Tuesday, 2 October 2018

BATTLING DUST ALLERGIES


I wasn't planning to talk about my allergies on the blog initially. It's quite a personal matter and also does not apply to everyone. But, I also felt that if the information I am about to share helps at least one person who is battling with dust allergies, it's well worth it.  

So, to give you some background I've known from a very young age that I am allergic to dust mites and all furry animals. I still remember the day my school nurse did the skin prick test (I was 10 at the time) and announced that I was highly allergic to all furry animals as well as dust mites. Just like any good mother, my mum launched into a cleaning frenzy and put all our bedding outside for 24 hours (luckily I lived in Finland at the time and it was -20 degrees outside, enough to kill those little buggers!) I even had to give up horse riding (I was gutted) but somehow convinced my father to buy me a pet rabbit. Well, I had my pet rabbit for almost 10 years with very little allergies or side affects, although now when I think about it, it probably wasn't the best idea. 

For many years I didn't have any problems. Well, technically that's not true. I've always been allergic to furry animals and got used to having a blocked nose pretty much all the time. However, something changed during/after my second pregnancy and my allergy symptoms came back worse than ever after I gave birth to my second daughter.  My doctor explained to me it was something to do with hormones and my body going into a bit of lock down. There is no real way to prove what really happened, but it was probably a combination of things that caused my allergies to worsen.

In case you are not familiar with dust mites, dust mites are microscopic bugs in the spider family. They feed off dust and moisture. Everybody has them in their home no matter how much cleaning they do, although there are ways to minimise them. Unfortunately some people, like myself, are allergic to the allergens and get various different symptoms. My typical symptoms are itchy eyes, blocked nose and sometimes breathing difficulties. I also developed blepharitis (itchy eye condition) during my second pregnancy which is particularly annoying as I'm a contact lens wearer.


I decided to take action and do all the little things that my doctor advised me to do in order to reduce them in our household. I really should have done these things a long time ago but I didn't know anti allergy bedding existed back then (it probably didn't).






HERE'S HOW I'VE MANAGED TO REDUCE MY ALLERGY SYMPTOMS...

ANTI ALLERGY BEDDING

I was very sceptical whether anti allergy bedding would make any difference and didn't want to spend a fortune in case it didn't work. I thought the John Lewis anti allergy range was good value and ordered their pillow, pillow cover, duvet and bed cover. The bedding was so comfortable and to my surprise I felt like it really did help to clear out my sinuses.

WASH EVERYTHING IN 60 DEGREES  

This applies to everything. Your bedding should be washed weekly in 60 degrees whether it's anti allergy or not. You should also wash your clothes in 60 degrees as the high temperature will kill the dust mites. If you cannot wash certain items like silk shirts, freeze them for 24 hours. Freezing kills dust mites but doesn't remove the allergens unfortunately, so it's not quite as good as wash in 60 degrees. You could also use the tumble dryer for 20 minutes on a high setting to kill the dust mites.

NO CARPETS OR RUGS

I'm not going to lie, I'm struggling with this one. We have carpets upstairs and this year we replaced our old carpet in the stairs with a wool one. If we ever move, I will make sure there are no carpets in the house. It will be wood flooring throughout.  If you need to have a carpet or rugs, go for low pile carpets that are easy to hoover. Natural materials like wool, coir and sisal repel dust mites, so they are also good materials for allergy sufferers. 

HOOVER WITH A HEPA FILTER

We have a Dyson but any hoover with HEPA filter will do. I haven't found my Dyson that great to be honest (it's too heavy and needs emptying very often), so I wouldn't really recommend this model to anyone, although it does the job.

OPEN WINDOWS AND AIR ROOMS DAILY

Dust mites love high temperatures and moisture which means that good airing is important if you want to minimise them. I usually open our bedroom window first thing I wake up. I also leave the bed unmade for at least 30 min so the sheets get a good airing.

ALLERGY MEDICATION

Use anti allergy medication as your last resort if you can. You could try anything from antihistamines to allergy jabs but in my experience drugs won't work on their own. You'll still need to use anti allergy bedding and stay on top of your dusting routine. I'm having to take antihistamines as well as use a nasal spray and eye drops which does seem a little excessive but it seems to work for me.

USE A WET CLOTH TO DUST

This one is common sense really but most people use a slightly damp cloth and you should really use a wet one. You don't want the dust floating around in the air which is why this is a must. Baby wipes or any antibacterial wipes are pretty handy too.


ANTI DUST MITE SPRAY


I bought our first anti dust mite spray out of pure desperation and didn't believe it would work. I do think it helped a little but you need to use it after you have cleaned your room properly. The bad news is that dust mites can travel from one room to another (especially if you have carpets) so you would need to spray each and every room in your home. I've only sprayed our bedroom and living room so far and I'm not convinced it's worth treating the entire house.


MINIMISE CLUTTER

This is probably one of the most important points. The more stuff you have, the more dust there will be. I find decluttering quite therapeutic actually and I've been doing some regular trips to our local charity shop recently, but this is very much an on going process for me.

I know there are air purifiers in the market as well but personally I haven't felt the need to invest in one yet. I think anti allergy bedding and good dusting/cleaning routine is far more important. Anti allergy bedding helped from day one (my nose was substantially less blocked) but I noticed a much bigger difference after I did all the things I listed above. I still suffer from blepharitis and my allergies haven't totally disappeared (although I definitely sleep much better at night) but I feel like this was the step to the right direction. Nobody else in our household suffers from dust mite allergies which just goes to show it's not about cleanliness but just bad luck really. If you do suffer from dust allergies, try to do something about them now as they can cause some serious long term damage, like asthma. It takes serious commitment to fight them and you may never get rid of them entirely, but you can't put a price on being able to breathe through your nose, can you? 

I really hope this post was helpful and feel free to leave a comment or message me if you have any questions. Also, I'd love to know what things you have done to minimise dust mite allergens in your own home??

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1 comment

  1. Found this so useful, thank you! Even though I don't have dust allergies, the tips on how to deal with dust are really helpful.

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