Okay truth be told, the monsters are quite small, but there are millions of them – actually, the average person shares a bed with over two million of them. The monsters can be found everywhere in the house, but they especially bedrooms and other parts of the home with upholstered furniture, carpets, rugs, curtains and soft toys. They have eight legs, prefer dark places and they are better known as house dust mites.
“House dust mites might just be small animals, but they are also the most common trigger of indoor allergies, causing symptoms such as blocked or runny nose, repetitive sneezing, breathing difficulties and eye irritation, leading to recurrent impairment of sleep resulting in daytime sleepiness and fatigue”, says international renowned allergy expert at ALK Jørgen Nedergaard Larsen.
The monsters are eating your skin
House dust mites thrive in our homes because we provide them with both humidity and food. They prefer warm, moist environments where they can feed on our dead skin cells. They are generally harmless in the sense that they do not carry or transmit diseases and they do not bite, sting or burrow into our skin.
However, house dust mites are still a major source of allergy for people all over the world, causing runny noses, sneezing and teary eyes which can further lead to difficulties sleeping and even asthma.
If you recognise some of the mentioned symptoms and feel the impact on your life all year round, it is possible that you suffer from allergy caused by house dust mites.
“If you suspect house dust mite allergy and have not been diagnosed yet, you should consult your doctor for a test and further clarification of your symptoms”, says Jørgen Nedergaard Larsen.
Your doctor can help fight the monsters
Your doctor will probably ask about the history of your symptoms and conduct a skin prick test that can show if you have house dust mite allergy. A prober diagnosis is an important first step in your fight against the symptoms.
“If you suffer from house dust mite allergy, your quality of life can be improved significantly when you start to receive the right treatment. This is one very good reason for getting treated, however another one, equally important, is the fact that untreated allergy is considered a risk factor in the development of asthma,” says Jørgen Nedergaard Larsen.
Monsters don't like medicine
Or actually that is not strictly true because mites do not care whether your symptoms are controlled by medicine, but you might feel a world of difference. And luckily, 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.
The right treatment option
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.
And once you are receiving the right treatment, the monsters can no longer play tricks on you while they are lurking around waiting for their treat.