Anyone can potentially be allergic to dust mites, or more particularly, to dust mite castings. Medical scientists believe certain people are genetically predisposed to have a dust mite allergy, just as some people have allergies to certain foods, pollen or any other substance. New studies, however, have found that high levels of dust mite excretions may cause some people to have an allergic reaction that they would not have if levels were average.
According to research introduced by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, anywhere from 18 percent to 30 percent of people in the United States suffer from a dust mite allergy, and approximately 50 percent of all U.S. homes have high enough dust mite allergen levels to induce a reaction in those who would normally not experience dust mite sensitivity.
A dust mite allergy is triggered when a person inhales dust or other airborne dust mite excretions. In some cases, external contact may also trigger certain allergy symptoms. Even though house dust has many components, studies have found that dust mite castings are the strongest.
Dust mite allergy has also been found to be more prevalent than originally thought. Up to 80 percent of asthma cases may be directly related to dust mite exposure. Eczema and hay fever may also primarily be caused by dust mites.
Dust Mite Allergy Symptoms
Symptoms of an allergic reaction to dust mites are caused by an individual’s immune system. When the immune system detects a potentially dangerous foreign object or substance in the body, it reacts to control or minimize the danger. People with a dust mite allergy have immune systems that are triggered by exposure to dust mite castings. The dust mite castings may be inhaled, or they may only come into contact with exposed skin.
When contact is made with the allergen, the immune system responds by creating antibodies. The antibodies, in doing their job, release histamines. Histamines are natural compounds that cause the body to react in ways that will protect it from diseases and infections. Unfortunately, protecting the body with histamines produces some side effects, and these side effects are the allergy symptoms.
Not everyone who is allergic to dust mites experiences the same symptoms, and symptoms may change from one reaction to the next in a single individual. Symptoms are often worse after spending time in rooms with poor ventilation, high temperature or high humidity.
- Those who are allergic to dust mites may experience one or more of the following symptoms:Headache
- Runny nose, nasal congestion, or sneezing
- Watery, red and/or itchy eyes
- Difficult breathing or wheezing
- Itching inside the mouth
- Pressure in the face
- Bags under the eyes
- Redness of the skin, rash, or eczema
When symptoms are present, they are rarely recognized as a dust mite allergy because these symptoms are common to many other ailments. A physician will be able to determine if the symptoms are caused by dust mites through blood and skin tests.