Experts recommend minimising household humidity and cleaning air conditioner units twice a week to help manage dust allergies and limit exposure to dust mites in summer. It is also important to keep air conditioner units switched on to maintain humidity levels below 50%.
For those with allergies, the summer months are often challenging as extreme heat and humidity can worsen their symptoms. Dust allergies may also make it difficult to breathe and may trigger asthma symptoms.
One common cause is house dust mites. They are insects, not able to be seen with the naked eye and live in bedding, carpets, fabric furniture, old clothing and stuffed toys. Dust mites are most commonly found in humid climates; their presence increases in locations that have humidity above 60%.
The symptoms of an allergic reaction to dust mites include respiratory tract obstruction, runny nose, sneezing, difficulty breathing, nasal congestion, itching of the eyes and increased tear excretion. Symptoms vary from person to person and are determined by which area of the respiratory system is affected.
Dr Mehdi Adeli, senior consultant, Allergy and Immunology Department, Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) said the most effective way to reduce seasonal allergies is to identify the triggering stimulants and to try to minimise exposure.
Dr Adeli said, “Dust mites can live in mattresses, pillows and bed linens. Therefore, using ‘mite-proof’ mattress and pillow covers and washing bed linens frequently with hot water, is recommended. Dehumidifiers reduce humidity and removing carpets, dusty furniture and stuffed toys from bedrooms will also help limit exposure to dust mites.”
“We also suggest keeping pets out of the bedroom, as well as limiting exposure to trees, grasses, flowers, weeds and other sources of pollen, in the case of allergies. Pollen counts are highest during the morning, so limiting exposure to the outdoors during the morning hours is a helpful precaution. It is also recommended to keep doors and windows closed as much as possible,” he noted.
Dr Adeli recommended those who experience dust allergies to choose holiday destinations where dust, mold, and pollen levels tend to be significantly lower, such as seaside locations. He also suggested taking allergy medications prior to travel and having the contact information for an allergy specialist at one’s vacation destination. He added that the allergy season can vary greatly between different locations, so being aware of pollen counts in the atmosphere, rain, wind and other environmental factors is an important part of managing symptoms.
According to Dr Adeli, the first step in managing an allergy is a proper diagnosis, which begins with talking to your doctor about your symptoms as well as your family and medical history.
Dr Adeli says that while there is no cure for allergies, there are several types of medication available which help treat symptoms.
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