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 knowing where the dust in your house comes from and 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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Keep My Boyfriend or My Cat?

love-pets-not-allergies
Love your pet and Not the allergies.

So your boyfriend comes to pick you up at your apartment for the first time, stands in the living room and starts to sneeze his head off. Turns out he is allergic to cats. What do you do?

  1. Look for a new boyfriend
  2. Get rid of Ginger your cat
  3. Find a way to keep both

In our experience, we’ve found the vast majority of pet owners who are allergic to their pets, or have friends or family that are, find ways to manage it. That way they don’t have to give up their beloved cat or dog.

Why are you allergic to your pets? First let us say it’s not the smell of the cat urine. It’s actually related to a protein under the dog’s skin. Cats, dogs, horses, rabbits, hamsters and other furred animals have a protein in their saliva and urine that is a common allergen. While the allergic reaction is the same, the protein is different for each different animal. But these individual proteins are very similar. Many people that are allergic to cats are also allergic to dogs, rabbits and horses.

How do you deal with the allergens? If you have allergies, is an aquarium full of fish your only option for animal companionship? Fish can’t snuggle up with you on the couch.

For many years allergists and other physicians routinely  recommended that people with allergies of any sort not have any pets in the home. Often, that is just not practical. Our pets have become family members and I don’t’ know about you but it is very hard to kick a member out of the family!

So what do you do? Actually there are some fairly simple things you can try without spending a ton of money. Please take a minute to read “Love Your Pet, Not Your Pet Allergies” in our resource center.

As pet owners and allergy sufferers we believe the benefits of pet ownership simply outweigh the drawbacks of allergies for most people who share their lives with a dog, cat or other four-legged or feathered family member.

Wishing you the best of health

The Allergy Store

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Can Sinus Infections Cause Eye Problems?

Sinus infections can make you miserable. Pressure, pain, drainage and difficulty breathing are classic symptoms. But can sinus infections cause other problems? Can sinus infections cause eye problems or stomach problems? The answer is yes!  Here’s why.

food allergies can cause headaches

Sinus Pressure and Eye Pain

Infected sinuses don’t drain properly. The mucous and debris that build up can cause a feeling of pressure and pain. If the infection is in the ethmoid sinuses (the sinuses located between the eyes) the pressure can cause pain that radiates to the eyes. Infection in the frontal sinuses causes a headache that can feel like it is coming from the eyes. Doctors often recommend decongestants to promote drainage and this reduces the pressure. The reduced pressure eases the pain in the area of the eyes.

Sinus Infection and Blurry Vision

Sinus infections can cause more than just pain in the area of the eyes. In fact, sinus infections can cause problems even if you don’t feel pain. Sinus pressure can impact blood circulation to the eyes. Disruption in blood circulation to the eyes causes sudden, patchy blurred vision. A warm compress across the forehead can ease pressure and reduce the swelling. This restores proper circulation of blood to the eyes and the blurry vision is cleared.  Sudden blurry vision can be a symptom of a serious condition and your doctor should always be consulted.

Sinus Infection and Stomach Problems

Your respiratory system should produce a small amount of thin mucous every day. That’s normal. The excess mucous produced with a sinus infection is thick. There’s also a lot of it. A lot. When it drains, this excess mucous can irritate your digestive system. Nausea and loose stools follows.

Chronic Sinus Infections

It’s not uncommon for a sinus infection to set in after a cold. Most sinus infections respond positively to decongestants and antibiotics. However, if you have recurring sinus infections that’s chronic sinusitis and that’s a serious condition.

See an ENT to get to the bottom for the reason for the infections. You may have structural problems that can be addressed with balloon sinuplasty. If you have allergies, get to an allergist. Uncontrolled allergies can lead to chronic sinusitis.

Don’t let sinus infections cause pain, eye problems or stomach problems.

 

 

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