What is a Dust Allergy?

Achoo!  Darn that dust allergy!  Have you or someone you love ever uttered these words?  We blame dust allergy for many things:

  • Sneezing
  • wheezing
  • itchy, watery eyes
  • coughing
  • stuffy nose
  • runny nose

But exactly what is dust allergy?  Let’s take a look.

Dust Allergy Isn’t Allergy to Dust

To understand dust allergy, you need to understand dust.  “Dust” is a mixture of particles.  The specific composition varies by location.  David Layton and Paloma Beamer, professors of environmental policy at the University of Arizona did a study of dust in the United States to try to figure out what is in the stuff.  It was gross.  As a rule, they found household dust is made up of:

  • tiny bits of shed human skin
  • bits of animal fur and skin
  • decomposing insects
  • food debris
  • fibers from clothes, bedding and other fabrics
  • tracked-in soil
  • soot
  • residual particles from smoking and cooking

Some samples even contained lead, arsenic and  DDT.  Makes you wonder where they were collecting samples, but it was just households in Midwest states and Sacramento California.

So, you don’t really have an allergy to dust, you have an allergy to one or more components of dust.  Most commonly the decomposing insects in the form of dust mites.

dust mites cause dust allergy
Dust Mite

Dust Mites and Dust Mite Allergy

Ever wonder about dust mites?  They are microscopic creatures related to spiders.  Dust mites feed on shed human skin (one of the components of dust). They don’t bite, but their gut contains a protein that they use to digest our skin. This protein (der f1) is the source of the “dust” allergy.  Every time the dust mite poops, a bit of this protein is excreted along with the fecal pellet. Gross right?  The hard cuticle that covers the mite body also contains the protein.  When the dust mite dies, it doesn’t create any additional allergen in the form of fecal matter but it does create an explosion of allergen as the body decomposes.  The allergy-causing protein from the gut and the cuticle are released as the mite rots.  Even grosser.   So many people with dust allergy actually have dust mite allergy.

Pet Allergy

Another major component of household dust are those little bits of animal skin and fur.  Those generally come from household pets.  Certain furred animals have proteins in their saliva and urine that cause allergic reactions in humans.  The proteins most commonly found attached to the skin and fur in house dust are from cats and dogs.  Horses are also a source of allergen, but few people keep a horse in their house.   As the animal grooms its coat or empties its bladder, bits of the saliva or urine stick to skin and fur.  When these are shed they become part of the dust soup.

Control the Allergens to Control the Allergy

So, controlling your dust allergy is all about knowing what in the dust triggers your reaction and then reducing your exposure to that trigger.  You can visit an allergist for testing.  Skin challenge or simple blood tests can pull back the veil on your triggers.  In the case of dust mite or pet allergy, immunotherapy can help.

You can reduce your exposure to the allergens in dust by reducing your exposure to dust.  Frequent cleaning with damp rags and vacuuming with a HEPA filtered vacuum machine reduces dust.

You can also use allergy control products.  The Top 5 Allergy Control Products will give you the most relief for the dollar and effort spent.  You should check them out.  Not sure where to start?  Call The Allergy Store at 1-800-771-2246.  We can help.

So, next time you curse that dust allergy, remember it isn’t the dust. It’s what’s in the dust that matters.

Til next time

Cheryl

 

 

 

 

 

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Can Allergies Cause Chest Pains?

Do you have pain in the chest this Valentine’s Day?  That feeling might not be a broken heart.  Chest pain is a symptom of allergies and allergy-related conditions.  Pain in the center of the chest that feels like squeezing along with pain in the arms, back, neck or jaw can be heart attack.  That’s when you need to call 911.  But if you have a persistent tightness in the larger chest area, it may be a condition related to allergies.

Allergy Induced Asthma

Asthma Cigarettes – Seriously?

Uncontrolled allergies can lead to asthma.  Asthma inflames your airways, makes them narrow,  and fills them with mucous.  This makes breathing difficult.  You may hear a wheezing noise as you breathe.  You may also cough.

