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Relief From Nighttime Dust Mite Attacks

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After years of waking up in the wee hours with a head full of mucus, the need to scarf yet another allergy pill disrupting my ability to sleep through the night, I recently decided to try something new.

I grew up allergic to cats in a house with four of them, and as an adult I still attributed my allergies to animal dander, though I no longer shared my home with anything furry. I recently learned, however, that a dust mite allergy might be contributing to my nighttime woes.

Dust mites, or Dermatophagoides farinae Hughes, typically live on dead skin cells, according to www.ehso.com. Though dander is their primary diet, they can also thrive on bits of food or fungus.

The life cycle of Dermatophagoides farinae Hughes is anywhere from two to four months, according to EHSO: one month transitioning from egg to adult, followed by one to three months of adulthood.

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The average bed can house anywhere from 100,000 to 10 million dust mites, according to www.mayoclinic.com. Dust mite “residue,” the allergenic culprit, consists of dead mites and mite feces.

A bit disgusted but optimistic about the possible implications for my own allergy issues, I bought a set of Aller-Ease brand mattress and pillow covers.

So far, I have been impressed with the results. It's nice to be able to sleep through the night, and I'm sure my roommates appreciate the lack of after-hours hacking and wheezing.

I was relieved, as well, to find that the covers are virtually undetectable beneath sheets and pillowcases. My only other experience with mattress covers involved a crunchy plastic one my parents bought my little brother when he started wetting the bed.

Encasing the mattress is a two-person job: one to hold the thing upright and one to slide the cover over it, giant-sock style. The cover itself is made of polypropylene and polyethylene. Care instructions on the package indicate it can be machine-washed and dried, but I wouldn't recommend going that route. Even using cold water and my dryer's "low heat" setting, as per instructions, my first cover warped a bit and had to be exchanged. Just use a damp cloth to wipe it down (the other officially-sanctioned care option). The pillow covers were hardier, surviving a hot-water wash with no problems. 

Of the many allergy-bedding options out there, Aller-Ease offers some of the most competitive prices. I outfitted two pillows and a queen-sized mattress for just under $50.

Besides sealing mattresses and pillows with a protective barrier, there are other ways to reduce your exposure to Dermatophagoides farinae Hughes.

The Mayo Clinic recommends purchasing synthetic bedding and washable stuffed toys, laundering bedding in hot water (at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit) once a week, maintaining low humidity in the home (30 to 50 percent relative humidity), removing dust-collecting clutter, dusting with a damp cloth, and vacuuming floors and upholstery using a machine with a HEPA-filter or a double-layered bag.

Of course, air-borne mite residue is at its highest during cleaning, so wear a dust mask or ask an allergy-free housemate to take over the dusting duties.

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About Amanada

  • Greetings Amanda,
    Have you ever had your mattress sanitized? You’ve probably never heard of it. There are many mattress sanitizers in this country having extreme difficulty getting across to Allergists and Immunologists the effectiveness of this process. Personally, I think it’s because we are not affiliated with the pharmaceutical companies and don’t offer any compensation like drug companies do for them to recommend their drugs. I believe this is negligence on their part and that they should be recommending it to ALL their patients and should be STEP 1 (clean mattress)as part of their health regimen. I apologize, but I get a little passionate when I know people are not given the whole truth about what’s available to them, not just because this is what I’m trying to do as a business but because it helps and it is CHEMICAL FREE. It follows the “Hippocratic Oath” in that it does no harm, and may do a world of good for sufferers. This 3 step process has been used in Europe for almost 20 years now. The process involves vacuuming your mattress, then using a UVC (germicidal light)to kill dust mites, bacteria, viruses, mold and then spraying with a chemical free spray that neutralizes the protein allergens created by dust mites that could possibly be left. I hope this email inspires you to check it out for yourself and let your allergist know if it helps and to recommend this to others. This vent was meant to inform! God bless!