The mighty mite.
While dust mites might sound like really scary and disgusting things but they are actually a normal part of our environment. They live of off flakes of our skin when they fall off. The mite has co-evolved with the human population for millennia and has found this niche to exist in that is totally harmless. They are so small that we can’t see them and are not aware of them. Another neat thing about them is that they have evolved so that they do not need to drink. They live entirely from water that is in the air, usually in the humid environment close to our body, especially in a nice warm bed.
Did I say totally harmless? Well, not quite. Our body has developed an exquisitely sensitive radar system for detecting foreign invaders that might be a threat to our health, such as microbes and viruses. This radar system, the immune system, detects and mounts counterattacks against threats that, in physical terms, are present in unbelievable small quantities. One virus, weighing one thousand millionth of an ounce, may be enough to start an infection.
This works wonderfully well most of the time, but once in a while things go wrong and your defense system over-reacts. Part of the immune system is an antibody class called IgE. These antibodies are designed to fend of parasites. Sometimes IgEs mount counterattacks to dust mites, not realizing they are harmless. This causes an allergic reaction.
A lot of dust mite allergens exist physically in dust, hence the name, but the allergic reaction is caused by mites which can exist in several places. Dust mites produce feces which may get deposited in dust, carpets and even in beds. Some of the feces in dust break up into even smaller particles and fly off into the air. Many daily activities can stir these particles up into the air. Activities like bed-making, vacuum cleaning, or just moving around. It is these fine particles that trigger a mis-directed counter attack, leading to asthmatic or allergic reactions. Inflammation deep in the lungs can become an asthma attack.
Think you might have a dust mite allergy?
Your doctor can test for dust allergies through skin or blood tests.
Think the dust mites in your home are triggering allergies or asthma?
Exhalenow.com gives you the opportunity, for the first time ever, to measure your exposure to dust mites and many other household allergens. While other companies offer real-time measurements of air pollutants, this can be very confusing because the amounts go up and down so much. Exhalenow.com measures your average exposure over 5 days to give you an exacting picture of the allergies in your home. Allergens are measured in billionths of an ounce, from samples of 100,000s of cubic feet of air.
We arm you with the information you need to take control. Your doctor will tell you what you are allergic to. We’ll tell you and your doctor what you are exposed to. Then you and your doctor can make a plan to reduce allergens, decrease asthma triggers, and breathe easy.
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