During an asthma attack, your chest may feel tight.  Some people describe it as a feeling of something pressing down on the chest.

The repeated coughing and gasping for air associated with asthma can cause damage to the scalene muscles.  These muscles are located on the side of the neck and attach the neck vertebrae to the 1st and 2nd ribs. Scalene muscle damage causes pain in the upper chest that may or may not radiate down the arm.

Medication and allergy avoidance control asthma.  Talk to your doctor and if you have asthma, know how to prepare for an asthma attack.

Allergy Medication Side Effects

Thatpills for allergies pill you swallowed to relieve your allergy symptoms can cause chest pain.  If you take allergy medications that include the decongestant pseudoephedrine you know how well it works.

What you might not know is that tightness in the chest is one of the many side effects of pseudoephedrine.

Talk to your doctor about alternative medications that do not contain this ingredient if you are sensitive.

Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis

People that are sensitive to dust and other inhaled allergens can experience Hypersensitivity pneumonitis if they do not control their exposure.  This can be caused by living or working in dusty areas and has even been associated with molds coming from the HVAC system.  The primary symptom is tightness and pain in the chest.  It is caused by repeatedly inhaling allergens and can cause serious scarring of the lungs.  Reversible if caught early; if not can lead to pulmonary fibrosis.

Control Your Allergies!

If you have allergies, asthma, scalene muscle damage or hypersensitivity pneumonitis you know it isn’t a pain in the neck, it’s a pain in the chest and it can be serious.  Talk to your doctor and then talk to The Allergy Store about controlling your exposure to allergens.

Frequent washing, using allergen proof bedding, and allergen reducing products in your home can all reduce your exposure to allergens.  We can’t mend a broken heart, but we can control allergens.  We’d love to help you!

Til Next Time!

Cheryl

 

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Is a Winter Cold or Winter Allergies?

winter allergies or winter cold why are you sneezing

 

Have you had sinus congestion, sneezing or wheezing since last fall?  Does it seem that you’ve got a cold that just won’t go away or just keeps coming back? Every year kids get blamed for bringing home a constant stream of colds from school or daycare and making everyone in the house sick, but the real culprit may be winter allergies; not recurring colds.

Winter Cold or Winter Allergies?

It’s easy to think that you’ve got a nasty cold that you just can’t shake.  Sometimes it’s hard to figure out if its cold or allergies.  How do you know?

Fever.  The first sign of a cold is a fever.  So take your temperature.  A cold will cause a very mild fever.  Flu will cause a high fever.  Allergies will never cause a fever. If you have a fever you don’t have allergies.  If you don’t have a fever, then you may have allergies.

Symptom Onset.  Another difference between winter allergies and winter colds is how the symptoms appear.  Allergy and flu symptoms come on suddenly.   Cold symptoms come on gradually, usually starting with a sore throat.

Duration.  With colds, allergies and the flu, the symptoms last for different periods.  A winter cold will last anywhere from 7 to 10 days, whether you treat the symptoms or not.  After a week and a half, your symptoms should be subsiding.  The symptoms of the flu last longer and can leave you feeling weak for weeks.  Allergy symptoms will not go away until you remove the offending allergen or stop the action of the histamines and leukotrienes. If you’ve had symptoms for weeks, it is probably allergies.

Common Winter Allergens

When you think of seasonal allergies you probably think of hayfever in the spring or fall.  kids get winter allergies tooPlants are the major source of outdoor allergens in the warmer months, but indoor allergens cause problems in winter.   This is because doors and windows are closed, reducing fresh air and increasing allergen levels and we spend more time  inside.  Dust mites, molds and pets are the most common indoor allergens.

To learn more about these allergens and how to reduce or eliminate them from your home, read our article Can’t Shake that Winter Cold?  It May be Winter Allergies.

Til Next Time!

Cheryl

Allergy free living - allergystore.com

PS – Get your free copy of Cheryl’s book “You Can Do It! Allergy Free Living”. Click here to download.

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