If you experience recurrent impairment of sleep and have a tendency of feeling a bit ill most of the year, it might be because of allergy caused by house dust mites. Many are unaware that they suffer from house dust mite allergy even though it can affect them heavily.
“House dust mites may be very small animals, but they are the most common trigger of indoor allergies, causing symptoms such as blocked nose, repetitive sneezing, breathing difficulties and watery eyes, all of which can lead to poor and interrupted sleep resulting in daytime sleepiness and fatigue. ”, says international renowned allergy expert at ALK Jørgen Nedergaard Larsen
The mites live in common household places such as beddings, mattresses, and carpeting , and although there are things you can do to minimise the amount of mites – see fact box – it is not possible to eliminate them completely.
Allergy affects both sleep and quality of life
One study has shown that allergy symptoms can impair sleep significantly and that the degree of impairment is comparable to the severity of the symptoms. Sleep problems like these can cause fatigue and daytime sleepiness, as well as decreased productivity at work or school, and further lead to impaired learning and memory, depression, and ultimately reduce your quality of life.
The symptoms to look for are:
- blocked or runny nose
- itching and watering eyes
- inflamed eyelids
- shortness of breath
- tight chest
- coughing and wheezing
If you experience some of these symptoms all year round you might be suffering house dust mite allergy and could benefit from consulting your doctor for further clarification. Your doctor can help with diagnosis and the right treatment that can relieve your symptoms.
Diagnosis and treatment are essential
Your doctor will probably start by asking about the history of your symptoms and conduct a skin prick test that can show if you have house dust mite allergy. Once your doctor knows whether you are allergic to house dust mites and has determined the severity of your symptoms, the next step will be to select the most suitable treatment for you.
“In deciding the best treatment for someone who suffers from house dust mite allergy, the intention is to provide a treatment that will reduce the symptoms, including allowing the person to sleep better at night and function better during the day as a result of feeling fully rested again. Furthermore, house dust mite allergy is closely linked to the development of asthma, emphasizing the importance of treating the condition,” says Jørgen Nedergaard Larsen.
Many different treatments can provide relief
There are many options for treating your house dust mite allergy. The options range from over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription symptomatic medicines, to more long-term treatments like allergy immunotherapy. The two overall ways of treatment have both shown to provide relief and put an end to the discomfort and the sensation of feeling ill, but there are some differences:
Symptomatic treatments work while taking the medicine, but have no long-term effect. They reduce the symptoms of allergy, but unlike allergy immunotherapy, do not induce tolerance. Most symptomatic treatments are available over-the-counter (OTC), e.g. in supermarkets or pharmacies. Symptomatic treatments can include antihistamines, nasal and inhaled steroids and decongestants.
Allergy immunotherapy treatment has a long-term effect with sustained improvement, including in the years following treatment. The main difference between symptomatic and immunotherapy treatment is that immunotherapy induces tolerance and alters the natural course of the disease.
Choosing a treatment option that is right for you should be decided in close consultation with your doctor. Influencing factors include the cause of your allergy and how severe your symptoms are.