House dust mite allergy
Does your son suffer from watery eyes when he wakes up in the morning? Is your teenager wheezing when he/she comes home from the cinema? Does your daughter have a stuffy nose and is she sneezing in rooms with carpeting and/or curtains? Then it may be that your child is allergic to house dust mites.
What is a house dust mite allergy?
House dust mites are little creatures (0.1 to 0.6 mm) that belong to the family of Arachnids. House dust mites live preferably in dark and damp places, including mattresses, duvets, clothes, furniture and stuffed animals. House dust mites feed on skin flakes of people.
People who are allergic to house dust mites do not respond to the house dust mites itself but to the feces of house dust mites. Inhaling house dust mites allergens cause allergic symptoms in those who are sensitized.
How often does a house dust mite allergy occur?
The last 30 years, the number of people suffering from allergic diseases increased enormously, therefore allergy is becoming a serious health problem worldwide. In The Netherlands 1 out of 4 people suffer from a (chronic) allergy. Grass pollen is the most common allergen in The Netherlands followed by house dust mite allergens.
House dust mites do not only live indoors but also outdoors. Especially in hotels, cinemas and theatres many house dust mites are found due to the often heavy upholstered chairs, furniture and curtains. Also in public transport and taxi chairs house dust mite allergens are demonstrated. They are (almost) impossible to avoid in daily life.
House dust mites are also the main cause of (allergic) asthma. 8 out of 10 people with asthma have produced antibodies against house dust mites, therefore an allergy to house dust mites is becoming a serious health problem.
What are the symptoms of a house dust mite allergy?
The symptoms often occur at night and early in the morning because around 1 million house dust mites live in a bed. Your child lies in bed for an average of 8 to 10 hours a night and therefore is in long-term contact with this particular allergen.
The symptoms that arise as a result of an allergy to house dust mites are not seasonal but can occur throughout the entire year. Yet there is a noticeable increase in symptoms in the fall and winter because the house gets less ventilated and the heat is turned on, creating an ideal living environment for house dust mites.
Tips in case of a house dust mite allergy
There are a number of practical tips that you can use when your child is suffering from an allergy to house dust mites:
- Preferably use mattresses of polyether or foam rubber;
- For mattresses, pillows and/or duvets special covers can be purchased. These covers are impermeable to house dust mites and their feces. Just buying these covers will not help you. The covers should be part of a ‘package’ of allergen avoidance steps taken. These covers are not always reimbursed by your insurance company, please inform in advance to avoid unpleasant (financial) surprises;
- Use thin cotton curtains or synthetic material blinds which can be cleaned or can be washed regularly at 60°C;
- Only place closed book- and clothing cupboards and do not leave any clothing on the floor and/or chair;
- Preferably use materials such as parquet, cork or tiling on the floor;
- Do not place (too much) carpets in the room, as these are difficult to keep clean and obstruct ventilation. Especially fixed carpets on a concrete floor is a bad combination;
- Only give your child washable stuffed animals and was them regularly at 60ºC;
- Ventilate your home on a daily basis, especially the bedroom! Ventilate as often as possible in combination with heating (sun and central heating). Therefore, open the windows not only in summertime but also in wintertime;
- Never close air vents in the outside walls, not even in wintertime;
- Minimize the bed sheet and allow the bedding to air regularly;
- Wash bed sheets at least once every two weeks at 60°C;
- Clean furniture and floors regularly with a damp cloth. Do not use the vacuum cleaner as a broom but let it slide slowly across the floor including skirting boards. Use a powerful vacuum cleaner with paper dust bags that can be exchanged regularly;
- Check accurately if there are any leaks in the toilets, bathroom, plumbing pipes of sinks and/or sinks itself;
- Fix leaky gutters to prevent water coming into your walls and/or your home;
- Don’t allow your pets to come in the bedroom. They can increase the number of house dust mites.