You enter your friend’s house and a few minutes later, your eyes burn, your nose becomes red, your skin itches, and you find it difficult to breathe. Your dust allergy strikes again, and you have to leave the place before your symptoms get worse. Dust allergies are one of the most common allergies people have, and their effects range from annoying to debilitating. If you don’t want to suffer the symptoms anymore, the following tips may help you get rid of your dust allergy for good.
Getting Rid of Your Dust Allergy
Your body and your environment both play a part in triggering your allergy symptoms, so you must change them both to get rid of your dust allergy. An allergy is an abnormal reaction by your immune system to a normally harmless substance. When your body encounters allergic triggers known as allergens, it releases chemicals that cause the various symptoms. The following are ways to make your body respond normally to these allergens:
- Identify what exactly triggers your dust allergy: Dust is composed of different substances depending on the environment. Even house dust differs from home to home, depending on moisture, building materials, type of furniture, presence of pets, and other things. House dust is usually composed of the following substances:
- Dead skin cells
- Mold spores
- Animal dander
- Fabric fibers
- Microscopic dust mites
- Parts of cockroaches
- Other particles and debris
Dust mites, parts of cockroaches, and animal dander are the most common allergens of dust allergies. You may be sensitive to only a single substance or one or two substances contained in the dust. By identifying what exactly causes your dust allergy, you’ll know what particular substance to avoid or remove from your environment; for example, if you’re allergic to animal dander, then you may have to move any cats or dogs out of the house. Identify your allergens by the following methods:
- Elimination: Expose yourself to a tiny bit of dust from different areas, and keep track of your response to each kind of dust. Collect dust samples and apply them on your skin. Note which one affects you the most, and then try to identify what makes the dust different from other dust samples.
- Consult your doctor: Pinpointing your allergens is a difficult task, so it’s still best to consult your doctor to be sure. Your doctor may use an allergy test, which usually involves scratch and skin prick tests to identify allergens.
- Take some antihistamines: Your body releases substances known as histamines when it encounters allergens, resulting in symptoms like itching and sneezing. Antihistamines are drugs that counter the effects of histamines to make your symptoms milder. They are mostly effective in reducing itching and sneezing symptoms, but have lesser effects on others.There are two types of antihistamines: first generation and second generation. Most first generation antihistamines have heavier side effects than second generation; for instance, drowsiness. Antihistamines typically come in nasal-sprays or oral pills that contain pain relievers and decongestants. Always consult your doctor before taking antihistamines, since they may have possible side effects and complications with other medications you’re taking.
- Try allergen immunotherapy or desensitization: It’s possible to get rid of your dust allergy by exposing yourself to controlled amounts of allergens. Allergen immunotherapy or desensitization involves injections of allergens to moderate your immune system’s response to the triggers. The treatment carries the risk of anaphylaxis, with symptoms such as lowered blood pressure, labored breathing, vomiting, and skin rashes. Anaphylactic shock can even be fatal, although this is rare with today’s modern standardized vaccines.In the United States, immunotherapy has been developed for common dust components such as dust mites and cat dander. Hypersensitivity to ragweed, Bermuda, orchard, rye, and sweet vernal grasses can also be cured through this method. You should definitely try this treatment if avoiding allergens and taking antihistamines don’t work for you.
- Relieve nasal symptoms with intranasal corticosteroids: Intranasal corticosteroids are drugs that prevent the irritation and inflammation of your nasal membranes, and they usually come in nasal sprays, inhalers, or drops. They are very effective against nasal symptoms, like watery discharge, congestion, and labored breathing. These drugs may have some side effects, and are not effective against other types of symptoms.
Getting Rid of House Dust
All your treatments and medications won’t work if your surroundings are filled with allergens that compromise your health. Dust allergy is not a sign of a dirty house, since dust is present even in the cleanest homes. A dirty house, however, can make your symptoms worse, because there would be more allergens on surfaces and in the air. The following are some dust cleaning tips that can reduce your risk of developing symptoms:
- Clean your home on a regular basis: Pay special attention to bedrooms where fabric fibers, skin cells, mites, and other substances often mix in the dust. Vacuum rooms thoroughly or dust with a damp cloth. If you’re allergic to dust, someone else should clean the house for you, but you can also do this by wearing a mask and other protective pieces of clothing.You can purchase special vacuum cleaner bags to trap dust, or you may install a central vacuum system to make cleaning easier. Your doctor may also recommend the use of a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Arresting) vacuum, although this is quite expensive and not necessary for all patients.
- Replace all items that collect dust with easy-to-clean items: Instead of upholstered furniture, use wooden, plastic or leather-covered sofas. Books and decorative ornaments are dust collectors, so choose closed bookcases and cabinets instead of open shelves. Use window shades and washable curtains in place of heavy draperies and Venetian blinds. Lastly, go for pieces of furniture with simple styles rather than ornate pieces.
- Clean or change your air conditioner and furnace filters regularly: Dust collects on the filters of your air conditioner and furnace, making them inefficient and providing more breeding grounds for mites. Clean or change them regularly to get rid of the dust, or use a HEPA filter to make sure that the air you breathe is clean.
- Get rid of stuffed animals: They’re cute and cuddly, but their fabrics are good breeding grounds for dust mites. If you want to keep stuffed animals in your home, make sure that they are made of washable materials.
- Never allow pets in your house: Cat and dog fur collect dust, pollen, and other allergens. Don’t keep animals in your home until you’ve completely gotten rid of your dust allergy.
Getting Rid of Dust Mites
Dust mites are microscopic creatures that commonly trigger allergic symptoms in people. As many as 90 percent of people with allergic asthma are sensitive to dust mites. The mites themselves and their feces are allergens, and they are often found in high concentrations in carpets, mattresses, pillows, and upholstered furniture. You can reduce the number of dust mites in your house through the following methods:
- Remove carpeting: Dust mites breed and thrive in your carpets, so remove them. If you want to have carpeting, select ones with low pile, or go for scatter rugs that can be washed once a week. Linoleum floor covers, seamless vinyl, and wooden floors are best because you can clean them easily, and mites don’t like to live on them.
- Select washable materials for your bedroom: Use pillows filled with synthetic materials instead of pillows stuffed with feathers, foam rubber, or kapok. Also, store your pillows and mattresses in special casings made of plastic or rubberized fabric, so they won’t catch dust mites. Do not use chenille bedspreads and comforters; instead, use washable spreads and blankets. Wash all your bedding materials once a week using hot water to remove all mite particles.
- Use tannic acid: Tannic acid destroys dust mite particles, but it doesn’t kill the mites themselves, so its effect is temporary most of the time. It’s easy to use and works fast, but you will have to use it again in the future. In addition, tannic acid may stain upholstery, so test it first in a small area before applying it to a larger one.
- Try benzyl benzoate: Benzyl benzoate kills dust mites and prevents their waste products from building up in your carpeting and upholstery. It typically comes in moist powder form that you brush on your carpets and furniture. Leave the moist powder to dry for eight to 12 hours before vacuuming. You can keep your dust allergy symptoms under control by using it just once or twice a year.
There’s no need to suffer the symptoms of dust allergy. Get rid of your dust allergy now, and live an easier and more enjoyable life.
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