Mighty Mites… – Your Health Detective

I know, this is not a pleasing topic but one that is becoming more and more of a problem and is being ignored by most.

Allergies are at an all time high, with dust mite allergies leading the parade of health-depleting causes. House dust mites are microscope bugs that live primarily on dead skin cells — regularly shed from humans and their animal friends. They are harmless to many and health-depleting to most. They don’t carry diseases but do cause allergic responses in those whose immune systems are compromised and those with any respiratory weaknesses like asthma and COPD.

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 You Need to Know…

  • Skin cells and scales, commonly called dander, are concentrated in lounging areas, mattresses, frequently used furniture and carpeted areas;
  • The average mattress can contain tens of thousands of dust mites;
  • The average human sloughs-off about 1/3 ounce of dead skin per week – plenty for a gourmet meal for the mites;
  • Cats and dogs slough-off much more dander than humans;
  • Nearly 100,000 mites can live in one square yard of carpet;
  • A single mite produces about 20 waste dropping each and every day – each containing a protein to which many people become VERY allergic;
  • Reactions to mites and the dander range from itchy red swollen eyes to full-blown asthma attacks and brutual sinus infections;
  • About 80 percent of that matter floating in a sunbeam is actually dead skin flakes;
  • On the positive side, dust mites are NOT parasites because they ONLY EAT dead tissue!
  • Bedroom carpeting and household upholstered furnishings support very high mite populations.

Where do they set-up Residence? 

  • Beds are a prime haitat. A typical used mattress may have from 100,000 to 10 million mites. They prefer a warm, moist, dark environment so when you’re in the bed they do their multiplying. A dust mite pillow and mattress cover is a great solution in reducing dust mites.
  • Ten percent of the weight of a two-year old pillow can be composed of dead mites and their droppings. Another reason to wash pillows monthly in HOT water and dry on HOT. I toss mine in the HOT dryer weekly to kill mites and fluff at the same time.
  • A University of Manchester performed a medical study in 2005 and found that pillows contained 16 species of fungi in one pillow. They tested feather and synthetic pillows in a wide range of ages and still found thousands of spores of fungus per gram of pillow…MORE than found in an average tooth brush.

Yes, all of this is disgusting but true. Allow me to continue enlighting you…you’ll be washing or preparing to replace alot of items in your bedroom by the time you’re finished reading this…and you should be!

Biologically Speaking…Adult females lay from 40 to 80 eggs singly or in small groups of three to five…I know…just what you wanted to hear, right? After eggs hatch, a six-legged larva emerges. After the first molt, an eight-legged nymph appears. After two nymphal stages occur, an eight-legged adult emerges. The life cycle from egg to adult is about one month with the average adult dust mite living one to three months. Besides human and animal dead skin as their meal, mites thrive on fish food flakes, pet food, fungi, cereals, crumbs, bird’s nests, in barns, among stored grain, and straw, to name a few places. 

Highest mite densities occur in the humid summer months and lowest in drier winter months. Therefore, populations are highest in humid regions and lowest in areas of high altitude and/or dry climates.

Symptoms of Dust Mite Allergies

  • Runny nose
  • Hay fever
  • Postnasal drip
  • Sneezing
  • Asthma or difficulty breathing
  • Itchy, red or watery eyes
  • Nasal congestion
  • Cough, especially upon arising
  • Facial pressure and pain
  • Sinus-type headache upon arising, not present when going to bed
  • Swollen, blue-colored skin under your eyes
  • Itchy nose, roof of mouth or throat
  • Infant eczema
  • In children, frequent upward rubbing of nose

The Way I See It…

This is one of the easiest allergens to control. Wash pillows once a month and toss in HOT dryer for at least 20 minutes weekly. Purchase dust mite covers for both mattress and pillows. Pay attention to symptoms. If you go to bed without a particular symptom yet wake up in the morning with a symptoms…there’s an allergen in your bedroom, most probably your mattress and pillow. For these reasons I always advise my clients to avoid carpet in any part of the house but especially bedrooms. It is also adviseable to purchase a quality HEPA filtered vacuume cleaner to deep clean all upholstered furniture, draperies, etc.

To Your Health, Naturally

DR. GLORIA

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