Dust Mite Allergy: best tips how to treat it

Dust mite allergy can be a very serious and annoying issue if you score high on this allergy. Dust mite symptoms can lead to isolation by avoiding certain public places or households from your friends and family. Luckily, there are several options for dust mite allergy treatment. You don’t need to accept your symptoms! There are good treatments for you available! I have struggled with dust mite allergy since childhood. In this blog I share with you my best practices and how I deal with dust mite allergy and treatment for dust mite allergy.

What is dust mite allergy?

Let me first start with explaining what a dust mite allergy is. It is an allergic reaction to the feces from the dust mite. Dust mites are tiny little bugs related to ticks and spiders. You can’t see them without a microscope. Dust mites eat skin cells from people and they are mostly seen in warm and humid environments. In your house you can find them in your mattress, blankets, sheets, pillows, carpets, wool, fabric curtains, clothing and upholstered furniture. If you have a dust mite allergy, the immune system sees the feces from the dust mite as an intruder and overreacts. This results in the symptoms I cover below. Like I mentioned before, the good news is that there is developed dust mite allergy treatment.

What are dust mite allergy symptoms?

There are several dust mite allergy symptoms. My symptoms were all of the symptoms I mention below. I also developed asthma due to untreated and not-acknowledged allergy.

This dust mite allergy reaction can easily be mistaken for hay fever like sneezing and a runny nose. You might experience:

  • Red or watery eyes
  • Headache
  • Cough
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy nose and itching in mouth or throat
  • Pressure in your forehead and nasal cavity
  • Swelling under your eyes
  • Always wanting to rub your nose
  • Nasal congestion

Allergy and asthma

If you also have asthma you might experience below dust mite symptoms:

  • Wheezing that can become worse if you have a cold or the flu
  • Heavy breathing
  • Wheezing sound when you are exhaling
  • Pain on your chest
  • Sleeping issues due to lack of breath, wheezing and coughing

The dust mite symptoms can vary from mild to severe. Mild symptoms are watery eyes, runny nose and sneezing if you are exposed to areas where dust mites thrive.

Chronic symptoms

If you have severe symptoms the symptoms become chronic. Symptoms in this case are continually sneezing, coughing, feeling pressure in your face, eczema or asthma attack. I developed asthma as well because my symptoms firstly were not seen as an allergy. The doctor thought it was hay fever and it would go away by itself. If the doctor would have run blood tests in an earlier stage and acknowledged the symptoms, my asthma would not be developed as such. I also had difficulty breathing all the time and had symptoms like you are having a cold or the flu 24/7.

So first it started with bronchitis. Again I didn’t got proper medication because of this old-fashioned doctor who thought I just needed to grow over it. And guess what? I didn’t grew over it and the breathing issues and allergy symptoms became more severe. What ‘saved’ me was a new doctor who examined me, took blood tests and started treatment right away.

I would highly recommend to see a doctor if you can find yourself in the symptoms above. If you indeed have this allergy, with the right treatment you can avoid more severe allergy symptoms and even asthma. Below you see my inhalation Powder I use for the asthma.

Asthma: Ventolin Diskus inhalation Powder
asthma: Ventolin Diskus Inhalation Powder

When do you have higher risk of developing dust mite allergy?

  • Allergy runs in the family. If more family members are having allergies, you are at higher risk of developing a dust mite allergy.
  • High exposure to dust mites. There is a higher risk if you were exposed to high levels of dust mites, especially in your childhood.
  • Being a child or young adult. During childhood or as young adult you may develop more easily this allergy.

In my case I met all 3 criteria. My allergy began in my childhood. Both of my grandparents and parents were having mild symptoms. My parents also had mild symptoms. In our household it was a ‘dust mite paradise’ thanks to the woolen carpets, curtains, a lot of stuff and furniture. Therefore, it is not exactly a surprise that I inherited this allergy.

Can dust mite allergy go away?

No. It is not possible to be cured entirely of this allergy. There will always be dust mites even though you minimize the exposure to dust mites. If your environment contains a minimum of dust mites, your allergic reactions will be less severe. It depends on how much you remain in a dust mite friendly environment.

Dust mite allergy treatment

Blood test results

If you have a lot of the symptoms I mentioned earlier, than I would advise you to go the doctor. You can ask to run a few blood tests to know if you have dust mite allergy. Once you receive the blood test results, you can start with the first precautions. You can check my blood test results below. It is written in Dutch. “Huisstofmijt’ means dust mite. I score the highest level ( klasse: 4) on dust mite as you can see.

