People Keep Asking Me, “What Are Dust Mites?”

"You're killing us, Larry!"

"You're killing us, Larry!"

We’ve been talking a lot about dust mites on our television and radio commercials of recent, and these little guys have been getting a lot of attention ever since. These days when I’m approached on the street, I’m asked about them just as often as I’m asked about my accountant, Irwin. So, to further educated the people of So Cal on sleep health, here’s some answers to the questions I’m most frequently asked about the little critters in our ads and, most likely, in your bed.

What are dust mites?

Dust mites are microscopic bugs that are closely related to spiders and live on dead skin cells shed by humans and other animals. Dust mites are quite tiny but can be visible to the naked eye when on a dark background. A typical house dust mite measures 420 micrometers in length and 250–320 micrometers in width. Both male and female adult dust mites are creamy blue and have a rectangular shape. Dust mites live approximately 10 to 19 days and a mated female can live up to 70.

How do they affect my allergies?

Dust mites by themselves aren’t very harmful to a person’s allergies, but their droppings are. Many people are genetically predisposed to being allergic to dust mite droppings whereas others can become allergic after prolonged exposure. According to Darryl C. Zeldin, acting director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Services, 18% to 30% of Americans are allergic to dust mites’ waste products. According to the Mayo Clinic, dust mite proteins cause an inflammation of the nasal passages (allergic rhinitis), causing sneezing, runny nose and other symptoms. Dust mite proteins also cause asthma which inflames and contracts the airways and can cause serious health issues.

Why do they like sleeping in MY bed and pillows?

Dust mites live off of skin cells shed by humans as well as their body oils, perspiration and saliva. Home furnishings, including mattresses and pillows are the perfect place for dust mites to take residence and reproduce because of the ample food supply. Dust mites especially love mattresses and pillows because they thrive in warm and humid environments. A typical used mattresses can have anywhere from 100,000 to 10 million dust mites living inside. In eight years, the average mattress will double in weight due to the accumulation of skin cells, body oils, dust mites and their droppings.

How can I eliminate dust mites?

If your mattress is over eight years old, it’s most likely infested with dust mites and should be replaced. Dust mites can be managed by washing your sheets once a week, vacuuming your mattress and replacing your pillows every two years. A mattress protector can keep skin cells, body oils and secretions from accumulating in your bed, reducing the dust mites’ food supply. Latex mattresses are naturally resistant because of their density and hypoallergenic make-up and have been found to relieve the symptoms associated with dust mite allergies.

Click here to learn more about hypoallergenic latex mattresses

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Published: July 8th, 2010 at 15:17
Categories: Uncategorized