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What is a Dust Allergy?
Dust contains many potential triggers for allergic reactions including pollen, dander, mold spores, cockroach waste and dust mites. A single piece of dust can contain many varieties of pollutants. The most common dust related trigger is the dust mite, a microscopic insect that feeds on dead human skin cells. Dust mites thrive in warm, humid locations especially bedding, carpets and upholstered furniture. A dust allergy is an immune system response to the presence of dust and its contaminants.
Symptoms of Dust Allergy
Dust allergy symptoms can include sneezing, itchy, red watery eyes, itchy nose or throat, congestion or runny nose. Those with asthma may experience wheezing, coughing and other asthma related symptoms when exposed to dust. Dust allergies can range from mild to severe, with more severe reactions triggering asthma and chronic sinus inflammation.
Diagnosing Dust Allergies
Dust allergies can usually be diagnosed based on symptoms and an examination of the nose. Dust and other airborne allergens cause swelling and color changes along the nasal passage lining. If symptoms are worse during cleaning, when dust is often made airborne, there is a high likelihood of dust allergies being present.
Because dust can contain so many potential allergens, your doctor may want to administer a skin test or blood test to look for the specific triggers in order to help reduce or eliminate symptoms. During a skin test, small amounts of allergen extracts are introduced just beneath the skin's surface. If a reaction occurs, it confirms the presence of an allergy. In cases where skin tests are unable to be performed, a blood test can be administered to confirm the presence of antibodies that indicate an allergic response.
Help for Dust Allergies
The best way to prevent dust allergies is to reduce exposure. HEPA air filters and vacuums are recommended for removing dust from the air. Keep items like books, papers and other things that tend to collect dust put away. Protective coverings on mattresses and pillows can also help reduce exposure.
Many people who deal with airborne allergies do better by minimizing the amount of carpet in the home. Hard floors should be swept and damp mopped twice weekly to keep dust levels down. Keeping the humidity level lower in the home can also help.
Immunotherapy treatments, “allergy shots”, are an option for those with serious symptoms. The shots help reduce immune response over time. Antihistamine medications can also help with periodic flare-ups.