Indoor Allergies—Part I and II


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Indoor Allergies—Part I and II

October 15, 2014


Indoor Allergies—Part I


What are indoor allergies?

Indoor allergies are those allergy symptoms that are triggered by allergens that predominantly exist in an indoor environment.


Are indoor allergies worse during a particular time of the year?

Yes and no. Most people with indoor allergies have problems all year long. However, many of these people notice a worsening of their symptoms in the fall and winter.


What are some of the allergens that make up “indoor allergies”

The major components of indoor allergens include dust mites, molds, cockroach and animal proteins.


What are the symptoms of indoor allergies?

As with other allergies, indoor allergens can cause a wide variety of symptoms. These include respiratory allergies such as hay fever, sinus problems and asthma. Also involved can be skin symptoms such as eczema (also known as atopic dermatitis), and hives. Less common are symptoms of angioedema and/or anaphylaxis.


Should I be tested for indoor allergies?

Though you don’t need to know your specific allergy triggers in order to take medication, if you want to pursue treatment that doesn’t involve drugs, you typically do need to know what your specific allergies are.


Can indoor allergies be treated?

Yes. In fact, these allergies can be quite successfully treated with allergen avoidance, medication, allergy injections and even some of the newer biologic agents. Those people with more severe allergies will often require multiple modalities of treatment.


What can you do about allergen avoidance?

There are several measures that you can undertake to decrease you exposure to specific allergens. The first step is to understand the nature of the allergen. One of the most common indoor allergens includes dust mites, so let’s start there. There are many studies that have looked at how to decrease dust mite exposure and by reducing these exposures, one can see significant medical benefits.


What are dust mites?

Dust mites are microscopic arthropods (related to insects) that live in dust. The two major dust mite species in the U.S. include Dermataphagoides farinae and Dermatophagoides pteronnysinus. These creatures do not cause allergy through a bite, but through the proteins that they make called Der-f-1 and Der-p-1, respectively.  Humans can become allergic to these proteins and this allergy will cause the symptoms or diseases noted above.



Indoor Allergies—Part II


In our previous article, we reviewed indoor allergies and the symptoms that they cause. One of the major components of Indoor allergies are dust mites and the proteins that they produce. Humans can become allergic to these proteins and this can lead to allergic illnesses.


I keep a clean house.  Are Dust Mites still a problem for me?

It is a common misconception that the presence of dust mites is a reflection of someone’s housekeeping skills. This is not the case. Even a relatively clean home can have a high dust mite concentration. This is because dust mites are ubiquitous and their presence is mainly a reflection of the humidity and other environmental factors. Though aggressive cleaning with dusting and vacuuming can be greatly helpful, other environmental control measures can also help with dust mite allergies. This includes making changes to the WAY that you clean as well as your choice of bedding, decor and other furnishings.


Can I get rid of Dust Mites?

Though the thought of living with insects can be distasteful, most of us live with dust mites without difficulty. Dust mites do not bite humans or cause disease unless you are allergic to their protein.  So, where as it may be useful to get rid of dust mites, it is also important to focus on eradicating the protein that they leave behind.


How can I control Dust Mite Allergens?

There are many steps that one may take to reduce exposure to dust mite protein.  Using just one of these measures is rarely useful. Instead, you have to make several changes to your lifestyle in order to achieve benefits.  These lifestyle changes include using appropriate mattress and pillow protectors, using laundering your bedding with the right methods, removing dust mite reservoirs from the bedroom, reducing the humidity levels as well as many more options. Talk to your allergist about which of these measures will be helpful to you.


I see so many products available on the market, are there some that are more helpful than others? Are there some that are actually harmful?

Fortunately, there are many suppliers and vendors who have created products that can be useful in reducing dust mite exposures. Unfortunately, there are some of these products that create more harm than help. Whereas HEPA filters and de-humidifiers can be quite useful, Electrostatic precipitators can create ozone which can be a problem for those with respiratory issues. In the same fashion, protein denaturing sprays can be very helpful for those with allergies but acaricides (agents that actually kill dust mites) sometimes can cause greater problems. Again, the best approach is to work with your allergist to create an allergen avoidance plan that is both safe and effective.




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