Image via flickr by Gilles San Martin
If you have baggy, red eyes or cold symptoms all year long, keep in mind that those symptoms may have an expected source: dust mites. Although these tiny insects do not bite us, they view our discarded dead skin cells as food, which motivates them to infest our homes. Because they are so small, even our best attempts at cleaning may leave us aggravated by their presence as we sweep them up into the air and breathe them in.
Perhaps you are used to having colds in the winter when they go around in the office. If you have cold or flu symptoms all year long, and they seem to affect others in your house as well, it may be time to look elsewhere for the source. Cold and flu symptoms are a side effect of dust mite exposure, so the last time you swept the floor or emptied your vacuum contents without a mask, you may have gotten a nose-full, enough to make you feel sick.
If your nose or throat seems to have an uncomfortable tickle, nose rubbing can be a sign of a mite infestation, especially for the younger crowd. Asthma flare-ups may seem uncommonly bad when they are exacerbated by the presence of mites in your home.
If you are prone to allergies, you may notice that you have itching, hives, and redness after exposure to dust mites, especially if you are allergic to seafood since dust mites are distant relatives to animals such as lobsters. They share the same Phylum, which is the next category down from Kingdom in scientific nomenclature, so they are not close cousins, but the relation is enough to cause many people to be allergic to both. You are also at higher risk of significant symptoms from dust mite exposure if you are a child or a senior citizen. So if you are a parent or you are taking care of an elderly person, it’s essential to recognize this as a potential cause of health problems.
Even a small annoyance can end up being a significant relief when you find its cause and fix it. Perhaps you attributed bags under your eyes to natural aging or lack of sleep. But dust mite infestation can cause bags under your eyes and red eyes as well. Treating your infestation could result in looking like you got beauty sleep, without any age-reduction serum.
Chances are you already made efforts to cleaning your home. But that is not a good enough reason to believe there are no dust mites present. Dust can accumulate in places that are hard to access. You may not be aware of the amount of dust that has accumulated under your bed, between the headboard or the wall that can not be conveniently reached by the vacuum. Being thorough and moving furniture when you clean can reduce your risk of mite exposure.
If you cover your bed and pillows with mattress covers designed to prevent spills or bugs can have numerous benefits for your home and keep you from having to replace your bedding frequently. When you wash your sheets and comforters, be sure to switch the dial to “hot” on the washing machine.
If you have a dust mite allergy, using a face mask and a vacuum with a HEPA filter may not be enough, but can help. Having a HEPA filter on your vacuum can prevent and keep allergens contained and out of your home. HEPA stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Air; the name comes from the excellent quality mesh. Dust mites are so small they can be seen with the naked eye, but they can be trapped in the mesh of a HEPA filter. Even with a lot of mites collected, you might not notice them, as their bodies are transparent. HEPA face masks are also available, and you can wear them as you sweep, vacuum, or dust to avoid these invisible pests.
Dust mites thrive at room temperature, but nothing colder. You most likely won’t have an issue with dust mites if you keep your bedroom under 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, bringing the humidity level down to around 50 percent can help since dust mites since they prefer humidity levels between 70 to 80 percent. Just don’t lower the humidity too much, as dry air could increase your risk of itchy skin and infections.
If you have allergies or asthma, you may not want to take on the challenge of stirring up dust yourself. After all, this could trigger a rash at best, and at worst, could make it difficult for you to breathe. The longer a home goes without dusting, the dustier it gets. A home with bare floors is easier to clean than if it had carpets, but if you enjoy having carpet, don’t be afraid to reach out for help with maintaining the safety and comfort of your living space.
Dust mites don’t bite, but many other critters do, so it’s essential to have a doctor evaluate any severe rash, skin condition, or other symptoms. They can identify the cause for you and determine whether you need to take an antihistamine or seek other treatments. Begin the steps necessary to prevent the inhalation of microscopic mites if you haven’t already.