Asthma caused by house dust mites: one in ten Germans suffers from house dust mite allergy
Dust mites - around one in ten Germans has problems with small arachnids and shows reactions such as allergic runny nose, sneezing fits, sore throat or itchy eyes. In most cases, however, it is recognized very late that it is a real allergy, often only when the runny nose has already developed into asthma.
A tiny mite causes the house dust mite allergy House dust allergy or house dust mite allergy - a widespread phenomenon, because according to the German Allergy and Asthma Association, this is the most common allergy in Germany after pollen allergy, which affects about one in ten people. The name is initially misleading, because the trigger of the allergy is not the dust, but a small mite, which is 0.1 to 0.5 millimeters in size and cannot be seen with the naked eye. The small animals find food in the dandruff of humans and animals, but they feel most comfortable at temperatures of 20 to 30 degrees and a humidity of about 70 percent - they cannot survive at altitudes above 1200 meters.
Feces of mites Triggers for allergic reactions However, the mites themselves are not a problem for humans, because they can neither transmit diseases nor become dangerous through bites or stings. Instead, the animal droppings trigger the allergic reaction because it contains certain proteins (allergens) to which the immune system reacts hypersensitively. Since these allergens are too heavy to float in the air, they are increasingly found in all possible places on the floor - for example in carpets or upholstered furniture, but above all in mattresses, because here the mites find a variety of food in Form of dandruff, which makes the bed an ideal living space.
Symptoms from mild itchy eyes to severe asthma The symptoms of a house dust allergy are diverse and range from relatively mild symptoms such as itchy, watery eyes or itching and swelling of the nasal or pharynx mucosa, persistent runny nose and sneezing fits to asthmatic reactions such as asthmatic cough . However, the minor complaints in particular often do not receive sufficient attention from those affected, so that in many cases medical advice is only obtained after years: "Only when the floor change typical for allergies has taken place and asthma does most people go to the doctor," says the CEO of the Federal Association of Pneumologists (BdP) Andreas Hellmann. According to the expert, the number of allergies has increased enormously in recent years, every tenth German now suffers from a house dust allergy, only certain pollen allergies - such as those against birch trees - are even more common: "A plateau has now been reached because it is it is hardly possible for more people to be affected, ”explains the pulmonologist.
Absolute safety only through bronchial provocation test As soon as the person concerned turns to a specialist, a careful and detailed medical history is first of all important, because when the patient reports about his complaints, the doctor already gets the first important insights: "If complaints such as plump nose and swollen eyes or asthma symptoms, especially at night or towards morning, indicate a dust mite allergy, ”says pulmonologist Hellmann. Following the anamnesis, skin and blood tests would normally be carried out, according to the doctor, because large amounts of antibodies in the blood are another important indicator of an allergy. However, according to Hellmann, only a so-called "bronchial provocation test" can bring absolute certainty, because the affected person has to inhale mite allergens, which can be used to reliably diagnose whether or not it is an allergic asthma. Because the risk of confusion with allergic asthma and non-allergic asthma is great according to the expert, since the non-allergic form would often occur primarily at night.
Important for house dust allergy: renovating the house environment If there is a house dust mite allergy, according to Hellmann "first of all the house environment should be renovated", which means removing dust catchers and above all ridding the bed of mites - i.e. bedding and mattresses specially for allergy sufferers who buy it meanwhile in many different versions. According to the expert, this would often already make the symptoms go away - if this is not the case, the doctor could prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs such as cortisone spray in the next step, because "the antihistamines that are effective against other allergies have proved less effective in treating house dust mite allergies," says Hellmann.
Specific immunotherapy as a further treatment option In addition to the renovation of the living environment as well as a possible drug treatment, specific immunotherapy is often used - the allergen is administered to the affected person in small quantities. The amount is then increased step by step, whereby the immune system learns to develop a tolerance to the allergen and no longer show an overreaction. According to Hellmann, for house dust mite allergy, this would mean that injections would be given every six to eight weeks over three years.
Affected people should ensure that the living space is as mite-free as possible. However, there is still no “vaccination” in the sense of a short treatment or even self-treatment of the patient against dust mite allergy. According to the expert, active substances are already in development, but the test phase would take a few more years. Until then, those affected have no choice but to renovate their own living space or to provide living space that is as mite and allergen-free as possible.
Avoid dust catchers and frequently wipe smooth floors with moisture.Accordingly, allergy sufferers should not only use mite-proof mattresses, beds and bed linen, but also make sure, according to the German Allergy and Asthma Association, to always ventilate all rooms well, keep them dry and, if possible, keep them indoors Avoid dust catchers (such as open bookshelves, lots of pillows or soft toys). Cuddly toys from children could also be "cleared of mites by a" visit "in the freezer," as the association recommends on its website. Washable cuddly toys also offer an alternative. In addition, according to the association, "smooth floors are only cheaper for allergy sufferers if they are wiped very often - several times a week - since dust is whirled up more than with short-pile carpets". (No)
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