Dust mites, those stealthy home invaders that can wage a merciless war on our health. Dust mite allergies are a fact of life for some 20 million Americans who may suffer year-round misery thanks to these furry little bugs.
Invisible to the naked eye, dust mites are one of the primary indoor triggers for people with allergies and asthma. Mild reactions may include an occasional runny nose, watery eyes, or sneezing. But those who are more sensitive can experience persistent sneezing, coughing, congestion, facial pressure, or even severe asthma attacks. Suffice it to say, these microscopic menaces can punch well above their weight.
What are dust mites?
Well, here comes the gross part. They’re tiny, insect-like pests that feed on dead human skin cells and love to live in warm, humid environments. Many people co-exist with these creatures and never know they’re there. However, dust mites can cause a world of hurt to those allergic to them whose bodies react to the proteins and waste that dust mites produce.
Where are dust mites found?
Dust mites live in the bedding, mattresses, upholstered furniture, carpets, or curtains of your home. Even the cleanest house may not be dust mite free. But there are measures you can take to mitigate their effect on your health.
How to reduce your exposure to dust mites
Use allergen-proof bed covers which block dust mites’ access to your mattress and pillows.
Wash or tumble dry sheets, blankets, pillowcases, bedcovers, and curtains in hot water that’s at least 130 F.
Keep humidity low by using a dehumidifier.
Add a specialized filter to your air conditioning system, or use an air purifier.
Get rid of dust-collecting clutter.
Wash soft toys often.
Dust and vacuum your home regularly.
How to treat a dust allergy
Medications, including antihistamines, corticosteroids, and decongestants, may provide some relief. Nasal irrigation systems, such as a Neti Pot, may help to flush away the irritants. And then there’s immunotherapy, in which you train your immune system to be less sensitive to the mites using tablets or shots.
That said, the bottom line is you can’t completely get rid of dust mites, and you’re not going to stop being allergic to them. But what you can do is make your home and your body as inhospitable to them as possible.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: How to get rid of dust mites naturally to help your allergies