“Home fever” is a term used by Allergy UK to describe out-of-season hay fever-like symptoms. The most common of these are runny nose, sneezing, and itchy eyes, symptoms which the charity reports have risen greatly in recent years. Unlike regular hay fever, which is usually triggered by high pollen levels that vary seasonally, “home fever”, Allergy UK suggests, is triggered by allergens such as dust mites, moulds, home cleaning products and pets that are present in the home or office. These can cause symptoms throughout all seasons.
NHS Choices reports that indoor allergies are very common and that 10-20% of the population has an indoor allergy. The top estimate of 20% would be broadly in line with the figure suggested by Allergy UK,
How widespread is it?
According to www.nhs.uk, at least 12 million Britons now suffer from allergies caused by dust mites, The Independent has reported. The newspaper says that a report by the charity Allergy UK has revealed an epidemic of “home fever”, a range of symptoms caused by dust mites and other triggers around the home.
The report has been published as part of Indoor Allergy Week, which is intended to raise awareness of the kind of steps that can be taken to remove allergy triggers, or ‘allergens’, from the home. A survey in the report suggests that, currently, around two-thirds of people with allergies experience symptoms such as sneezing and itchy eyes caused by allergens including dust mites, chemicals, pets and mould.
How To Know You May Have Home Fever
The most commonly reported symptoms of indoor allergy or “home fever” were runny nose (67.8%), sneezing (66.9%) and itchy eyes (62.1%).
Other findings include:
- 58.9% of indoor allergy sufferers found their symptoms were worse in the bedroom. The authors suggest that this was due to dust mites in the bed, quoting figures that “the average bed harbours 2 million dust mites and the average pillow doubles in weight over a period of six months due to dust mite faeces”.
- 16% of allergy sufferers said they wash bed linen every three weeks or less often, and 58% of those surveyed said they are washing at 30 or 40 degrees. This is two weeks longer than Allergy UK recommends and at a temperature that they say does not kill any dust mites present.
- 13% of allergy sufferers had had their current mattress for 11 years or more, and 3% kept theirs for 20 years or longer.
What Happens When You Have an Allergic Reaction?
When a person who is allergic to a particular allergen comes into contact with it, an allergic reaction occurs. This begins when the allergen (for example, dust mite droppings) enters the body, triggering an antibody response. The antibodies attach themselves to special cells, including cells called mast cells. When the allergen comes into contact with the antibodies, these cells respond by releasing certain substances, one of which is called histamine. These substances cause swelling, inflammation and itching of the surrounding tissues, which is extremely irritating and uncomfortable.
Common symptoms associated with allergic conditions include:
- sinus pain
- runny nose
- nettle rash / hives
- itchy eyes, ears, lips throat and mouth
- shortness of breath
- sickness, vomiting & diarrhoea
- increase in nasal and airway secretions
What You Can Do About It
Allergy UK recommends many ways to manage symptoms and reduce the amount of indoor allergens in the home.
- Dust regularly but use a damp duster first, then a dry cloth. Otherwise, you are just moving the dust around.
- Wash all bedding (for example sheets and blankets) every week. Washing at 60 degrees or above will help eliminate house dust mites. The allergens produced by house dust mites dissolve in water so, while washing at lower temperatures will wash the allergens away temporarily, the mites will survive and produce more allergen after a while.
- Washable stuffed toys should be washed as frequently and at the same temperature as bedding. Alternatively, if the toy cannot be washed at 60 degrees place it in a plastic bag in the freezer for at least 12 hours once a month and then wash at the recommended temperature.
- Reduce humidity by increasing ventilation. Use trickle-vents in double-glazing or open windows. Use extractor fans in bathrooms and kitchens.
- Get your carpets and mattress professionally cleaned by a specialist who uses an anti dust mite product that destroys the mites and prevents them from returning.
We spend 1/3 of our lives living defenseless with the enemy known as dust mites. Dust mites are in mattresses, carpets and soft toys and furnishings, and feed off of the flakes shedding from human skin.
According to Allergy UK, these symptoms are worse at night, just when we’re needing a good nights rest!
If your carpets and mattresses haven’t been professionally cleaned with an anti dust mite treatment in the last two years, and you or your family find yourselves with allergy symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing, or itchy eyes, you will benefit from a thorough clean. Contact me on 01304 381165, or request a free quote.