Dust mites….tiny but troublesome!

Sheela was worried. Her 8 year old Rohan was not doing well at school. He constantly was sneezing, with a runny and stuffy nose. He used to miss school and games, because he was too unwell to attend. He used to get worse whenever she was cleaning the house and in damp weather. He was their only child and he slept with  his mom and dad in the same room. they had the AC on every night. He was worse since they shifted to their new town, which was near the sea. The weather was warm and humid, and mold used to form in the bathroom. After the rains the clothes in the cupboard had a musty smell too. She consulted with her paediatrician, who decided that an allergy test had to be done for him. The doctor asked him a few questions after which he was tested for a selected few allergens, and was found to have strong dust mite allergy. The doctor told Sheela how to take care of things at home, and he was given immunotherapy. After a few months Rohan started feeling better, and his grades started improving at school.

What was bothering Rohan?

the culprit was the house dust mite.

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What are dust mites?

Thanks to awareness in general, and on the internet, a lot of you are aware of the house dust mite. But many of you may not know what they are.

House dust mites are tiny insects of the mite family. They are small, whitish insects barely visible to the naked eye. being 0.5 mm in length.They are globular in shape, with hair on their legs and body. They are not to be confused with bed bugs, as they do not bite. They are the major cause of allergy in most of the continents, including Europe, North America, Asia and Australia.

The common species of dust mites in Europe and America are Dermatophagoides Pteronyssinus and D farinae. In hot tropical regions, Blomia Tropicalis is a major dust mite causing allergy.

Where can they be found?

They are commonly found in mattresses, pillows, bed sheets, blankets, pillow covers, carpets, curtains, upholstery, soft toys, etc. Even in the clothes cupboard, Air conditioning, on your furry pets, etc.

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How do they cause allergies, if they don’t bite?

Dermato=skin, Phagoides=to eat. The name itself suggests that they eat skin. That means they are mini dead-skin eating monsters. The image below shows it all.

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How to manage dust mite allergy?

Dust mites like a warm and humid climate. They get destroyed by extreme heat and extreme cold.

If you are allergic to something the first thing you have to do is avoid it.

Dust mites are a little difficult to avoid. Precautions start at home itself. Get rid of all the extra carpets, soft furnishings. Or else you will have a regular chore of vacuuming. Soft toys have to be washed with hot water or frozen. Bed-sheets, blankets, pillow covers, etc should be washed with hot water and dried in the sun. Mattresses and pillows have to be aired in the dry sun and vacuumed properly.

You may require a dehumidifier or a HEPA  filter too, if symptoms are extreme.

Allergy proof covers

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They are made of fine weave fabric. They stop micro particles like dust mite pellets, etc from passing through. They can be washed once in a few months. They are encasing of mattresses and pillows, on which you can spread your bed-sheets and pillow covers.

Medication 

You must consult your doctor if you have troublesome symptoms. You will be prescribed appropriate medication. Some tablets and topical sprays have to be taken long term to have a good effect.

Immunotherapy:

Medicines help to control the symptoms. Once you stop the medication the symptoms will return. In that case immunotherapy helps, especially for dust mite allergies.

What is Immunotherapy?

In immunotherapy the main allergen extract is given in gradually increasing doses. This makes the body resistant to the allergen, and reduces the reaction to exposure and symptoms of allergy.

It is a natural extract. There’s no allopathic, homeopathic, steroids or sedatives involved. i.e.NO DRUGS are involved.

How is it given?

It can be given in injection form or as sublingual form. that is drops are given below the tongue.

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The injections have to be given in the proper hospital setting, with monitoring and observation for half an hour before letting the patient go home. The oral drops are safe, and once the patient is instructed on how to take the drops, they can take it at home safely.

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How much time does it take for immunotherapy to be effective?

This varies for different people. It takes a few months, in some people a few weeks. Till then the patient has to continue with his symptomatic medication.

How long does a patient have to take immunotherapy? How long does it’s effect last after stopping of immunotherapy?

Immunotherapy has to be taken for atleast 3-5 years. it’s effect will last then for 10-12 years. However, if you feel better and stop it after a few months, your symptoms will be back within the year. Therefore, completion of the course is necessary.

Immunotherapy doses and schedules vary. They are customised as per patient. They can be given twice a week or even daily.

NEXT: POLLEN ALLERGIES

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What causes allergies?

Hi. Welcome back.

In the previous blog we had a brief overview of what is the meaning of allergy. Now I’d like to discuss about what can cause allergies in our body.

As discussed previously, once a foreign substance enters the body, it causes allergic reaction on exposure the second time.

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Allergens can enter the body by

Inhalation

Ingestion

contact with the skin, and eyes.

Inhalation: There are minute particles of allergy causing substances in the air. We breathe in these particles. This is known as inhalation, and these allergens are known as inhalants.                                 

