You might not even be aware that you are harbouring dust mites in your home. As we switch on the heating in the winter, they suddenly come alive. They love the warmer temperature and especially like the humidity, and unless you have something called a ‘Hygrometer’, that I don’t think anyone has in their home, you won’t know what the humidity is in your home to make it uncomfortable for them. Apparently, they die when the humidity falls below 50%.
For the most part we don’t give much thought to dust in our home, we casually go from day-to-day, breathing in, sleeping in and maybe consuming some of these tiny mites completely unbeknown to us. We only really notice it on a sunny day when the sun shines through the window with a beam of light and we can see all the tiny floating dust particles floating in the air, and just for a split second we think, oh look at all that dust we breathe in, and then realise that there is something a lot more interesting on the telly. But what we don’t realise is that there are numerous different things in that dust such as food crumbs, pet hair and dander, human hair, insect fragments, glue and fingernail filings to name but a few.
Where are the Dust Mites Lurking?
They love our mattress the most where they can seek warm tasty snacks of our dead skin to feast on through the night. They also like our pillows, as we rest our head on them and probably breath in a few in at the same time.
If you are horrified at the thought of this, don’t worry too much because you can’t see them, they are translucent and not visible to the naked eye. Somehow, that does not make me feel any better. If you are allergic you will have symptoms such as a runny and or stuffy nose in the morning and sneezing and feel like you have a cold then you are allergic to the dust mite droppings, but specifically a digestive enzyme in them.
Dust Mite Allergy Symptoms
Some of the symptoms of a dust mite allergy can include, runny/itchy nose, especially in the morning when you wake up. Red, watery itchy eyes, asthma with acute shortness of breath, skin itchiness, rash or hives.
Some more Revolting Facts about the Dust Mite
• The dust mite, is not an attractive looking bug, in fact, if you could see it you would be tempted to jump out-of-the-way and swiftly find something to swat it with.
• In one gram of dust, there are about 100-500 mites…..that’s a lot of mites!
• The female dust mite lives about 10 weeks and lays about 60-100 eggs in that time
• They have suction like feet that grip onto carpets and other upholstery making it difficult to vacuum them up.
• Even though your symptoms might start in the winter, more mites actually die then, due to the lower humidity. It’s the mite excrement that decomposes swirling into the air giving you an allergic response.
Dust Mite Prevention
• Cover your mattress’s and pillows with dust mite covers and hoover your bed, even though it won’t get them all up, at least some might lose their grip a little.
• Use a HEPA filter vacuum cleaner and if you have a vacuum cleaner with a bag, ensure that this is emptied regularly so you get the best suction power
• If possible get rid of carpets, and rugs especially in your bedroom. The dust mites have nothing to cling on to on a wooden or another hard floor.
• Avoid keeping potted plants in the bedroom, these only increase the humidity on the bedroom making it a nice environment.
• Wash sheets and duvet and duvet covers at a high temperature, to kill some of them off.
• Drying your clothes in a dryer for 2 hours at 60-80 degrees Celsius will help to kill them off.
• Dust mites love curtains as well, make sure you wash these as regularly as you can at a high temperature
• Open your windows and air your bedroom a couple of times a day and even a little at night if you can.
• Don’t heat the bedroom over 20 degrees C.
• In one study, having an electric blanket for 8 hours reduced dust mites by 50%
One other thing a came across in my research, was a possible prevention through probiotics. In one study probiotics altered the balance of pollen specific IgG and Ig E levels in seasonal allergic rhinitis and showed a reduction in symptoms in children and adults in allergic rhinitis by reducing the immune response to the house dust mite.
Although more research is needed, I found this connection with gut bacteria and probiotics the most interesting and will look into this in more detail at another time.
Here is the study:
Although these mites are a menace to a number of us, to a lot of people they cause no bother. They do not bite us, or sting us or transmit horrible diseases, like the mosquito….so I suppose we should be grateful in that sense.
But in the meantime, I will keep washing my sheets at ridiculously high temperatures, and go around my bedroom like a maniac with the hoover, just for piece of mind knowing that maybe a have rid myself from just a million or so of the those not so loveable mites.