What You Need to Know About Dust Mites and COPD

Maybe you've stopped smoking and you're using your medications and oxygen therapy the way you're supposed to. You've started to make sure you're getting the right nutrition, and you've even started to incorporate light exercise into your daily routine. For some reason, however, you're having a hard time breathing, especially at night and in the morning. If you're also sneezing and experiencing other symptoms of a respiratory-affected allergy, dust mites are the likely culprit.

Dust mites are microscopic arachnids that live in dust and eat the dead skin cells that we shed. Seniors are among the age groups most sensitive to dust mite and dust allergies, and at least 20 million Americans experience allergy symptoms due to dust mites.

The dust that might be collecting in the corner of your living room behind the television set might seem like nothing more than an eyesore, but it's a breeding ground for dust mites and other things you don't want to be breathing. While you might not be allergic to the tiny bugs themselves with a dust allergy, you would be allergic to their feces and exoskeletons that they shed.

If you have a chronic lung disease like asthma or COPD, an allergy to dust mites can cause exacerbations, otherwise known as flare-ups in the severity of these diseases. Allergies are triggers for lung conditions because they cause inflammation in the airways and an increase in mucus production – both of these things will only cause the disease to worsen, and you can quickly go from breathing and feeling fine, to wheezy, sneezy and needing extra medication to fix the problem.

Taking allergy medications and corticosteroids (as prescribed by your doctor) will only temporarily give you some relief. If you don't get to the root of the problem, it will only continue and get worse.

How to Get Rid of Dust Mites

  • You lie down to go to sleep at night on your pillow and mattress, covered in freshly washed linens. Unfortunately, just because these things are clean doesn't mean you aren't breathing in dust mite debris. Your bed is a dust mite's favorite place to live since you sleep there and provide them with plenty of tiny flakes of dead skin to eat. While we can't help the natural shedding of our skin cells, we can help prevent dust mites from living where we sleep.
  • Wash your pillows with hot water and dry them on the highest temperature setting. You can also just put them in the dryer on the highest heat for a quicker solution. If you don't use the highest heat setting, the dust mites can still survive.
  • Vacuum your mattress, box spring and the carpet in your room, as well as any window treatments. Wear a face mask while you do this and open the windows. Place a fan in the windows to help suck the dusty air out of the room that you kick up. Do this in other carpeted and upholstered surfaces of your home.
  • Put dust covers on your pillows, mattress, and duvet if you have one. Wash your sheets and blankets at least once a week with hot water.
  • Wipe down hard surfaces that collect dust with a wet cloth.

Information on this page is for reference and educational purposes only. For more information about COPD, talk to your doctor or primary care provider.

Page last updated: October 30, 2018


About Scott Ridl: Scott joined American Medical Sales and Rentals in 2008 as a Web Manager and Content Writer. He is a writer and designer. He is extensively trained on oxygen therapy products from leading manufacturers such as Inogen, Respironics, Chart, Invacare, ResMed and more. Scott works closely with respiratory therapists and oxygen specialists to educate the community about oxygen therapy products, COPD, asthma and lung diseases. He writes weekly columns and is passionate about educating the community on oxygen therapy and respiratory issues.

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