Dust mites are considered to be among the top triggers of year-round allergies and asthma across the world. If you suffer from dust mite allergies, you likely know the importance of keeping your home as dust-free as possible. Because dust mites and their debris are typically harboured in upholstered furniture, you may assume that bean bags like the ones sold by Bean Bags R Us aren’t suitable for your home. Like any upholstered item, bean bags can get dust mites; however, they are also remarkably easy to keep dust-free and can be safely used even by those who suffer from dust mite allergies.
What Are Allergies?
Your immune system produces proteins called antibodies that work to protect it from invaders like bacteria, viruses and airborne pollutants. When it detects a foreign substance like pollen, dust mites or pet dander, the antibodies produced by your immune system trigger an inflammatory response in the lungs and nasal passages. This is what is known as an allergic reaction.
If you are continually exposed to allergens that your immune system considers to be harmful, like dust mites or dander, this inflammatory response may become chronic. In other words, you may develop an ongoing allergic reaction. This reaction may cause you to suffer from the unpleasant symptoms of allergies on a continual basis. When this occurs, it is regarded as asthma. Asthma is another leading cause of respiratory problems.
What Are Dust Mites?
Contrary to popular belief, dust mites are not insects. Rather, they are arthropods, which means that they are closely related to spiders and ticks. At less than one-third of a millimetre in size, they are not visible to the naked eye and can only be seen under a microscope. White in colour, they have eight legs, and they thrive in temperatures between 20 and 25 degrees Celsius and in humidity levels of between 70 to 80 per cent.
These pests absorb humidity for hydration rather than drink it. For sustenance, they consume organic matter; in particular, they consume dead skin cells, which are shed voraciously by humans. Indeed, during the course of a single day, a human may shed up to 1.5 grams of dead skin – more than enough to feed more than 1 million dust mites!
What is a Dust Mite Allergy?
Because they thrive in moist, warm conditions and primarily feed off of dead human skin cells, dust mites tend to live in fabrics that are found around the home. Dust mite allergies aren’t caused by the mites themselves but by the debris that they leave behind in such fabrics, including their faeces and dead bodies. The proteins that are found in this debris are the actual cause of dust mite allergies. This is why some are concerned about the possibility of dust mites being found in things like bean bags.
Risk factors for developing dust mite allergies include:
- being a child or young adult
- having a family history of dust mite allergies
- ongoing exposure to dust mites – especially in childhood
Primary Symptoms of Dust Mite Allergies
You may suffer from dust mite allergies if you experience the following symptoms:
- runny nose
- nasal congestion
- itchy, watery or red eyes
- itchiness in the throat, nose or roof of the mouth
- swollen, blue-coloured skin beneath the eyes
- post-nasal drip
- facial pressure and pain
These symptoms may vary from mild to severe. If you notice that they are persisting for more than a week, you should see your doctor to find out if you have allergies to dust mites.
When a dust mite allergy becomes chronic, asthma may be diagnosed. Some of the most common symptoms of asthma include:
- pain or tightness in the chest
- whistling or wheezing when exhaling
- difficulty breathing
- fits of coughing or sneezing that are exacerbated by respiratory viruses
- difficulty sleeping due to shortness of breath and other symptoms
Complications of Dust Mite Allergies
When asthma develops due to a dust mite allergy, exposure to dust mite allergens can make it difficult to manage symptoms. In turn, you may become more at risk of suffering from asthma attacks that require immediate medical attention or even emergency care.
Ongoing exposure to dust mites can also cause sinus infections. These occur when the tissues of the nasal passages become swollen, blocking the follow cavities that connect to them, which are otherwise known as sinuses. Chronic inflammation of these passages can increase your risk of developing sinusitis, or an infection of the sinuses.
How Are Dust Mite Allergies Diagnosed?
If you suspect that you may have a dust mite allergy, you should get a referral to an allergist – a doctor who specialises in diagnosing and treating allergies. To diagnose an allergy, an allergist first examines the lining of the nose with a lighted instrument. If the tissues are pale, swollen or even bluish, this could be a sign of an allergy at work.
An allergist may also perform the following tests to diagnose a dust mite allergy:
- Skin Prick Test: The allergist will prick the surface of your skin – usually the forearm – with a needle that contains tiny amounts of purified dust mite allergen extracts. After 15 minutes, they will observe the site of the skin prick. If an itchy, red wheal has developed, you likely have a dust mite allergy. The worse this hive-like reaction is, the more severe your allergy to dust mites is.
- Allergy Blood Test: Known as an IgE blood test, this screening test may be used if a skin test is not able to be performed for some reason. The blood is screened for specific allergy-causing antibodies, and it can also gauge how sensitive you are to them.
Common Treatments for Dust Mite Allergies
Medical interventions may help to treat the symptoms of dust mite allergies. For example, medications like antihistamines and corticosteroids may be prescribed to alleviate symptoms like sneezing; itchy eyes; and the symptoms of hay fever. Decongestants may be used to make it easier for you to breathe.
