How dust mites trigger allergic reactions

Dust mites are close relatives of ticks and spiders. They thrive in and on mattresses, bedding, upholstered furniture, carpets, drapes, and curtains. They eat flakes of your dead skin, as well as the dead skin of your pets.1

Dust mites and their droppings are a major allergen affecting allergy and asthma sufferers.2 Dust mites are microscopic, about 250 microns in diameter. But their droppings are as small as 10 microns in diameter, and the droppings break down into particles much smaller.

In a home, the droppings and carcasses of dead dust mites add up over time. A study by the London (U.K.) NHS Trust found that up to a third of a pillow’s weight after two years of use is composed of living and dead dust mites, dust mite feces, dead skin, and bacteria.3 A bed mattress can nearly double in weight over 10 years as a result of accumulating dust-mite particles.4

Airborne allergies infographic

Dust mites are not the actual allergen

To be precise, the dust mites aren’t the problem; it’s their droppings and decomposing bodies that cause a variety of health problems when inhaled.

According to research by the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care in Cologne, Germany, dust mite droppings smaller than 10 microns can be inhaled and deposited directly in the alveoli (tiny air sacs that allow oxygen and carbon dioxide to move between the lungs and bloodstream).5

For as many as 20 million people in the United States alone, the result of breathing dust mite particles is a runny nose and other respiratory symptoms.6 Inhalation of dust mite particles can also trigger an asthma attack, according to the American Lung Association.7

Dust mites are a year-round allergy issue

Dust mites prefer living in temperatures above 70 degrees Fahrenheit. They also prefer a humid environment.

When they die, Indoor Air Quality continues to be negatively affected. Dust mite droppings and particles from their carcasses continue to become airborne throughout the cold season.

That’s largely the result of homeowners cranking up their forced-air heating systems, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI).8 When the heating turns on, dry air lifts the particles from carpets and other surfaces and they become airborne.

Take 7 steps to control dust mite allergens

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce the presence of dust mite particles in the air you breathe at home.

Consider the following advice to help control dust mites and other allergens all year long:

  • Consult a board-certified allergist, who can help with allergy issues.9
  • Maintain interior humidity below 55%. Vent fans, and even a dehumidifier, will help.
  • Remove carpeting from the bedroom, if possible. Dust mites thrive in carpeting.
  • Keep pets out of the bedroom or minimize the amount of time they spend in bed.
  • Replace your mattress and pillows. Mattresses should be replaced every eight years.10 Pillows should be encased in dust-proof covers and replaced regularly (about once per year) for dust mite allergy sufferers.11
  • Consider using high-quality dust mite pillows and mattress covers. These products are available from premium sleep stores.
  • Use a high-powered dust mite air purifier:
    • For single rooms and the bedroom, the HealthPro® Plus is the #1 rated air purifier for asthma and allergies.
    • Interested in installing a high-quality filter in your home’s HVAC system? The #1 rated Perfect 16 whole-house air purifier fits seamlessly into your existing HVAC system.

By following these steps, you can help prevent exposure to dust mite allergens in your home.

Still not sure what air purifier is right for your dust mite allergies? Use our Help Me Choose and get your custom air quality solution in three easy steps.

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