The Truth About Dust Mites
Dust mites feed on organic detritus such as flakes of shed human skin and flourish in almost all environments. House dust mites are a common cause of asthma and allergic symptoms worldwide. The mite’s gut contains potent digestive enzymes (notably proteases) that persist in their feces and are major inducers of allergic reactions such as wheezing, coughing, itchy red eyes, nasal blockings and other undesirable symptoms that have a negative effect on humans. The mite’s exoskeletons can also contribute to allergic reactions. The European house dust mite and the American house dust mite are two different species, but are not necessarily confined to Europe or North America.
House dust mites, due to their very small size and translucent bodies, are barely visible to the unaided eye. A typical house dust mite measures 0.25-0.3 millimeters in length. For accurate identification, one needs at least 50x magnification or an electron microscope. The body of the house dust mite has a striated cuticle. Like all species of the arachnid family, house dust mites have eight legs.
The average life cycle for a male house dust mite is 20 days. A mated female house dust mite can last up to 70-90 days, laying 60 to 100 eggs in the last 5 weeks of her life. In its normal life span, a house dust mite will produce approximately 2,000 fecal particles and an even larger number of partially digested enzyme-covered dust particles.
The house dust mite survives in all climates, even at high altitude. House dust mites thrive in the indoor environment provided by homes, specifically in bedrooms, family rooms, and kitchens. Dust mites survive extremely well in mattresses, carpets, furniture and bedding, with figures around 100-500 dust mites occupying every 1 gram of dust. Even in dry climates, house dust mites survive and reproduce easily.
Allergens produces by house dust mites in are among the most common triggers of asthma. There are at least 15 mite allergens which are subdivided into groups. Group 1 and 2 allergens are the most problematic. Studies have shown the mean attributable fraction of adult asthma due to atopic sensitization was 30% for sensitization to dust mites. The allergy occurs because the immune system of allergy-affected individual, for reasons not fully understood, misinterprets a usually innocuous substance as a disease agent and begins producing a type of antibody against it. This is called the “primary antibody response.” The antibody produced during this response binds to basophils in the bloodstream and to a similar type of cell called mast cells in the tissues. When the person again encounters the allergen, these basophils and mast cells release histamine, prostaglandins and leukotrienes, which causes inflammation of the surrounding tissues, resulting in allergic symptoms
Contrary to popular belief, dust mites cannot be removed from bedding by separating the bedding from skin or by using some type of mattress cover. In some cases, that will cause dust mite populations to grow faster on the surface. The most effective way to treat dust mite allergies is to use a professional service that uses a high-powered HEPA filtration extraction device combined with a UV-C germicidal light on all surfaces that come in contact with humans.
A 10-year controlled study in 60 mite sensitized, asthmatic children, showed almost complete remission of asthma in those environments professionally treated using the method described above and that this remission was still apparent 5 years after continuing regular treatments. The finding was supported by a review of 39 mite-triggered asthmatic children, who were suffering on average of 8 acute exacerbations per year. After regular treatments, generally at 4-6 month intervals, the exacerbation rate was reduced by 95%.
Attempts at cleaning mattresses an upholstered items with any type of consumer household vacuum cleaner will not remove dust mite allergens, but instead throw them into the air and increase their volatility, which is why professional dust mite eradication services are recommended. A home allergen reduction plan has been recognized as being an essential part to the management of asthma symptoms and therefore all aspects of the home environment should be professionally treated.
COMMON BELIEFS AND MISCONCEPIONS
Allergy and asthma sufferers are often advised to avoid feather pillows due to the presumed increase of the house dust mite allergen. However, according to a 1996 study from the British Medical Journal, the reverse is true. The study showed that polyester fiber pillows contained more than 8 times the total weight of dust mite fecal matter.
House dust mites reproduce quickly enough that their effect on human health can be significant. Since dust mites depend on moisture to survive, they are most often found in bedding such as pillows and most types of upholstered items found throughout a home, hotel room or any type of multi-bed facility. Dust mites can be reduced by replacing carpets with hard surfaces that are easier to clean. Dust mites that may exist in linens can be eradicated by washing and drying these items in lethal temperatures of 221 degrees F or more.
Call SERVPRO® of Chesapeake today at (757)523-9700 for your home dust mite needs.