What are dust mite allergies?

Dust mites are tiny insects that are scientifically known as Dermatophagoides. These insects cause allergic reactions in susceptible humans, resulting in hay fever, asthma and other respiratory symptoms. Dust mite allergy is the most common cause of year-round allergy and asthma in the United States. Millions of Americans have dust mite allergy. Dust mites are found in most areas of the world.

Allergy Problems Spotlight

Symptoms of dust mite allergy in humans develop through breathing and touching waste products of the mites. Dust mite allergies develop from exposure to proteins present in dust mite excretions. These proteins act as allergens (substances that can cause an immune-system response) and result in production of the immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibody. IgE brings about an allergic inflammatory response.

The signs and symptoms of dust mite allergies can last as long as the exposure to the mites. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to completely eliminate exposure to this insect. The allergy symptoms vary among individuals. Some people have no symptoms at all; whereas others may have runny or stuffy nose, itchy watery eyes, sneezing, wheezing, coughing, chest tightness and shortness of breath, which may pose a risk of more serious breathing problems and infection.

Fortunately, dust mite allergies can be treated successfully with medications and environmental control.

Left untreated, dust mite allergies may lead to severe asthma and respiratory distress or failure. Seek prompt medical care if you have difficulty controlling the symptoms of runny nose, sneezing, wheezing or coughing. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for serious symptoms, such as sweating and severe difficulty breathing, which may be combined with pale or blue lips and rapid heart rate.

SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of dust mite allergies?

Dust mite allergies cause inflammation of the nasal passages and may contribute to asthma, which may result in a number of symptoms. The symptoms can very in intensity among individuals and may occur daily or less frequently. However, at any time the asthma symptoms may become severe.... Read more about dust mite allergiessymptoms

CAUSES

What causes dust mite allergies?

Dust mite allergies originate from the dust mites themselves (Dermatophagoides family). Dust mites live and feed on skin cells shed by humans and animals that are present in dust. Dust found in the inner layers of furniture cushions, carpets and bed-linen fibers provides a perfect habitat for dust mites. The mites feed on skin cells and consequently produce waste products. It is the waste from dust mites that causes allergic symptoms in susceptible people. For this reason, dust mite allergies occur most frequently in dust mite–allergic people who inhale these particles frequently. In children, high levels of exposure to dust... Read more about dust mite allergiescauses

TREATMENTS

How are dust mite allergies treated?

Treatment of dust mite allergies begins with seeking medical care from your health care provider. To determine whether you are allergic to dust mites, you will be asked questions about your symptoms and when they occur.... Read more about dust mite allergiestreatments

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Allergies and the Immune System, Allergies