Dust mite allergy blood test results
Dust mite allergy blood test results

Tip: There are different blood tests for allergies (at least here in the Netherlands). At the doctor’s practice I didn’t get an extensive blood test like this one from this image. This means you don’t get so many substances tested. Therefore, I asked for a test where they test more substances. I needed to go the nearest hospital for this blood test. As you can see they test is not only dust mite but allergies for animals and food as well.

This blood test results dates from 2018. Because of the treatment I started, I needed to have recent blood tests results. Of course there were taken tests in my childhood as well eventually so I already knew that I was highly allergic to dust mites.

Dust mite allergy home treatment

Once it was clear that I had dust mite allergy my parents got instructions how to treat this allergy at home. The goal of this home treatment is to reduce the amount of dust mites. I will write down the remedies at home below. These precautions are important to improve your health and prevention of more severe symptoms.

Dust mite allergy bedding

  • Replacing of bed linen: this is really important. Anti-allergic and dust mite bed linen is key to a good night sleep. This means a new anti- allergic pillow cover and mattress cover.

Tip: if you have a health care insurance you may ask if they can re-reimburse the amount you pay for the pillow and mattress cover. I got these special anti- allergic mattress and pillow cover paid by my health care insurance. The pillow and the blanket were partially re-imbursed by the health care insurance.You can also try to claim these expenses from the Tax authority if you don’t have healthcare insurance or it isn’t covered by your insurance. In the Netherlands you may claim expenses for allergy bedding every year if not covered by your insurance.

Sanitize: reduce or avoid exposure to allergens

Removing of carpets and curtains in the house

One of dust mites favorite environment. We had a lot of woolen carpets and curtains. We removed everything. Under the carpets we had old wooden floors and this was also not ideal at that time but back then it was the best alternative. You can replace the carpets for example by hard flooring like laminate, parquet flooring or tiles. The most important is you remove every fabric which contains a lot of dust mites.

Removing and replacing of curtains

Our curtains were replaced by cotton washable curtains. For curtains it is important to avoid wool, silk or fabric blends. Best to choose for cotton, linen or fabric or synthetic blended fabric. Ideal is to vacuum clean the curtains twice a month and wash the curtains every 3 months.

Buy or get furniture with a smooth surface

Dust the furniture every week with a wet towel. If you have furniture that contains fabric, make sure to vacuum clean it every month.

Vacuum clean regularly

If you vacuum clean on a regular base you can remove a lot of dust mites. I would recommend a vacuum cleaner with HEPA filter (High-efficiency particulate arrestance filter). You can buy one on Amazon and in the Netherlands on dogs we vacuum cleaned every day. I know every doctor would say to get rid of animals in the house if you are allergic but to me they were like my kids so I managed.

Remove not necessary home decor and accessories

If you like your rooms to be full of stuff I have bad news for you. All these home decorations are dust catchers and will not improve your allergy symptoms. In my case we bought several closed cupboards and removed a lot of home decorations. Books were stored in a closed cupboard and nice table ware were put in a display cabinet. This was the perfect start to de-clutter. I think Amazon or on the Dutch online store

nasal shower allergy
nasal shower allergy

Allergy nasal spray

It is best to use nasal spray with an anti-inflammatory included. Normally you need to use this nasal spray daily for the best result. Consistent use is important for a good effect. Nasal sprays often contains corticosteroids to help if you have a stuffy nose. Ask your doctor or allergy specialist to get the nasal spray you need. A nasal spray often has a good effect on eye symptoms as well.

Tip: I have used nasal spray for a while and I would not recommend to use a nasal spray for a long period. Why? because you can get addicted to it. Meaning you can get so used to the nice feeling of an open nose that you use it all the time even if it might not be necessary. The corticosteroids in the nasal spray are also not very healthy if you use it for years. I still have nasal spray for ’emergencies’. So if I am going on vacation or to households where I expect my allergy will pop-up. I take the nasal spray with me just in case. My own house hold is so allergy-friendly now that I don’t need nasal spray on a daily base.

If you have insurance you might check if they cover the costs!

Allergy pills

Allergy pills are aka antihistamine pills. The body responds to an allergic reaction by releasing histamine. Histamine is mostly responsible for your allergic reaction. By taking these anti histamine pills your body will not respond so intense to the allergy. Anti histamine pills are mainly used for symptoms like nasal congestion, sneezing and red or watery eyes.

Some antihistamines should be taken at the time you are exposed to the substance causing your symptoms, or some time before you expect this to happen. Always consult with your doctor about using symptom medications such as antihistamine or corticosteroids.

You can buy anti histamine pills without description in the store. In my case these pills from the local store were not helping me so I got these pills below on doctor’s prescription. When I still had my dogs I used these pills every day. I know you shouldn’t keep animals if you are allergic and I would not recommend it at all. However, because of my love for them I made certain sacrifices regarding medication etc.

