Dust allergies and asthma

How do I avoid dust if I have asthma?


Asthma is a respiratory condition characterised by breathlessness, coughing, wheezing and a tight chest. It’s treated by the use of inhalers which help to prevent and relieve symptoms and asthma attacks. There are many environmental factors that can trigger asthma. One of these is dust.


How does dust affect asthma?

Dust mites are the cause of allergic reactions after coming into contact with dust. These small particles live inside dust and many items inside your household such as carpets, mattresses, furniture, towels and clothes. They are invisible and impossible to completely eliminate.

While they are harmless to most people, they are a common asthma trigger. Breathing in air where dust mites occupy the area is an irritant to your airways if you are sensitive to dust mites. This can cause you to experience wheezing, coughing and breathlessness. Your chest might feel tight and an asthma attack could occur.

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How do I know if I’m allergic to dust?

You may notice the symptoms listed above alongside an itchy, runny or blocked nose, itchy eyes and sneezing. These symptoms are often more prominent during activities like dusting, moving furniture or anything which disturbs dust. Keeping a note of how and when your symptoms occur can help to identify what’s causing them. Discuss your symptoms with your doctor if you are unsure.


What’s the best way to avoid dust if I have asthma?

Keeping your house clean and minimising dust as much as possible might help, but there is little evidence that this makes a difference given the nature of dust mites. Taking preventive medication for your asthma is the best way to manage it. This means that your airways are less inflamed and sensitive, therefore protected against coming into contact with dust or other triggers.

You can limit dust mites around the house, however. If feasible, looking into having wooden or vinyl floors instead of carpet, surfaces like leather or blinds that are easy to clean and less likely to gather dust and simply vacuuming and wiping down surfaces regularly are positive steps to take. If it’s not practical to make significant changes to your environment then do not worry. Making sure you have a sufficient and up to date asthma treatment plan will help you to combat a dust sensitivity and keep your symptoms at bay.

If you find that your symptoms are getting worse then report this to your doctor who will review your treatment plan and medication. A good indication that your asthma is not under control is if you are using your blue reliever inhaler three times a week or more.

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