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What is a Dust Allergy?

A dust mite allergy is an allergic reaction caused by the tiny bugs living within your home’s dust. Allergic reactions caused by dust mites are similar to asthma, with symptoms including wheezing and trouble breathing.

In the same family as ticks and spiders, dust mites eat the skin cells that we shed. While too small to see without a microscope, dust mites often dwell in hot, humid climates where they nestle into bedding, upholstery, and carpet. A common allergy, reactions to dust mites can be easily prevented and treated.

Symptoms

If you have a dust mite allergy, your nasal passages will react when exposed to the tiny bugs, causing the following:

  • Sneezing or coughing
  • Runny nose
  • Congested sinuses
  • Itchy or irritated eyes
  • Mouth itchiness
  • Postnasal drip
  • Pressure in your face, especially under the eyes and around the nose
  • Trouble breathing
  • Pain or tightness through the chest, especially if you have asthma

When to See a Doctor

Consult your primary care provider if your dust mite allergy symptoms don’t go away after several days, or worsen to the point where you find it difficult to sleep or breath.

Causes

A dust mite allergy is caused by the proteins left by tiny bugs, or mites, living within your home’s dust.

Diagnosis and Tests

In addition to asking you questions about your symptoms and lifestyle, your provider may use a variety of tools to diagnose and confirm if you have an allergy to dust mites:

  • Physical examination of nasal passages
  • Skin allergy test – Possible allergen samples are applied to skin and then observed for reaction
  • Blood test

Treatments

The best treatment for a dust mite allergy is to avoid the mites and regularly dust and vacuum your home to prevent them from settling. Providers may also recommend this treatment to manage your symptoms:

  • Allergy immunotherapy, also known as an allergy shot, is a long-term treatment that reduces your sensitivity to substances that cause allergies. Many people find that their allergies improve so much that they can stop taking their regular allergy medications.

    Immunotherapy is less effective in some patients who have asthma because their asthma is not the result of allergies. Even so, about half of patients with asthma have an improvement in their asthma symptoms because of immunotherapy. Although immunotherapy generally is considered safe and effective, you should know that no treatment outcome is guaranteed.

Prescription and over-the-counter medications may also be recommended, including:

  • Antihistamines
  • Decongestants
  • Corticosteroids

Prevention

The best treatment for a dust mite allergy is to avoid the mites and regularly dust and vacuum your home to prevent them from settling.