Dust mites are one of the most common causes of allergy in the United States. These creepy critters are so tiny you could fit thousands on the head of the pin. Every home has them.…
Dust mites are one of the most common causes of allergy in the United States. These creepy critters are so tiny you could fit thousands on the head of the pin. Every home has them. They live in mattresses, pillows and upholstered furniture — anywhere they find moisture along with their favorite food, which is human skin dander (shed skin flakes).
Allergen proteins from their droppings and carcasses can trigger nasal and skin allergy symptoms — and may also worsen asthma.
Steps you can take to reduce exposure to the allergens include:
— Use dust mite-proof mattress and pillow encasings to prevent mites and their allergens from escaping into your airways and settling into house dust.
— Vacuum carpets and dust surfaces regularly.
— Keep dust mite levels down in bedrooms by removing carpets, stuffed animals, dust-catching furnishings and stacks of books and papers.
— Keep indoor humidity levels below 50 percent, as dust mites require moisture to live.
— Wash bedding regularly in hot water to kill off dust mites.
All these measures will help reduce levels of dust mite allergens, but it’s impossible to eliminate them entirely. For those who don’t want to rely on allergy medication — or those with difficult-to-control symptoms — the answer may be immunotherapy.
— Injection solutions can be mixed to treat multiple allergies at once, for patients allergic to more than one substance.
— Therapy is usually well covered by health insurance.
— Tolerance lasts years after full therapy is completed.
— Therapy is approved for patients ages 5 and up.
Cons of Allergy Shots:
— Patients may fear or dislike shots.
— Weekly doctor’s appointments are required during the build-up period, followed by monthly visits for 3-5 years.
— Though dangerous allergic reactions are rare, injections should be given at doctor’s office where emergency treatment is available, and patients must be monitored for adverse effects 30 minutes after treatment.
If you’re interested in immunotherapy, talk with a board-certified allergist, who will first perform allergy tests and review your medical history to confirm your allergy diagnosis. Then discuss what is involved in the therapy and how it is expected to help you.
Ask questions. Voice any concerns. Shared decision making is important, as immunotherapy requires a long-term commitment in order to be effective.