Nasal irrigation is also commonly prescribed for treating the symptoms of dust mite allergies. A neti pot or squeeze bottle may be used to flush mucus and other irritants out of the sinuses; saline, or saltwater, rinse is used.
In the case of severe dust mite allergies, immunotherapy may be prescribed. This is used to “train” the immune system not to react to dust mite allergens. You are exposed to minute doses of those dust mite proteins via once or twice weekly shots. Over the first three to six months, these doses are gradually increased. Maintenance shots are then required every month for a period of three to five years.
The Best Treatment for Dust Mite Allergies? Avoiding Dust Mite Allergens
Needless to say, most people would rather avoid medical interventions unless absolutely necessary. Since dust mites are a fact of life, simply avoiding the fabrics that harbour them and their debris isn’t practical or possible. However, there are many ways to reduce your level of exposure to dust mite allergens. Doing this can allow you to live happily without having to resort to medications, immunotherapy or other treatments.
Some of the top ways to reduce dust mite exposure in the home include:
- Keep humidity levels in check. Dust mites love humidity levels of between 70 and 80 per cent, so it pays to keep levels well below that in your home. An inexpensive device called a hygrometer may be used to assess indoor humidity levels. If they are above 50 per cent or so, devices like air conditioners and dehumidifiers may be used to bring them down to levels that aren’t nearly as appealing to dust mites. That way, you can keep things like bean bag chairs in the home without worrying so much about them becoming infested by dust mites.
- Vacuum the home regularly. Invest in a high-quality vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. Use it to thoroughly vacuum your entire home on a regular basis. If you have a severe allergy to dust mites, you might want to see if someone else can do the work for you because the act of vacuuming will stir up those allergens and could exacerbate symptoms.
- Remove dust often. Ditch the feather duster to keep dust from settling around the home. Using something like that can do more harm than good because it often just pushes things like dust mite allergens into the air, where they can be breathed in more easily. Instead, use a lightly oiled mop or cloth to wipe down surfaces around the home. Rinse out the mop or cloth regularly as you clean to avoid spreading around dust mite debris even more.
You should also consider the following:
- Remove unnecessary things. If at all possible, remove any carpeting in the home and replace it with hard floorings like vinyl or hardwood flooring. Likewise, declutter the house as much as possible to provide fewer areas for dust. Invest in upholstered furniture that can easily be cleaned on a regular basis; bean bag chairs from Bean Bags R Us are excellent examples because they have removable covers that can be cleaned and sanitized with ease.
- Install a high-efficiency media filter in your HVAC system. Reduce the number of airborne particulates in the home, including dust mites and their debris, by having a high-efficiency media filter installed in your furnace and air conditioning unit. Make sure that the one that you use has a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, or MERV, rating of 11 or 12. Leave the fan going, and change the filter every three months for best results.
- Wash fabrics regularly. Dust mites and their debris overwhelmingly end up in fabrics around the home, so wash them on a regular basis. Things like bedding should ideally be washed weekly. Use water that is at least 54.4 degrees Celsius or higher in temperature. If a fabric can’t be exposed to hot water, place it in a dryer at a temperature of 54.4 degrees Celsius or higher for at least 15 minutes. Then wash and dry it as usual. Another option is to place fabrics in freezing temperatures for around 24 hours, which eliminates the dust mites but not their allergens.
How to Keep Bean Bags Free from Dust Mites
Since all fabrics can harbour dust mites and their allergy-causing debris, bean bag chairs can get dust mites. However, by purchasing high-quality bean bags and maintaining them as specified by the manufacturer, you can still enjoy using them in your home even if you suffer from dust mite allergies.
The best way to treat dust mite allergies is by eliminating dust mites and their debris wherever you can. Regular washing and cleaning are the best ways to do that. Happily, our range of bean bag chairs is designed with easy-care, cleaning and maintenance in mind. Most include removable covers. The covers can be hand-washed, machine washed or dry cleaned. The inner lining with the bean bag beads, or pellets, is kept entirely separate.
Easy Care Tips
Some easy-care tips for the materials that are found in our most popular bean bag chairs include:
- Cotton Twill: Cotton twill, as featured on our Rio Cotton bean bag chair, can be machine washed or washed by hand. This chair includes a washing bag that makes it a snap to empty it of beads. It can then be washed with ease.
- Faux Suede: The faux suede that’s found on our Cocoon Suede chair can be washed by hand, in the machine or dry cleaned.
- Linen and Denim: Linen and denim covers, which are found on our Funky Chairs and Cuba Denim bean bag chairs, may be washed in the machine or by hand.
- PU-Coated Polyester: Covers featuring this material, including those found on our Merlin and Big Boppa bean bag chairs, maybe spot cleaned, hand washed or machine washed.
- Olefin: This high-quality outdoor fabric, featured on top sellers like the Copacabana chair, is very sensitive to heat and therefore should be hand washed and air-dried.
As you can see, you don’t have to forgo the fun, comfort and style of bean bag chairs if you suffer from dust mite allergies. Simply clean them on a regular basis to keep them free from dust mites and their debris. You can then enjoy them just as much as anyone else!