Headache, cough, sneezing - but the "right" runny nose is missing? Then it may not be a cold, but the symptoms of a dust mite allergy that make everyday life more difficult.
Around ten percent of Germans suffer from this allergy. In autumn, the level of allergens is particularly high because the mites reproduce mainly from May to October. When the heating season begins and the air humidity becomes lower, the small arachnids die - and at the same time the allergy-causing substances in the bedroom and other living rooms peak.
The allergy is particularly noticeable in the morning
The house dust mite allergy is particularly noticeable at night and in the morning after getting up. The mites that are responsible for the allergy feel extremely comfortable in mattresses, pillows and duvets. This is because the tiny arachnids mainly feed on human dander.
The mites find a lot of food in a mattress. They also benefit from moisture and warmth. All in all, ideal conditions for the microscopic animals, which are actually harmless: they do not sting, do not bite and do not transmit any diseases.
"The allergy is not triggered by the mites themselves, but by their excrement and decay products," says Prof. Dr. med. Martin Mempel, dermatologist from Elmshorn. “These allergens dry out, break down into microscopic parts and combine with the dust. When allergy sufferers breathe in this mixture, there are typical reactions that are very similar to a cold. ”
From protective measures to hyposensitization
The strength of the allergic reaction can vary widely. If the reactions are not so pronounced, some allergy sufferers can cope well by taking anti-mite measures and decimating the mite allergens in the air they breathe.
This can be achieved, for example, by washing the bedding regularly at least one hour at 60 degrees. In addition, you should not make the bed immediately after getting up, but fold back the duvet and ventilate it vigorously - this allows heat and moisture to escape better. Allergy-tight covers on the mattresses, the so-called “encasings”, also reduce the allergenic potential in the bedroom. But: It is a mistake to believe that mites only live in the bedroom, they can also be found in the living room and in many other rooms. In fact, the highest exposure occurs in public transportation. Nevertheless, you should stick to protective measures in the home: Smooth floors are only cheaper for allergy sufferers if they are wiped with a damp cloth at least twice a week. Otherwise, more dust is whirled up on a smooth floor than on a short pile carpet - and this is especially true in the heating season, when the air is drier and contains more dust particles.
Allergy sufferers who have more severe symptoms, where symptomatic medications such as antihistamines or glucocorticoid nasal sprays do not significantly improve symptoms and / or who want to avoid developing dangerous asthma, should opt for hyposensitization. This is paid for by the health insurance companies and is the only therapy that can be used to combat the cause of the allergy.
With hyposensitization, allergy sufferers are given tablets, drops or syringes containing fixed doses of the specific allergen for three to five years. This is how the immune system learns to no longer perceive dust mites as a danger. This treatment is successful for most allergy sufferers: the symptoms become less or disappear completely, even without taking symptomatic medication.