor carpet and rugs
- for cleaning, to be carried out every day especially in the bedroom, use damp or electrostatic cloths so as not to lift the dust and vacuum cleaners equipped with a HEPA filter (from High Efficiency Particulate Air), which allows to keep inside even the small particles, such as allergens
- Ventilate frequently all the rooms in the house and use dehumidifiers to avoid increasing the humidity percentage
- Keep the temperature of the house below 20 ° C
Drugs and vaccines
As with other allergies, the diagnosis is made by a specialist based on the history, symptoms and outcomes of the prick test or blood tests for the detection of antibodies that reveal the substance responsible for allergic reactions.
Also the medications to alleviate the symptoms are the same as those prescribed in the case of other allergies, such as antihistamines , decongestants, corticosteroids , bronchodilators , etc., which however are not effective in all patients, especially in the case of asthma attacks.
In the last few years a new therapeutic frontier has also opened up in the field of allergy, namely that of immunotherapy: in fact, so-called “vaccines” have been developed that can reduce both the symptoms and the use of drugs.
These properties have also been demonstrated recently for a vaccine against mites, which not only decreases the symptoms of allergic rhinitis and the need for corticosteroids, but also appears to significantly decrease asthmatic respiratory crises.