Four allergist-approved ways to get rid of dust mites

You can’t see them but if you’re allergic to dust mites, these tiny buggers can really wreak havoc. There are many ways to control them and minimise your allergies, though. As compiled from Readers’ Digest, here’s what you can do. What are dust mites? A dust mite is only about one-quarter to one-third of a millimeter in size. Under a microscope, they look like white bugs with eight legs. And while they don’t bite, they do chow down on dead human skin cells. Where do dust mites live? These pesky bugs make themselves comfortable in your bedding, mattresses, upholstered furniture, carpets, curtains and even stuffed toys. They thrive in high temperatures and prefer humidity. As they don’t drink water, they absorb moisture from the air.
A dust mite starts off as an egg and develops into an adult over a month, provided the temperature and humidity level is just right. It can live up to two months and female dust mites lay about 100 eggs during their life spans.
Geography makes a difference, though. If you live in a place that is high, dry and cold, there will be fewer dust mites. What are the symptoms? “Dust mites cause allergy by inhalation of their microscopic fecal matter and dead body parts, which are allergens,” explains Neeta Ogden, MD, an allergist and immunologist in New Jersey, and a spokesperson for the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. “This can lead to a more chronic allergy picture. Year-round nasal congestion is classic for dust mite allergy.” The itchy, irritated skin of eczema is also tied to dust mite allergy. Other symptoms can include sneezing, sniffling, itchy eyes, and/or cough. An allergy to dust mites may also cause or worsen asthma too. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain or tightness and difficulty talking. And it can lead to a severe asthma attack.
  Treating a dust mite allergy Since you can’t totally get rid of dust mites, treating your symptoms will help reduce some of your misery. Immunotherapy, or allergy shots, can help. Other treatments are aimed at symptoms: If you are sniffling and sneezing, an over-the-counter antihistamine. If your eyes are itchy, then eye drops are available. How to get rid of dust mites “Dust mites are an inevitable part of our homes. But you can take steps to reduce exposure and minimize symptoms,” says Dr Ogden. That starts with closing off access to their favourite hiding spots.
  Get dust-mite-proof covers Invest in mattress and pillow covers that are specially designed to keep dust mites out. A 2018 study in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice found that finely woven fabrics keep dust mites out.
  Use hot water When it’s time to wash your bedding, use hot water once a week to kill off residual dust mite particulate matter,” Dr Ogden advises. You can do the same for beloved stuffed animals. And if the toy is too precious to wash, place it in a plastic bag in your freezer for 24 hours as this will also kill the dust mites.
  Choose different decor Consider getting rid of carpet and opting for hardwood floors or area rugs instead. These can be cleaned better or just regularly washed. It’s also a good idea to skip fabric drapes and headboards, which can harbour mites. Instead, choose blinds and furniture you can wipe down.
  Get a HEPA filter High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters can help get dust mites and other allergens out of the air, says Karin Pacheco, MD, an allergist and associate professor in the division of environmental and occupational health sciences at National Jewish Health in Denver.
Vacuum regularly with a HEPA-certified vacuum so dust and allergens stay in the vacuum, Dr Ogden suggests. Oh, and if you can pass the cleaning job off to someone without a dust mite allergy, go for it!

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