Published on Apr 11, 2011 with 8 comments
Dust mite allergy is the most common cause of year-round allergy symptoms in both children and adults. It is estimated that as many as 1.2 billion people have a dust mite allergy. This extremely high degree of allergic sensitization results from the fact that we are all exposed to dust mites and the allergens they produce on a daily basis. Virtually all homes have dust mites, so even though you may not have pets, you have pests! And, if you live in a relatively warm and humid home environment, or in such a climate, then the following information is highly relevant to you. You could have a dust must allergy and not even know it.
If you do have a dust mite allergy (and even if you don’t) you may be interested in knowing some scary facts and figures about the mighty dust mite. For starters, it takes only about a month for a dust mite to grow from egg to adulthood, and an adult dust mite will live another one to three months. An adult female dust mite will lay up to 80 eggs. After all is said and done, with this rate of reproduction, a non-encased mattress may be the home to more than 10 million dust mites and may contain over 2 ½ billion dust mite fecal pellets, the most allergenic component of the dust mite and a main concern for some looking for allergy relief. It is staggering, but an average dust mite produces up to 200 times its body weight in highly allergenic excrement during its short lifetime. And, it is also estimated that the weight of a two year old pillow will be comprised of 90% pillow stuffing and 10% living and dead dust mites!
Dust mites thrive in warm, humid environments. The ideal surroundings for dust mites are temperatures between 65-76 F (19-30 C) and 70-80 % humidity. And, a plentiful diet for a hungry, growing dust mite is not a problem, since dust mites eat the skin scales that we humans shed every day. The average person sheds the outer layer of skin every two weeks and estimates range from 50,000 to millions of skin scales shed each day.
The Online Allergist cannot corroborate the accuracy of all of the often quoted numbers cited above, but one thing is crystal clear: Dust mites and their allergenic by-products are abundant in the home environment and consequently, dust mite allergies are a huge problem. Therefore, the individual with a dust mite allergy must do whatever he or she can to minimize exposure to dust mites and their allergens. As daunting as this task seems, there are some effective allergy control products as well as three simple suggestions which can make a big difference in reducing allergy symptoms and bring some allergy relief.
1) All mattresses and pillows in the bedroom should be covered with dust mite covers specially designed and manufactured as allergy bedding (or as an allergy pillow), creating an allergy-proof barrier between the allergic child or adult and the dust mites.
2) The humidity of the bedroom should be lowered to less than 55%. This can be accomplished with a room dehumidifier. A dehumidifier is not specifically one of the many allergy control products sold on the market, but they can be effective in bringing allergy relief to sufferers of a dust mite allergy. For this reason, you may notice them sold along with other allergy products.
3) All carpeting should be removed from the bedroom as dust mites live and thrive there as well. (A square meter of carpeting can contain over 100,000 mites.) A HEPA vacuum should then be used to keep all of the surfaces in the bedroom clean, including floors, shelves, and walls. A HEPA vacuum will help keep allergens out of the air.
We hope that this presentation of dust mite allergy numbers, and the accompanying suggestions for allergy relief and allergy control products will result in a better set of numbers: less runny noses, less sneezing, less itchy eyes and noses, less allergy treatments needed, fewer boxes of Kleenex purchased…the list of reduced allergy symptoms goes on and on.