Dust Allergies

Columbia Asthma & Allergy Clinic

Allergists, Asthma Specialists, & Immunologists located in the Pacific Region

Dust allergies are one of the top causes of year-round allergy symptoms such as sneezing and a runny nose. If medications can’t provide enough relief, the doctors at Columbia Asthma & Allergy Clinic may recommend treatment with subcutaneous immunotherapy. To schedule an appointment, use the online booking feature or call one of the 13 offices throughout the Pacific Region, including Fremont, Oakland, Redwood City, Sunnyvale, San Mateo, and San Leandro, California; Clackamas and Gresham, Oregon; Bellevue, Fishers Landing, Longview, and Salmon Creek, Washington; and Eagle, Idaho.

Dust Allergies Q & A

What causes dust allergies?

Dust allergies develop when your immune system reacts to dust mites. Dust mites, which are too small to be visible, live on bedding, mattresses, upholstered furniture, carpets, and curtains, where they feed on flakes of skin shed by people and their pets. Mites thrive in warm, humid environments.

Dust contains the bodies of dead dust mites. Proteins in the mite debris trigger a dust allergy. When your immune system labels dust mite proteins as harmful, it releases chemicals that cause an allergic reaction every time you inhale dust containing mite debris.

What symptoms develop due to dust allergies?

Since a dust allergy primarily affects your nose, causing allergic rhinitis, you’ll develop symptoms such as:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Nasal congestion
  • Postnasal drip
  • Cough
  • Itchy nose, mouth, or throat
  • Itchy, red eyes

You may also experience facial pressure and pain around your sinuses if an infection develops due to congestion.

If you’re allergic to dust mites and you have asthma, there’s a good chance that inhaling dust will trigger an asthma attack, causing shortness of breath, chest tightness, and wheezing.

How are dust allergies treated?

Your doctor at Columbia Asthma & Allergy Clinic starts by reviewing your symptoms and performing a physical exam. If dust allergies are suspected, you may need a skin prick test, intradermal or blood test to verify dust mites as the source of your symptoms.  

Treatment for a dust allergy takes a two-pronged approach: taking medications to relieve symptoms, and taking steps to remove or avoid as much dust as possible. You can significantly lower the dust mite population by:

  • Using a dehumidifier or air conditioner, because dust mites can’t live in an environment where the humidity is 50% or less
  • Encasing your mattress and pillows in dust-proof covers
  • Washing all bedding once a week in hot water to kill dust mites
  • Freezing non-washable bedding overnight to kill dust mites
  • Using a damp rag to dust (a dry cloth stirs up dust mite debris)
  • Using a vacuum cleaner with a double-layered bag or HEPA filter

When your symptoms persist despite medications, your doctor at Columbia Asthma & Allergy Clinic may recommend allergy shots or sublingual immunotherapy. Both therapies provide small doses of your allergen, but sublingual therapy is administered with a tablet that dissolves under your tongue. 

Allergy shots and sublingual immunotherapy gradually desensitize your immune system so it stops reacting to dust mite proteins. 

Dust allergies can cause symptoms throughout the year. If you need symptom relief, call Columbia Asthma & Allergy Clinic or schedule an appointment online.