As I’ve mentioned before, I’m allergic to dust mites—and according to my second round of allergy tests… That’s it. Dust. (I had a few weird semi-false-positives on my first skin test that didn’t react at all on my second one six months later). Among the world’s population, it’s approximated that 100 million of the 7 billion people on Earth have a dust mite allergy.1 These numbers, as you’d guess, are higher among people with asthma—but, the prevalence of house dust mite allergy among asthmatics is even greater than I’d imagined: of those living in high population areas (read: cities), 85% of people with asthma will also have a dust mite allergy.2 I knew dust mite allergies were common but I didn’t realize how prevalent they actually were.
I’m not terribly vigilant dealing with my dust mite allergy. I have the asthma & allergy certified friendly bedding, and finally after maybe 3 years of people asking me, I bought a dust-mite-proof mattress cover (because that’s how long it took me to find one that was not crinkly and also not super expensive). I often take antihistamines a day or so before and while traveling to mitigate any massive accumulations of dust mites in hotel rooms. Oh, and I won a Dyson vacuum back in the Spring, but I’ve used it in my room all of 3 times because in order to vacuum my floor I’d have to be able to find it. (Look, I presume covering my carpeted floor with clothes that I move around frequently is like, the next best thing to pulling out the carpet and putting in hardwood. Note: no actual science, I probably would not try this at home. I live with my parents and despite it being a discussion for the 8.5 years I’ve had asthma, the removing the carpet thing has never been beyond a discussion.). As I frequently tell people, including my doctors, textbook asthma and the textbook asthma life are not actually real things. Sure, some people may get a diagnosis of asthma and be informed of a dust mite allergy and go and completely redo their house and tear up the carpets and install all kinds of air purifiers and filters and get all the asthma/allergy friendly dust-mite resistant bedding and pillows and stuff. For most of us, though, that’s not terribly realistic. The bedding meant for us may work, but it’s terribly marked-up price wise because it’s special. I got mine on sale—I got my mattress cover on sale. I got my fancy vacuum for free. I’ve gotten lucky with everything except the pillow which was still some percent off but still expensive-ish compared to other pillows (which, ahem, has not been replaced every two years like it’s supposed to be (and honestly, I need three pillows so I’m not sure how useful it actually is).
I think the existence of these products is great. I do. But I’m not sure when physicians are recommending them, they realize the cumulative cost to patients for all of these little items. Sure, it’s not hard to vacuum your sleeping area everyday (if you can see your floor, I mean…), but that also doesn’t mean that it’s the first thing we want to do in the morning or the last thing we want to do before collapsing into bed at the end of the day.
I checked the price of a pillow similar to mine online, $40 USD. Comforter? The one I have retails for $134 USD (which isn’t ridiculous compared to a comforter set until you consider it’s just one comforter). I bought my mattress cover using rewards points from my pharmacy, but I want to say it was $50 CAD on sale (and the dollar was closer to par back then!). The Dyson Animal upright vacuum I won? Yeah it’s awesome (like, awesome), but it retails for $700 USD. (PS. Dyson didn’t tell me to write this, nor did they ever call back to ask my opinion like they said they would after my 30 day test period—they called it an in home trial but I still go to keep it forever which is pretty rad). I haven’t ever even looked at air purifiers because that’s not a part of my stuff I’ve purchased. But look, the bed stuff alone was over $200 USD—never mind tearing out your carpet and replacing it with hardwood or vinyl.
“Asthma-proofing” can be expensive. Some people may see great benefit from it, others not so much—just depends on how sensitive to allergens you are. There are also more and more products out there than ever before: make sure to do your research before making a purchase. (Maybe don’t wait as long as I did with the mattress cover, AKA years, but if you want a good deal…) And if you, like me, are adding items one piece at a time like I did—AND trialing different meds—it can he hard to tell what’s making the difference, or if it’s making a difference at all (in my case)!
Have you purchased any specially designed items to help reduce your dust mite exposure? How have they worked for you? Let us know in the comments!