Dust mite allergies can often be masked by respiratory symptoms, says Dr Hospodka

Article

16. 03. 2022 Allergology & immunology

Cough, stuffed or runny nose… these are symptoms we’ve all experienced at some point, but we usually attribute them to one of many respiratory diseases. But there may be another, quite surprising, cause of respiratory symptoms- imperceptible to the naked eye and a looming threat even in the safest places. Dr Martin Hospodka, chief allergologist at Canadian Medical shares his insights.

How can you tell that your child is suffering from a dust mite allergy? What are the most common symptoms?

Dust mite allergies can often mask themselves behind the same symptoms as respiratory illnesses. Constant nose rubbing, endless mountains of tissues, mouth breathing due to a stuffed nose- these are very common symptoms. Children tend to be tired, irritated and lack concentration. With time, it may become increasingly difficult to perform regular physical activities, in addition to a wearying cough and shortness of breath.

What specialist should you see if you have a dust-mite allergy suspicion?

The first point of contact should be your paediatrician. They know the child the best, and usually have a good idea about any genetic predispositions to allergies. Alternatively, you can make an appointment with an allergologist, who your paediatrician will refer you to in case there is a strong suspicion of a dust-mite allergy.

Are some children more prone to dust mite allergies than others? Can it be generalised?

Today, allergies affect almost half of the paediatric population in developed countries. The risk increases with the number of allergy sufferers in the family, and the risk also tends to be higher in firstborns and males. Passive smoking is another serious risk factor. The number of mites to which children are exposed plays a big role.

Are dust mites dangerous?

Mites themselves aren’t dangerous. Quite on the contrary, dust mites are very useful in the household as they consume the dead skin cells that we shed in our environment. The problem is the various proteins on their body or in their excrements that can cause an allergic reaction in some individuals.

Where do dust mites reproduce? Is it just the bed?

Mites live wherever they can find a suitable environment. All they need is warmth, moisture and something to eat. Our households can provide all this. Textile fibres best retain moisture, which is why we can find the most dust mites in our bedding, carpets, upholstery, but also, for example, clothing.

How can we protect our children from dust mites?

Mites are an inevitable part of human lives. The most optimal prevention against dust mites is ensuring a good immune system. The basis is healthy skin and intact and sufficiently hydrated mucous membranes. I would strongly recommend minimising the following risk factors: use of skin detergents, time spent in a polluted environment, exposure to bacterial or viral infections and consumption of bad quality food.

If a child is already suffering from dust mite allergies, what can be done to help relieve the symptoms? What needs to be changed in the household?

First and foremost, it's important to quantify how severe the allergic reaction is, and how much it is harming the child’s organism. At Canadian Medical we use specialised equipment that is based on acoustic technology. Thanks to acoustic rhinometry, we can map the nasal cavity and measure the extent of the allergic impact. An acoustic oscillometer can then accurately measure the effect the allergies have on the bronchi and lungs. 

The examination with both of these devices is very safe, easy and very often, children even enjoy taking part in it. Subsequent recommendations for the management of the allergy are based on the results obtained from these examinations. 

Is the treatment for life, or is it possible to rid the child of their allergies by simply eliminating mites from the household?

There are many ways to manage a mite allergy. However, it is always advisable to re-evaluate the patient's health at certain intervals in order to achieve expected results.

Can a child with a dust mite allergy get used to the allergen-  if exposed to it recurrently?

Yes, that is in fact possible with the help of allergic training, which is one of the main ways of managing dust mite allergies.

Can a mite allergy escalate into something more severe? Or are there any complications that can arise if the allergy is not treated?

I can’t imagine a situation where the allergy would not be treated. A dust mite allergy has such a significant impact on the child’s health, quality of life and social interactions, that no parent would let their child suffer on without finding appropriate treatment.

The article can be found on Žena-in.cz.

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