As we #stayhome this year amid our extraordinary Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic circumstances, we find ourselves spending more time on home improvements, decluttering and making sure we are comfortable. With this, also comes preparation for the cooler weather such as dusting off heaters and pulling extra blankets out of the cupboards where they have been stored since last year.
For people with asthma, one of the biggest triggers for symptoms and flare-ups lurks commonly at home. Dust and dust mites are stirred up with this ‘homely activity’.
It’s important people with asthma whose symptoms are triggered by dust and dust mites minimise their exposure to these allergens as much as possible as dust and dust mites can act as irritants for sensitive airways.
Here are a few ways you can reduce your risk of dust mite allergy in your home:
- Wash fabrics on settings hotter than 55 degrees Celsius
- Regularly hot wash your sheets and pillowcases
- Use fresh pillows and replace them if they are looking worse for wear. Some pillow manufacturers recommend replacing pillows every two years, as well as washing and thoroughly drying them monthly
- Wash soft toys and cushions
- Vacuum often to reduce dust mites, ensure to do rugs and get under beds and couches. The Australian Asthma Handbook by the National Asthma Council Australia suggests using a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter.
- Regularly clean carpets and couches
- Wash curtains and dust window coverings
- Consider mite covers and anti-microbial pillows
Evidence suggests these measures are effective only when done in combination and regularly. It’s not clear whether any of the measures are effective on their own.
What else you should know about managing your health despite the dust
Dust mites prefer warmer and more humid weather. Although regular cleaning is recommended, it can stir up the allergens and irritants, so it is recommended that those without asthma and dust mite allergies do these jobs where possible.
The best approach to address this problem includes a combination of using inhaled preventer therapy as prescribed, reducing the amount of allergen in your home, and discussing other allergy treatments with your doctor or pharmacist, to control hay fever symptoms.
Whilst with your doctor, ensure your written Asthma Action Plan is up to date and if your dust mite allergy is really troublesome, have a chat about allergy testing to confirm what your allergies are and ask about whether allergy immunotherapy is an option for you.
If you would like to speak with an Asthma Educator about managing and controlling your asthma, contact 1800 ASTHMA (1800 278 462).