Allergy to household dust and / or pets.
What is allergy to household dust and / or pets?
Perennial allergic rhinitis is a long-term (longer than four weeks) or often recurring condition. It is accompanied by complaints such as a stuffy nose, a runny nose, sneezing or itching in the nose. These complaints are caused by an allergy to house dust mites or animal skin flakes.
Symptoms allergy to house dust and / or pets
If you have symptoms of a stuffy nose, a runny nose and itching of the nose with sneezing, and those symptoms last longer than 4 weeks, or if you suffer from it very often, you may well have an allergic rhinitis or a hyperreactive has rhinitis.
Your complaints can then be caused either by ‘hypersensitive mucosa‘ or by an allergy to specific stimuli in the air.
If your symptoms do not only occur in spring and / or summer, then you probably do not have a hay fever (pollen allergy). People with dust mite allergies or allergies to animals often have fewer complaints in the summer, because the house is then vented a little better and life takes place more outside. Dust mite allergy is often the worst in autumn and winter .
To find out if you are indeed allergic to something and what exactly you are allergic to, it is best to go to your doctor for an examination.
How does this allergy arise?
With allergic rhinitis, the allergen (the house dust mite or pet dander) comes into contact with the nasal mucosa through inhalation. Under the influence of binding of the allergens to IgE antibodies on the so-called mast cells in the nasal mucosa, histamine is released into the nose, among other things. This histamine causes a greater patency of the blood vessels in the nose and stimulates the nerve endings present in the nose. This results in greater moisture excretion, itching and sneezing.
About half of the patients also have a late allergic reaction after this direct reaction, whereby the mucous membrane of the nose becomes inflamed and therefore becomes much more sensitive to re-contact with allergens, but also to smoke and irritating odors.
In some families, allergic rhinitis is common. This has to do with the fact that the tendency to react allergically to all sorts of environmental factors (allergens) is hereditary.
Furthermore, environmental factors in the first years of life are important, with indications of the influence of infections, cigarette smoke and possibly air pollution.
The incidence of allergic rhinitis in general practice doubled between 1975 and 1995. The influence of environmental factors has been extensively investigated, but is not yet entirely clear. For example, a study has been conducted among children in former East and West Berlin. The fall of the Berlin wall changed the circumstances in which the children grew up. Despite a greater degree of air pollution in East Berlin, allergy was initially less common here. After the fall of the wall, the houses were better insulated (more dust mites), and more pets arrived. In the years following the fall of De Muur, the incidence of allergic rhinitis among East German youth appeared to increase rapidly. It is possible that experiencing infections too little at a young age plays a role.
Is it serious and what can you expect?
Allergic rhinitis is an annoying condition, but usually not serious. You can do a lot to minimize the symptoms. If, despite this, you still have many complaints, this can be improved considerably with medication. Research shows that the complaints generally decrease over the years.
When to the doctor?
If you have symptoms that are compatible with allergic rhinitis, your doctor can do a screening blood test for allergy. If this test is positive, a further breakdown of the test will follow. After this research you will know for which allergens you are hypersensitive.
The doctor can now give you a number of recommendations to prevent exposure to this allergen as much as possible (see: general advice and precautions). In consultation with you, he may decide to see you again after some time (for example, four weeks) to see whether these recommendations have led to a sufficient reduction in complaints. He can also decide to prescribe medication right away. In that case he will also want to see you again to discuss the effect of both advice and medication with you. If the medication has been shown to be effective, the medication can be reduced to the lowest effective dose.
For the medication he can choose from:
- Cromoglicic acid for both adults and children. This medicine has no serious side effects. The effect is only maximal after a few weeks. Cromoglicic acid can only be used as a nasal spray and / or eye drop, or added if an antihistamine tablet alone has insufficient effect
- A nasal spray containing corticosteroid, for example beclometasone. The effect increases in a few days and is only maximal after about a month. Local irritation occurs in 10% of patients and bloody discharge in 2%. Corticosteroids have a good effect on nasal congestion
- Antihistamine (for example loratadine, cetirizine ). Use only with complaints, but with persistent complaints daily use is recommended. This can be in the form of tablets, a nasal spray or eye drops. Antihistamines work within a few hours. They work particularly well against itching, runny nose and sneezing, but less well against nasal congestion. A nasal spray containing corticosteroid can optionally be added if the antihistamine alone has insufficient effect
If you have serious symptoms and have not been adequately helped with medication, immunotherapy may be considered. Your doctor will usually refer you to a specialist for this.
What can you do about it yourself?
You can make your environment as dust-free as possible to minimize exposure to dust mites. That means; to clean.
Smooth surfaces in the house should be wiped 2 or 3 times a week with a damp cloth. Vacuuming, even 2 to 3 times a week is also important, but you should have it done by someone else if you are not there. It is important that the house is dry. In the bedroom you need a non-woven floor covering such as tarpaulin or laminate and you can purchase a allergen-tight cover for your mattress and pillow. Reimbursement for these covers can be requested from your insurance company. Reimbursement for other remediation measures goes, via the social service, depending on the financial capacity.
The bedding (including the duvet cover or sheets) must be washed at least once a week at 60 degrees. Blankets and synthetic duvets must be washed at 60 degrees a few times a year. Washable curtains must hang in the bedroom. Toys, books and other items lying around must be stored in a closed cupboard.
In the case of an allergy to a pet, the only effective measure is to remove the animal from the house and then thoroughly vacuum all carpets, mattresses and upholstered furniture. Even then it can take months before the allergen concentration in the home has fallen sufficiently. If it is not possible to dispose of the pet, make sure that it cannot enter your bedroom.
General advice and precautions
Dust mite allergy
- Do not smoke
- Dribbling with salt water or steaming can temporarily provide some relief for the symptoms (the scientific effect of this treatment has not been demonstrated)
- Wipe off smooth surfaces in the house two to three times a week
- Have someone vacuum clean two or three times a week without a dust mite allergy
- Keep the house dry
- Smooth floor covering in the bedroom
- Allergenendense covers for pillow and mattress
- Wash all bedding once a week at 60 degrees
- Washable curtains in the bedroom
- Store books, toys and such like in a closed cupboard
- Discard pet
- If this is not possible, at least ensure that the pet does not enter the bedroom
Source : dokterdokter