If you have insurance you might check if they cover the costs!

allergy pills dust mite allergy
allergy pills dust mite allergy

Dust mite allergy immunotherapy

Did you know dust mite allergy immunotherapy exists? Are your symptoms severe and does it affect your daily life? Then perhaps it is time to discuss with your doctor or allergy specialist if immunotherapy is an option for you. You don’t need to accept the symptoms anymore. So if you still have a lot of symptoms even though you use nasal spray and allergy pills it is maybe time to take action! Immunotherapy treats the cause of the allergy.

Allergy immunotherapy is an allergy treatment that causes your immune system’s response to the substance you are allergic to to change. By exposing your immune system to the (right amount of) substance that triggers the allergic reaction, your body gets used to it and, in the case of a respiratory allergy, you may experience less to no discomfort from a runny nose, itchy eyes, coughing, wheezing or shortness of breath.

Tip: allergy immunotherapy is also possible if you are allergic to, for example, insect venom from bees or wasps.

immunotherapy for allergy
immunotherapy for allergy

What to expect?

Total treatment takes 3 to 5 years. Your body needs this period to build up tolerance to the substance you are allergic to.

Allergy shots

Immunotherapy via allergy shots/ injections always takes place with your treating doctor or allergy specialist. Treatment with injections has an introductory phase and a maintenance phase. During the introductory phase, injections are administered and the dose is gradually increased. When the highest dose has been reached, the maintenance phase begins, with one injection being given each time. This form of immunotherapy is available for people who suffer from a severe allergy due to grass pollen, tree pollen, house dust mites or cats.

immunotherapy dust mite allergy
immunotherapy dust mite allergy

In my case I needed to visit the hospital every week to get an allergy shot for approximately 2-3 months. After the shot I needed to wait in the waiting room for half an hour just in case an allergic reaction would appear due to the shot. After this introductory phase I only need to get an allergy shot once a month. I get the highest dose now. I never had any side-effect. Okay, only one: a little bump on my arm for a few days due to the physical reaction. Sometimes it could tickle a bit but this could be neglected.

What has dust mite allergy immunotherapy done for me?

I started 3 years ago with immunotherapy (allergy shots) for dust mite allergy and I am very happy that I made this choice. It is time-consuming but the reward is worth the time. I don’t need my anti histamine pills and nasal spray anymore in daily life. And I can even visit friends who do not have an allergy-friendly household. I am still in my treatment for the next 2 years to make sure the symptoms will be less and less. If you are disciplined and committed than this treatment is really worth trying.

I am so satisfied with this treatment that I started immunotherapy for my cat allergy as well. I have always wanted to work with animals professionally and even passed the exams for vet assistant. Unfortunately, this dream came to an end due to my symptoms. If I would have started in my childhood with immunotherapy there would have been a chance to work as a vet assistant. So for me this treatment means a lot to me.

Allergy tablets

This is another immunotherapy treatment. Fast dissolving melting tablets that you put under the tongue once a day. Currently, the tablet is available for the treatment of allergy to dust mites, for grass pollen and/or tree pollen allergy (intended for patients with hay fever symptoms).

I was given this option as well. However, my doctor said that these tablets haven’t been that long on the market. This makes it not very certain if the treatment will be as efficient like the proven ‘old fashioned’ allergy shots method. I also asked other people who are using these tablets. They mentioned side-effects like swollen tongue and mouth, tingly and irritation of the mouth and tongue. Other side-effects were increasing of headache. And last but not least, they easily forgot to take the tablet everyday. It is very important for the best result to use the tablet everyday.

How much does immunotherapy allergy costs?

The costs of immunotherapy allergy can vary. In the Netherlands the injections cost twice a year an amount of 506 euro’s. So 1.012 euro every year. My health care insurance covers the most part. Before you start treatment the doctor will run both blood tests and breathing tests. The amount was 400 euro’s. This was also paid by the health care insurance. Ask your doctor or specialist for the costs before you start. If you have a health care insurance, ask if and how much the cover.

Best advice to you!

If you have symptoms that are manageable in your daily life the precautions in your household are maybe enough. Or your symptoms are manageable with nasal spray and allergy pills.

However, if your daily life is influenced tremendously by your symptoms I would recommend immunotherapy.

If your friends and family don’t take your symptoms seriously, than stop explaining over and over again to them. Some people simply don’t understand how miserable you can be from an allergy. If you go to visit family or friends be honest about your allergy. In my case my parents and sister would always clean and ventilate the living room if I would visit them. Some friends would be so kind to not smoke inside the house. If your friends are not that flexible you could shorten the duration of your visit. And you could use your nasal spray or allergy pills before the visit. Or you could invite them at your place. Last but not least you could do outside activities with your friends like hiking, or go shopping in public places.