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Examples of inhalant allergens are pollen, dust mites, saw dust, spider dust, paper dust, house dust, sheep’s wool, rice, wheat dust, etc, fur and feathers of animals and birds, fungal spores in the air.

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You can get sneezing, itching, running nose, and in long term stuffiness of the nose, within half an hour of inhaling these things.

Ingestion: various foods can cause allergy after eating. The most common are milk and milk products, wheat, soyabean, egg, seafood, tree-nuts and peanuts..

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You can get diarrhea, stomach upset, rashes, urticaria and angioedema, swelling of the lips, eyelid and face, breathing difficulty after ingestion of these foods. In severe allergies even inhaling food can cause a reaction known as anaphylactic shock. In this reaction your blood pressure goes down, face, tongue and airways swell up, causing choking and making breathing difficult. this is life threatening and has to be treated immediately with adrenaline injections below the skin.

Severe allergies to peanuts, seafood, etc are seen in the western world, so that patients have to carry along with them epi-pen or readily injectable adrenaline.

Food allergies are common in children, and atopic dermatitis and rashes. They eventually grow out of it. But allergies to certain foods like milk and wheat can persist through life.

Drug allergies: Sometimes certain medication may not agree with you. this can cause severe reactions like shock, skin eruptions, etc.

What is the difference between intolerance and allergy?

Allergic reactions are when your body is highly sensitive to a substance introduced

Some fruits,cheese, etc contain a histamine like substance which can trigger an allergy type of response.

Sometimes, if you are allergic to pollen, you can get local irritation in the mouth after eating certain fruit.This is called the ‘oral allergy syndrome.’

In intolerance you cannot process the particular substance, i.e. in lactose intolerance, the enzyme which digests lactose at the gut lining is deficient. In gluten intolerance the same mechanism comes to play.

Hyperactivity can occur in children due to excess caffiene, energy drinks.

Chronic allergic reactions can lead to long term changes in the digestive system such as eosinophilic oesophagitis leading to thickening and narrowing of the gut lining.

Contact: 

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If certain substances touch your skin, you can get rashes, swelling and itching, with patches. These could be food, pollen, dust, dust mites, fungi and a variety of allergens.

Certain chemicals, cosmetics, nickel from cheap jewellery , topical ointment, eye and ear drops can cause contact irritation too.

Insect bites and stings:  Honeybees, wasps, ants, mosquito, can cause a severe allergic reaction. In some cases even fatal

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Thus, we can state that allergies are troublesome as they affect the quality of living and work. In some cases allergies can be fatal too.

NEXT: Each allergen will be dealt with one by one in detail.

 

 

Allergies? An upcoming lifestyle disease?

Hi everyone! This is my first blog for my site. I’ll like to clarify a few things about allergy in this post. Hoping to make things better for all of you and your allergies in future.

What do you exactly mean by allergy?

Allergy means an altered response of the body. The body has natural defense mechanisms, the immune system,which handle any foreign substances which enter the body such as microbes and bacteria. Sometimes, if a foreign protein enters the body, the immune system overreacts to that protein, and can cause a  reaction which is harmful.

What are the natural defense mechanisms of the body?

The natural barriers of the body are the skin, mucosal lining of the nose, windpipe, foodpipe and the digestive system as a whole. Any breach in these layers exposes the body to allergen. however, below these barriers is a layer of antibodies and specialised white blood cells.

what causes allergy?

A foreign substance introduced in the body. This is a protein or part of it known as an allergen. you can eat it, breathe it in, or if it comes in contact with your skin. Once it crosses the natural barriers of the body it gets introduced to the immune system. You may not have a reaction the first time, but once the body develops antibodies to the particular allergen, on subsequent exposure you can get some severe allergic reactions.

What are the symptoms of allergy?

Running nose, sneezing ,itchy eyes, stomach upset, diarrhea, vomiting, rashes. In extreme cases you can get a life threatening reaction called anaphylaxis in which you get into shock. Swelling of  lips and face and occasionally of the tongue and voice box can lead to choking.

Why is allergy a lifestyle disease?

We can see in today’s world allergies are more rampant than 20-30 years ago.  Lifestyle changes, global warming, all have lead to increasing allergies.

Lifestyle changes: Earlier, we used to be more exposed to nature. Deliveries used to be conducted at home. Kids used to play outside in the dirt and with animals. This boosted their immune system as they used to be exposed to a lot of allergens. Nowadays kids are born in the hospital in a sterile environment and extensively protected.

More of an Urban lifestyle with closed environment , air conditioning and central heating leads to over exposure to dust mites, fungi, and other indoor allergens. early weaning, exposure to processed food, and early introduction of cow’s milk to the diet of children predispose to allergies.

Global warming: Warm climate predisposes more to plants releasing their pollen in the atmosphere more quickly and frequently. this leads to more and more pollen allergies.

Next: What are the main things that cause allergy.