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Severe Dust Allergy Symptoms and Treatment: My Personal Healing Experience

I have an off-the-chart allergy to dust mites according to my dust mite allergy test. But of course, I didn’t always know that I was allergic to dust mites. I originally thought my dust allergy symptoms were actually a chronic illness I had yet to discover or black mold inside my house.

Once I got past that I didn’t have a chronic illness making me sneeze, wheeze, and itch daily and also got past the point of looking into every crevice and nook of my house to see if I had black mold (I was going nuts for months), I went to the doctor’s to get tested for dust mites. Low and behold, I’m severely allergic to these invisible-to-the-eye critters.

As soon as I got the results, managing my dust allergy symptoms and treating them was fairly easy. Here’s everything I changed in my home for my severe dust mite allergy as well as my dust mite allergy treatment routine now.

What is a dust allergy?

A dust allergy can be a really frustrating allergy to have because it’s basically being allergic to something invisible. Like me, you might run through 100 scenarios of what’s making you sick before realizing that you’re allergic to the little critters living inside dust.

That’s right– dust allergy is not an allergy to dust but an allergy to the tiny bugs, also known as dust mites, living inside the dust. Allergists who suffer from dust allergies probably also suffer from allergic rhinitis and asthma, especially children.

Basically, a dust allergy is having allergies to the dust mites living inside the dust. Exposure to dust particles, dust mites, and cockroaches, which you can find at home, are the primary reasons for this allergy. People with dust allergy can also suffer from

What are common dust allergy symptoms?

Individuals who suffer from dust allergy often experience the symptoms like continuous sneezing, itching, runny or stuffy nose, red, itchy or teary eyes, tightness in the chest, and shortness of breath. 

If you experienced one or more of those given symptoms continuously at home or indoor settings, you might have a dust allergy and were exposed to dust particles with dust mites in them!

What are dust mites?

File:House dust mites (5247397771).jpg
House Dust Mites Under Microscope – CC 2.0 Photo by Gilles San Martin

Dust mites are microscopic insects that love to eat skin cells and dead skin. It is the most common cause of dust allergy. They are present at home as you might be able to tell with your dust mite allergy, but your eyes can barely see them because of their tiny or microscopic characteristic.

They can be found in multiple places such as:

  • where your skin settles such as in beddings, pillows, blanket, carpets, and curtains,
  • in libraries in books and in paper documents,
  • in feather products such as feather pillows, and
  • in the air when dust particles become airborne while cleaning your house.

Dust mites love warm and humid places and quickly multiply in that type of climate. They live in high temperature places with at most 70 degrees Fahrenheit while dying in low-temperature places.

Sounds like dust mites are everywhere, but don’t fret. In a bit, I will share how I personally minimized dust mites in my own home.

How I Discovered My Severe Dust Mite Allergy

I have fibromyalgia, which generally involves nerve pain, fatigue, achiness, and other symptoms daily. When I first moved to Amsterdam a few years ago, on top of these fibromyalgia symptoms, I was also sneezing, wheezing with asthma, and feeling itchy. I thought it was just part of my fibromyalgia.

Since my fibromyalgia often had me bedridden and I barely left the house, I couldn’t tell the difference between my fibromyalgia or dust allergy symptoms. I thought they were all one big issues.

As I started healing from my fibromyalgia, traveling more, and generally leaving the house more, I noticed that I felt much better in terms of sneezing and coughing when I was out of the house. The second that I got home I would start sneezing, coughing, and even getting an itchy throat at night.

Because I felt better outside the house, I quickly deduced that these specific symptoms were not due to my fibromyalgia or an illness. It had to be something in my home.

So after Googling like crazy about my symptoms, I thought for awhile that I had mold in the house that I couldn’t see. I checked every pipe and crevice for this issue, but couldn’t find anything. I really felt like I was going nuts at this point.

Google eventually led me to dust mite allergy testing, and low and behold, I am OFF THE CHARTS allergic to dust mites.

Since I found out that my symptoms were due to my dust mite allergy, I quickly changed up a few things around the house and started a dust mite allergy treatment. I started feeling better within months.

Dust Mite Allergy Reduction, Prevention and Management Plan

Before I talk about what I’m doing to treat my dust mite allergies, it is first and foremost important to control the dust mites already in your own and prevent them from multiplying. In my humble opinion, there is almost no point of treating yourself if you are still continuously going to be attacked by endless dust mites at home. It will be a constant battle.

That being said, of course your dust mite allergy prevention and management should be done simultaneously while treating your allergies, but I really want to stress that prevention and management is key!

Dust Mite Reduction Plan

As soon as you find out that you are allergic to dust mites, you need to reduce the dust mites already in your home. Here’s exactly what I did to reduce and prevent dust mites:

(1) Get a Foam Mattress Made with Protective Material Against Dust Mites

This might seem like overkill to get a brand, new mattress, but dust mites LOVE old mattresses. After years and years of sleeping on the same mattress, dead skin, oil, sweat, and millions of dust mites accumulate inside your mattress.

This is especially true for mattresses with spring because they have more air pockets where dust and skin cells build up in overtime.

