All you need to know about the house dust mite

The associated diseases

Allergic asthma, rhinitis (hay fever), eczema, conjunctivitis and even symptoms of glue ear can be the result of house dust mite (HDM) allergy. These are common diseases of childhood and may appear separately or together.

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Allergic asthma

Asthma is a common long-term condition that can cause coughing, wheezing, tightness in the chest and breathlessness. The most common form of asthma is allergic asthma. Exposure to house dust mites is recognised as a major cause of allergic asthma. If an asthmatic patient is allergic to mites, continued exposure can make their asthma symptoms worse.

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Hay fever (rhinitis)

Symptoms of allergic hayfever are sneezing, itching, nasal discharge, a blocked nose or congestion. Once a nose is permanently "bunged-up" a patient can no longer tell what trigger caused the symptom. House dust mites are a common cause of year round hayfever. Chronic hayfever can also progress to involve other parts of the respiratory tract (e.g. the lungs).

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The allergy march

This is a term which describes the human progression of allergic disease. It starts in infancy with food allergens (eczema/gut disease), then progresses to respiratory disease (inhaled allergens). Children over the age of five are recognised as the most vulnerable group to suffer from mite related allergic disease. Exposure to house dust mites is heavily implicated in the later stages of "The Allergy March".

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Conjunctivitis

Symptoms include watery or itchy eyes or redness and burning. The eye has no mechanical barrier to stop the impact of allergens on its surface (pollen/mite droppings) and even teardrops can carry agents of allergy (histamine). Common household allergy triggers are animal dander, moulds and house dust mites.

Eczema (atopic dermatitis)

The early signs of eczema include redness, itching, weeping, oozing or crusting of the skin. Exposure to mite allergens can increase a "flare-up" or cause an eruption on non-diseased skin. Tests show that by reducing house dust mite exposure from mite allergic patient's environments improves the condition greatly.

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Glue ear

Symptoms of glue ear include temporary deafness or reduced hearing (especially in children). These symptoms can be caused by sticky secretions blocking the tube which connects the ears and nose. These secretions can be caused by allergy.