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11 Surefire Ways To Protect Yourself From House Dust Mite Allergies
What Are House Dust Mite Allergies?
Does this sound familiar? You don’t have a cold or the flu, but you notice that when you lie down on your bed your nose itches and you start sneezing. In the morning you wake up with watery eyes, a runny nose, and more sneezing. Chances are you’re reacting to airborne debris from house dust mites. House dust mite allergies are caused by these minute, translucent creatures, measuring from 0.2 to 0.3 millimetres in length (0.008 to 0.012 inches), and they are invisible to the naked eye. They thrive in warm, dark, damp environments where temperatures are higher than 25⸰C or 77⸰F.
House dust mites are arachnids, which means they’re from the same family as spiders. They have 8 legs and can live from 10 to 70 days, depending on whether they’re male or female. The female, which lives longer, lays 60 to 100 eggs and produces up to 2000 particles of fecal matter in its lifetime. It’s these droppings, rather than the mites themselves, that are a major cause of allergic asthma and chronic rhinitis (hay fever).
Over half of all allergic asthmatics are sensitive to house dust mites. If you think you might be allergic to house dust mites, talk to your doctor or allergist about allergy testing.
Dust mites do not bite or transmit disease, and they do not live on the skin. They subsist on dead skin – the average adult sheds two pounds of dead skin every year – and live in fibres in mattresses, pillows, carpets, upholstered furniture, curtains and soft plush toys.
Minimizing House Dust Mite Allergies
No matter how clean your house is, dust mites can’t be totally eliminated. But there are specific measures you can take to dramatically reduce their numbers and thereby reduce your house dust mite allergies:
1. Encase mattresses and box springs in allergy-barrier zippered covers, and wipe the covers frequently.
2. Maintain humidity at less than 40% with a Use fans in the bathroom and kitchen and don’t use a humidifier or vaporizer in the winter.
3. Keep the house cooler, especially the bedrooms. Air conditioning may be necessary during the summer months.
4. Remove all clutter: books, boxes, wallets, magazines, papers – anything that is lying around.
5. Keep pets out of the bedroom.
6. Shower and shampoo before bedtime.
7. Install a central vacuum system or purchase a high efficiency particulate arrestance (HEPA) vacuum cleaner to prevent recirculation of dust mites. Vacuum at least once a week.
8. Replace old carpets. Even with a new carpet, it’s almost impossible to vacuum out dust mites. With that in mind, consider replacing carpets with easy-to-clean materials like hardwood, linoleum or tile, especially in the bedroom. Where carpets do exist, steam clean them on a regular basis.
9. Avoid buying or sitting on “over-stuffed” furniture. These are perfect environments to promote house dust mite allergies.
10. Wash all bedding and blankets weekly in hot water (60⸰C or 140⸰F) to kill dust mites. Non-washable bedding can be frozen overnight to kill dust mites.
11. Consider using a dust mite detection kit that measures how well you are reducing the number of dust mites.
Remember, dust mites are part of the house dust problem. All measures that eliminate dust are part of the solution.
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