Warning: this entry is self-indulgent and whiny!

I was diagnosed with asthma about 15 years ago. I think I’ve probably had some form of it my whole life, but never had a formal diagnosis. Along with the asthma diagnosis came an allergy test and the news that I was mildly allergic to dust mites, fescue pollen, and oak pollen.

I’ve been managing my asthma with various combinations of inhalers for the past 15 years, but this past winter has been very difficult. I’ve had a lot of colds, one bout of bronchitis, and I’ve been relying on my rescue inhaler much more than normal. The tightness in my chest has been present almost constantly.

I finally took myself to the asthma/allergy doc, and the news wasn’t good: my mild dust mite allergy has become a severe dust mite allergy (fescue and oak are still mild). So in addition to all sorts of new inhalers and pills for my asthma, I now have to figure out how to dust mite proof my bedroom.

My doc (and everything I’ve read) emphasizes the bedroom because you spend so much time there in close contact to soft surfaces (mattress, sheets, blankets, etc.). And there’s nothing that a dust mite likes more than soft surfaces that have been in close contact with humans.

I’ve been investigating the various strategies for dust mite control, and have learned a few things:
1) it’s important to encase your pillows, mattress and box spring in something dust mites can’t get through.
2) it’s important to wash all bedding that is not encased at least once a week in very hot (130-degree plus) water.
3) eliminate clutter from the bedroom, and damp-dust all surfaces often to remove dust.

In addition, dust mites are not airborne, so air filters are not an effective strategy. The three above seem to be the biggest strategies, although there are others (remove carpeting from the bedroom, remove curtains, use chemicals to kill mites) that can be implemented. I’ll probably write here about how I end up dealing with this. I’ve discovered that the various methods of evaluating products used to implement these strategies are not standardized, and I’ve been wading through a lot of material to try and figure out what will be helpful. It also seems like most of the personal experiences that have been written up about dealing with a dust mite allergy have been written by parents about dealing with their children’s allergies — while these contain valuable insights, they aren’t always directly applicable to the questions I have.

But for now, I’m just feeling whiny and sad. I don’t want a severe dust mite allergy! I have enough breathing problems, it’s not fair that I have to have some crazy allergy too! The only result of that allergy test that would have been worse would have been a cat allergy. But I’m still completely negative for that. Thank god.

Posted on April 11th, 2008 by Katxena