Does vacuuming and dusting make you sneeze and your nose run? You could have a dust allergy. Dust can contain dust mites, mold, cockroach droppings, and animal dander that make you itch, sneeze and wheeze. There is no cure for dust allergies but there are many ways to reduce your symptoms.
How Will I Know If I Have Dust Allergies?
You may notice these dust allergy symptoms while you are dusting the house or raking leaves:
Sneezing or coughing
Blue-colored circles under your eyes
Cheek or facial pressure
Hives, which look like raised areas or welts
Red, watery eyes
Itchy nose, eyes, mouth, throat or skin
Mucus dripping down the back of your nose into your throat (postnasal drip)
Stuffed up or runny nose with a thin, watery discharge
Wheezing from asthma
Your doctor can determine whether your symptoms are due to a dust allergy or other conditions, such as a cold. To make a diagnosis, your doctor will perform a physical exam and discuss your medical history and symptoms. You can help with the diagnosis by knowing when and how often symptoms occur and what activities you are involved in around the time that you notice symptoms.
You may also have allergy tests. Skin testing involves pricking the skin with a tiny amount of allergy causing substances and watching for a reaction. A blood test measures antibodies, which are substances in your blood that cause allergies.
Who Gets Dust Allergies?
Dust allergies show up most often in children and young adults. You have a higher risk of dust allergies if allergies run in your family and if you have contact with a high level of dust mites, especially as a child.
What Can I Do to Prevent Dust Allergies?
Avoiding dust is an important prevention and treatment measure that can lower your need for medication. Here are some tips to reduce your contact with dust:
Keep indoor humidity levels low, below 55%, by using a dehumidifier if necessary and not using humidifiers and vaporizers. This reduces allergens in dust, such as mold and dust mites.
Have someone else dust, sweep, and vacuum the home frequently. Wear a dust mask if you must do these activities.
Use a furnace filter and air purifier designed for allergies.
Apply a cool wet compress to your face when you start to feel symptoms.
Use "mite-proof" covers on mattresses and pillows. Vacuum mattresses and wash linens frequently in hot water.
Install blinds and hardwood floors instead of drapes and carpeting to minimize dust collection.
The idea of a dust-free house is not realistic, but you can cut down on the amount of dust by sticking to the strategies listed above.
What Are the Best Remedies for Dust Allergy Relief?
If you still have symptoms despite prevention measures, you may need medications. All medications can have side effects, so check with your doctor before trying any medications.
Here are the types of medications you use for allergy symptoms:
Antihistamines to relieve itching, sneezing, nasal congestion, and irritated eyes
Decongestants to reduce nasal congestion
Corticosteroids to reduce and prevent nasal congestion and itchiness
Nasal saline sprays to wash out nasal allergens and relieve stuffiness
Montelukast (Singulair), a leukotriene modifier, to relieve allergy-induced asthma and many other allergy symptoms
If you’re having trouble finding relief from allergy medications, you may want to consider a course of allergy shots. Allergy shots, or allergy immunotherapy, is a serious time commitment but can significantly decrease your allergy symptoms in the long run. Your primary care doctor or allergist can determine the specific allergens that trigger your symptoms and design your immunotherapy treatment.
When Should I Call the Doctor?
Call your doctor if you have bothersome symptoms of dust allergies. Your doctor will recommend the best treatment plan to control your symptoms and prevent problems, including asthma attacks.
In addition, call your doctor if:
You have medication side effects
Your treatment plan isn’t working well
You have unexplained symptoms such as a fever, which is a symptom of infection