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Allergies, asthma, and dust

  • Alternative Names
    • Reactive airway disease - dust; Bronchial asthma - dust; Triggers - dust

  • Dust and Dust Mites
    • Things that make allergies or asthma worse are called triggers. Dust is a common trigger. When your asthma or allergies become worse due to dust, you are said to have a dust allergy.

      • Very tiny insects called dust mites are the main cause of dust allergies. Dust mites can only be seen under a microscope. Most dust mites in your home are found in bedding, mattresses, and box springs.
      • House dust may also contain tiny particles of pollen, mold, fibers from clothing and fabrics, and detergents. All of these can also trigger allergies and asthma.
  • Choose the Right Home Furnishings
    • You can do many things to limit your or your child's exposure to dust and dust mites.

      Replace blinds that have slats and cloth draperies with pull-down shades. They will not collect as much dust.

      Dust particles collect in fabrics and carpets.

      • If you can, get rid of fabric or upholstered furniture. Wood, leather, and vinyl are better.
      • Avoid sleeping or lying on cushions and furniture that are covered in cloth.
      • Replace wall-to-wall carpet with wood or other hard flooring.

      Since mattresses, box springs, and pillows are hard to avoid:

      • Wrap them with mite-proof covers.
      • Wash bedding and pillows once a week in hot water (130°F [54.4°C] to 140°F [60°C]).
  • Other Tips
    • Keep indoor air dry. Dust mites thrive in moist air. Try to keep the moisture level (humidity) lower than 30% to 50%, if possible. A dehumidifier will help control humidity.

      Central heating and air-conditioning systems may help control dust.

      • The system should include special filters to capture dust and animal dander.
      • Change furnace filters frequently.
      • Use high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters.

      When cleaning:

      • Wipe away dust with a damp cloth and vacuum once a week. Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to help control the dust that vacuuming stirs up.
      • Use furniture polish to help reduce dust and other allergens.
      • Wear a mask when you clean the house.
      • You and your child should leave the house when others are cleaning, if possible.

      Keep stuffed toys off beds, and wash them weekly.

      Keep closets clean and closet doors closed.

  • References
    • Platts-Mills TAE. Indoor allergens. In: Adkinson NF Jr, Bochner BS, Burks AW, et al, eds. Middleton's Allergy Principles and Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 28.

      Wright LS, Phipatanakul W. Environmental remediation in the treatment of allergy and asthma: latest updates. Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. 2014;14:419. PMID 24488258