As a result, it’s a good idea to get a foam mattress made with specially design materials to prevent dust mites.

It might seem like shelling out money for a new mattress is a bit much, but it has been quite essential for my allergies. After all, health should be the #1 priority in your life!

After switching to foam mattresses and sleeping on them for 10 years, I would never go back to spring mattresses. Besides the dust mite protection properties, foam mattresses are cheaper than regular spring mattresses, and most important, I have a better sleep on a foam mattress because of its firm but soft quality.

Also, I don’t feel my husband’s movement on the bed when he tosses and turns. We both have a much better sleep on a foam mattress.

Important: If you do get a foam mattress with dust mite protection, make sure that it has temperature regulating properties as traditional foam mattresses tend to trap your heat and make you hotter. A good foam mattress should have air circulating properties to keep the bed cool while sleeping.

Recommendation: After researching memory foam mattresses for dust mite allergies, I highly recommend a Nectar Sleep mattress because of its quality, price, forever warranty, free shipping, and 365 night home trial.

Yes– you can try the bed at your house for 365 nights and decide to return it if it’s not for you. But most importantly, it has dust mite protection.

(2) Buy Dust Mite Mattress and Pillow Covers

Whether or not you’re ready to buy a mattress with dust mite protection, you should definitely buy dust mite mattress and pillow covers. They can be used on your existing mattress or a new one, but regardless, these are a must.

Dust mite mattress and pillow covers do two things:

  • They trap in the existing dust mites within the dust mite protector.
  • They don’t allow dust mites, fluids, urine, skin cells, sweat, bacteria and allergens seep underneath the dust mite cover. It just sits on top of the fabric so you can easily throw the cover in the wash and wash all of your problems away– literally.

This is an inexpensive solution to keeping dust mites at bay, and in turn, your allergies away. I even bought a couple of extra sets to leave at my in-laws and various family member’s houses when I stay over.

How I Use These Hypoallergic Dust Mite Mattress Protectors

I’m not quite sure if I use these the most properly, but since the mattress cover zips up around your entire mattress, it is a bit of a pain to put on and off constantly. Instead, I use both this hypoallergic dust mite mattress protector, which I leave on all the time, and I put a regular sheet on top of it.

I do the same with my pillows. I have the hypoallergic dust mite pillow protectors on, then regular pillowcases on top of that.

Then I wash my regular sheets every week in hot water (more to come in the dust mite management plan section) and wash the dust mite protecting sheets every month.

(3) Buy a de-humidifier.

The humidity level at your home should ideally be between 30-50%. Anything higher will cause an environment that dust mites thrive in because they love humidity.

Personal Experience: Between buying a new mattress with dust mite protection and dust mite mattress protectors (a must), seems like the costs are adding up, but it’s so worth it! After the new mattress, mattress protectors and de-humidifier, my symptoms got significantly reduced.

Since I didn’t want to go all out with getting a dehumidifier for each part of the house, I bought one with:

  • wheels so I could move it around from room to room,
  • relatively quiet (dehumidifiers tend to be on the louder side), and
  • with a larger tank so I didn’t have to empty it constantly, especially in the summer when the humidity goes up.

I just move the dehumidifier in the hallway, which connects the bathroom, living room/kitchen and bedroom, or on super humid days, just leave it in the room where I’m spending most my time in or the bedroom.

(4) Buy a dryer for your clothes.

This is probably more for my European audience who don’t have dryers in their homes as much as Americans, but I went as far as buying a dryer; again, because of the humidity issue.

Before we had a dryer, we were hang drying our clothes on a manual drying rack without even thinking about all the moisture that was being released into the air from our clothes.

Yes, our wet clothes hang drying within our house was adding an incredible amount of moisture into the air, which meant lots of humidity for dust mites to thrive in.

(5) Add filters to your home heating and cooling systems.

Because dust mites can get airborne while cleaning, moving around, and just basically living, it’s a good idea to add filters to your home heating and cooling systems.

Dust mites are about 0.2 to 0.3 mm in length so you’ll need to get filters small enough to trap micron particles of this size. You’ll want to switch these filters out every three months.

Here are a few filters that can trap dust mites in addition to pollen, air pollution, bacteria and more:

(6) Hire an exterminator, or buy dust-mite killing chemicals.

I didn’t opt for this option because I’m sensitive to chemicals, but if you want to, you can hire an exterminator or buy dust-mite killing chemicals. I don’t think this step is necessary as I was able to reduce the dust mites in my home with everything mentioned above, but just in case you are looking for other options, I wanted to share this.

Dust Mite Prevention and Management Plan

Now that you’ve done all you can to reduce the number of dust mites already existing in your home, you’ll want to prevent and manage new ones from overtaking your house.

Maintaining the cleanliness of your house is the most effective way to make the number of dust mites into a minimum. However, the cleaning process itself can trigger allergy because the dust spreads in the air which becomes easier to inhale so wear a allergy mask with while you clean.

Besides the allergy mask, what you use to clean can make a huge difference. Wipe down dusty surfaces with a damp cloth as to not spread dust particles into the air, and use a vacuum with a filter small enough to remove allergens.

