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Allergies, asthma, and dust

Reactive airway disease - dust; Bronchial asthma - dust; Triggers - dust

 

Dust and Dust Mites

Things that make allergies or asthma worse are called triggers. Dust is a common trigger. When your asthma or allergies become worse due to dust, you are said to have a dust allergy.

  • Very tiny insects called dust mites are the main cause of dust allergies. Dust mites can only be seen under a microscope. Most dust mites in your home are found in bedding, mattresses, and box springs.
  • House dust may also contain tiny particles of pollen, mold, fibers from clothing and fabrics, and detergents. All of these can also trigger allergies and asthma.

Choose the Right Home Furnishings

 

You can do many things to limit your or your child's exposure to dust and dust mites.

Replace blinds that have slats and cloth draperies with pull-down shades. They will not collect as much dust.

Dust particles collect in fabrics and carpets.

  • If you can, get rid of fabric or upholstered furniture. Wood, leather, and vinyl are better.
  • Avoid sleeping or lying on cushions and furniture that are covered in cloth.
  • Replace wall-to-wall carpet with wood or other hard flooring.

Since mattresses, box springs, and pillows are hard to avoid:

  • Wrap them with mite-proof covers.
  • Wash bedding and pillows once a week in hot water (130°F [54.4°C] to 140°F [60°C]).

 

Other Tips

 

Keep indoor air dry. Dust mites thrive in moist air. Try to keep the moisture level (humidity) lower than 30% to 50%, if possible. A dehumidifier will help control humidity.

Central heating and air-conditioning systems may help control dust.

  • The system should include special filters to capture dust and animal dander.
  • Change furnace filters frequently.
  • Use high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters.

When cleaning:

  • Wipe away dust with a damp cloth and vacuum once a week. Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to help control the dust that vacuuming stirs up.
  • Use furniture polish to help reduce dust and other allergens.
  • Wear a mask when you clean the house.
  • You and your child should leave the house when others are cleaning, if possible.

Keep stuffed toys off beds, and wash them weekly.

Keep closets clean and closet doors closed.

 

 

References

Platts-Mills TAE. Indoor allergens. In: Adkinson NF Jr, Bochner BS, Burks AW, et al, eds. Middleton's Allergy Principles and Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 28.

Wright LS, Phipatanakul W. Environmental remediation in the treatment of allergy and asthma: latest updates. Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. 2014;14:419. PMID 24488258 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24488258.

 
  • Dust mite-proof pillow cover

    Dust mite-proof pillow cover - illustration

    To help decrease the amount of dust mites encase mattresses, box springs, and pillows with mite-proof covers. Further methods consist of washing bedding once a week in hot water, and dusting with a wet cloth once a week. Carpets can be a significant source of dust mites and should be vacuumed weekly with a vacuum cleaner containing a HEPA filter. Wooden and leather furniture is also another way to reduce the dust mite population in the home.

    Dust mite-proof pillow cover

    illustration

  • HEPA air filter

    HEPA air filter - illustration

    A HEPA (High Efficiency Particle Arresting) filter can remove the majority of harmful particles, including mold spores, dust, dust mites, pet dander and other irritating allergens from the air. Along with other methods to reduce allergens, such as frequent dusting, the use of a HEPA filtration system can be a helpful aid in controlling the amount of allergens circulating in the air. HEPA filters can be found in most air purifiers, which are usually small and portable.

    HEPA air filter

    illustration

    • Dust mite-proof pillow cover

      Dust mite-proof pillow cover - illustration

      To help decrease the amount of dust mites encase mattresses, box springs, and pillows with mite-proof covers. Further methods consist of washing bedding once a week in hot water, and dusting with a wet cloth once a week. Carpets can be a significant source of dust mites and should be vacuumed weekly with a vacuum cleaner containing a HEPA filter. Wooden and leather furniture is also another way to reduce the dust mite population in the home.

      Dust mite-proof pillow cover

      illustration

    • HEPA air filter

      HEPA air filter - illustration

      A HEPA (High Efficiency Particle Arresting) filter can remove the majority of harmful particles, including mold spores, dust, dust mites, pet dander and other irritating allergens from the air. Along with other methods to reduce allergens, such as frequent dusting, the use of a HEPA filtration system can be a helpful aid in controlling the amount of allergens circulating in the air. HEPA filters can be found in most air purifiers, which are usually small and portable.

      HEPA air filter

      illustration

    A Closer Look

     

    Talking to your MD

     

    Self Care

     

    Tests for Allergies, asthma, and dust

     

       

      Review Date: 5/18/2016

      Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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