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Bust the Dust!

Dust Mite-proof your House to Avoid Allergies

For something so small and totally invisible to the naked eye, dust mites are hard to ignore – especially when you start sneezing, your eyes turning red and itchy, and your nose stuffy and runny.

Dust mites are microscopic bugs that thrive on dead skin cells that humans and animals regularly shed. They are the number one cause of allergic rhinitis, the most common allergy in Singapore and worldwide. An epidemiological survey undertaken by the Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, at the National University Hospital showed a prevalence of 13% of perennial rhinitis in Singapore.1 Children are more susceptible to allergies caused by dust mites. In a research done by Associate Prof Anne Goh, Head of the Paediatric Allergy Department at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, it was shown that over 90% of the children treated at KK for eczema, allergic rhinitis or asthma are allergic to dust mites.2

Just like any other allergies, allergic rhinitis is caused by the body’s hypersensitive reaction when it comes into contact with an offending protein (allergen), such as dust mites and animal hair. Although avoiding allergens and irritants outside of your house is very important, most of the exposure to these irritants actually happens at home, since we spend more time inside our house than anywhere else.

Stop Dust Mite Allergies
To make your home allergy-proof, you may want to start in the bedroom. If possible, use special allergen-proof covers for your pillows and mattresses. Make sure to wash all bed linens in hot water (at least 130 degrees) every two weeks.3 Try to avoid using feather-filled pillows and use blankets and pillow cases and bed sheets made only of synthetic and hypoallergenic materials. Minimise or avoid keeping stuffed toys displayed on your child’s bed. Keep them in the closet or drawers and buy only washable ones.

For the floors, opt for bare or hardwood floors and try to avoid having carpets in the house. Bare floors are easy to clean, and dust mites don’t live on hard wood or tiles. Choose leather furniture over upholstered ones. Minimise the use of heavy drapery, but instead opt for blinds or washable curtains. If you can’t avoid using carpets and rugs, treat them with products that kill dust mite allergens.

Once a week, make sure to vacuum the entire house thoroughly using a certified high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuum cleaner. A HEPA filter is a filter that is capable of capturing particles of 0.3 microns with 99.97% efficiency. It is designed in such a way that all the air drawn into the machine is expelled through the HEPA filter with none of the air leaking past it.4

Dust Mites Fast Facts

• Dust mites prefer temperatures of 70 F or higher and humidity of 75% to 80%.5

• They can’t survive in cold and dry places.

• Dust mites like to eat dead skin from pets and humans.

• Flakes of dead skin in carpeting, beds, and furniture are like snacks for dust mites.5

• The dust mite allergen is the most significant allergic trigger of asthma attacks.

• The average human sloughs off 1/3 ounce (10 grams) of dead skin a week, and cats and dogs create far more dander for dust mites to eat.6

• Nearly 100,000 mites can live in one square yard of carpet.6

• A typical used mattress may have anywhere from 100,000 to 10 million mites inside.

• Ten percent of the weight of a two-year old pillow can be composed of dead mites and their droppings.6

References:

1 http://www.nuh.com.sg/ent/patients-and-visitors/diseases-and-conditions/nose-conditions/nasal-allergy-allergic-rhinitis.html

2 http://sneezywheezy.com/?p=833

3 http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/controlling-dust-and-dander-in-your-home.html

4 http://www.healthyhomestraining.org/rrp/HEPA.htm 5 http://www.webmd.com/allergies/guide/dust-allergies 6 http://www.ehso.com/ehshome/dustmites.php

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Posted by ezyhealth on Feb 7 2013. Filed under Lifestyle. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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