Asthma Due to House Dust
House dust is not simply dirt, but a potent mixture of potentially allergenic materials, which can induce a severe asthmatic attack in prone individuals. The component of house dust include as:
- Fine fibres from linen, pillows, clothing, upholstery.
- food particles
- fungi spores
- pollen, dust
- dried leaves
- dust mites
- hair, animal fur & feathers
- dried saliva & urine from pets
- flakes of human & animal skin
Bacteria by-products in household dust can trigger asthma. The greater the exposure to house dust allergens, especially during windy days or during cleaning, the greater is the probability of getting an asthma attack.
Why does house dust cause allergy?
Bacteria by-products, called endotoxins in household dust trigger asthma and asthma related symptoms such as wheezing. Research shows that endotoxins in dust are found all over the house - bedrooms, living rooms, kitchen, furniture, curtains, bed…just everywhere.
Dust in the bedroom and kitchen is the biggest asthma trigger. Endotoxins from dust on bedroom floors, bedspreads, cushions, pillows are most strongly linked to adult asthma.
Dust mites ( tiny animals related to ticks and spiders that live in house dust) are another well-known asthma trigger found in dust. They leave droppings everywhere they go. Their droppings contain left-over enzymes, and it is these enzymes which are the most important part of mite dust in causing asthma and other allergic diseases. In fact, house dust mites and their droppings are the most important cause of asthma worldwide.
Dust can crop up even in rooms that look tidy and spotlessly clean . Dust can be of much fine quality which easily settle on surfaces and furniture around the house.
What are endotoxins?
Endotoxins are toxic substances found in the cell wall of bacteria and are only released when the bacteria ruptures or disintegrates. Because bacteria can be found everywhere in the home, the likelihood of their release is high. Once released, endotoxins can cause inflammation of the airways and lead to asthma symptoms. According to the studies, inhalation and exposure to endotoxins is common in homes. Indoor sources include - dust, pets, humidifiers, pests. Endotoxin concentrations are highest in kitchen and bed room floor dust.
Endotoxin exposure worsens asthma symptoms in adults, regardless of whether an individual has an allergy or not. This means that exposure to endotoxin increases asthma risk even in non-allergic individuals.
What are the warning symptoms of house dust induced asthma?
Early warning signs are usually experienced before the outbreak of an asthma attack, and by recognizing these signs, early treatment can be started. These signs are unique to each person. Some common warning signs include:
- Coughing - this often becomes worse at night or early in the morning.
- Wheezing - breathing with a squeaky sound and with great difficulty.
- Shortness of breath - due to insufficient supply of air
- Fast and/or noisy breathing along with panting.
Common symptoms of asthma include:
- Mood swings
- Stuffy and blocked nose
- Chin/ throat sensitivity and itching
- Feeling of tiredness
- Trouble in sleeping
There is no complete cure for house dust related asthma, attempt can be made to prevent its occurence. The main aim of treatment is to relieve symptoms and prevent complications.
- It is important to maintain cleanliness, and thereby prevent symptoms from getting worse. Any respiratory irritants should also be avoided.
- Inhaled medications (bronchodilators) that widen the airways and decrease inflammation help reduce symptoms such as wheezing.
- Antibiotics are also prescribed for infections, but depending on the severity of attack.
Always remember to seek professional medical advice about any treatment or change in treatment plans.
Preventive strategies -
- Dust the rooms thoroughly with a damp cloth, (so that the dust does not fly in the air) at least once a week.
- Wear protective gloves and a mask to cover face while cleaning to reduce exposure to dust and other irritants.
- Do not use blowers to clean surfaces. It will only aggravate and worsen your condition. Vacuum frequently. Use a vacuum that doesn't raise a dust cloud as it cleans.
- Reduce the number of soft toys, dried flowers, furry substances and other dust collectors around the house.
- Replace heavy and feathery linen and upholstery with washable curtains.
- Do not use carpets. It would be better if you keep bare floors (hard surfaces are easier to clean) with wood, tile, washable rugs.
- Wash all bedding, curtains in hot water every 10 days to kill house dust mites.
- Use air conditioning during hot, humid months to keep inside humidity low. This will slow the growth of dust and molds.
- Change or clean filters of air conditioners often to remove accumulated dust.