I highly recommend getting a cordless Dyson vacuum. Before this vacuum, I had one with a HEPA filter, supposedly small enough to filter out dust mites, but I still got really bad allergies when I vacuumed because of the filtration system that dispersed the allergens into the air.

The Dyson vacuum‘s filtration system has a great seal that completely sucks in dirty air instead of allowing it to escape. Since getting a Dyson vacuum, I’ve been able to do the vacuuming myself without getting bad allergy symptoms whereas before my husband had to do most of the vacuuming.

The Dyson is my choice for the best dust mite vacuum because of its filtration system as well as its ease of use. You can read more about my experience with the Dyson vacuum for dust mites here.

In addition, to make the cleaning process easier, try reducing the clutter in your home. Get rid of things that collect dust, and add time to the cleaning process. Also, if you have rugs, you might want to opt for hardwood floors instead.

Lastly, as for your bed linens, you’ll want to wash them weekly with hot water. However, if you like to wash with cold water, then you’ll at least want to dry them in the dryer at a hot temperature because the heat kills the dust mites.

Between my dust mite reduction, prevention and management plan, I was able to significantly reduce my dust mite allergy symptoms and enjoy being in my own home instead of sniffling, being itchy and wheezing.

Dust Mite Allergy Tests & Treatment

If you’re not sure whether you have dust mite allergies or not, or how to go about treating your dust mite allergies, I’d consult your doctor or allergist first.

Consulting a doctor or an allergist for your dust allergy treatment is the best way. They are the most capable and knowledgeable persons to help you in treating your allergies. They will need to do several tests on you to determine what triggers you allergy-like skin tests and blood test. They may also ask some related questions to analyze your situation further and to come up with an accurate and reliable diagnosis.

If you’d rather skip going to the doctor’s, you could get lab testing on your own terms for possibly faster results and less money. This reputable company, True Health Labs, offers inhalant allergy blood tests that not only include dust mites, but also include common trees, grass, animals, and mold in this test too.

After doing a blood test, I found out that I am also allergic to cat dander, pine tree, birch tree, cockroach, mold, and a couple of other trees.

antihistamine for dust allergy

After coming up with a diagnosis, your allergist will recommend you medications such as oral antihistamines, antihistamine sprays or nasal cortisone sprays.

If you are too exposed to dust mite particles, or you are allergic to those medicines, they might recommend immunotherapy aka allergy shots.

I highly recommend using these treatment options on top of changing your lifestyle at home since treating your dust mite allergies may be a never-ending battle if you don’t reduce, prevent and manage dust mites at home.

My Personal Treatment for Managing Dust Mite Allergies

I first went to my general practitioner to order an allergy test. He sent me to the allergist to do this, and they performed a blood test on me.

When the results showed that I am severely allergic to dust mites, I was immediately put on a daily anti-histamine. Before this, I was pretty anti-medicine and liked to treat myself with homeopathic ways, but taking a daily anti-histamine really worked. I still have symptoms at home, but they are much less severe.

Note: There are different types of anti-histamines, so if one doesn’t work for you, don’t fret. Go back to your doctor and ask to try another one. It differs for each person.

Shortly after taking a daily anti-histamine, I began allergy immunotherapy at my allergy clicnic. It started out with weekly shots over three months, and we gradually built up my shots to only once a month.

I have been getting dust mite allergy shots now since September and can see a reduction in my allergy symptoms between the anti-histamine and immunotherapy shots.

However, if an area of the house is really dusty and I’m not wearing my allergy dust mask, then it can cause me to get pretty sick. I feel weak and stuffy for the entirety of a day so I still have to be pretty cautious!

Immunotherapy Tip: When I get my immunotherapy shots, I generally have a HUGE itchy bump at the site of the injection. A couple of hours after the shot, I apply castor oil on the bite and it helps maintain the size of the bump as well as itchiness of it. It is sooo helpful.

Castor oil is really good for any type of bites and skin issues. My husband uses it anytime he gets poison ivy and on the unfortunate occasions where he’s gotten bed bug bites. It really helps with swelling and itching.

Overall, all these things to do might sound overwhelming, but keep in mind, everything I’ve done above has been over a year. Take your dust allergy treatment step-by-step. It does not has to happen overnight, especially if you don’t have the money to spend on a new mattress or immunotherapy shots.

Nonetheless, remember that your health is the most important thing in your life so don’t let your dust allergy get the best of you!

If you have ANY questions about dust allergies, feel free to comment below or each out to me on Instagram.

Thanks for stopping by! xo.

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Erwin van Deutekom

Friday 24th of December 2021

Wow! This really helps. I was feeling very down. Today was really really bad, i feel dizzy, cant breathe as well, think foggy, a lot of mucus. Usually its just mucus and a bit of dizziness. But today its crazy. I even feel a little bit like im getting a fever. But im sure its dust mites. Gonna ask for immunotherapy and also fix a dehumidifer. I did all the other steps as well! BTW; I live in Holland as well. Cool to read your blog.

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Thank you so much for your awesome support.