Composed of very fine fibers and debris (less than 500 micrometers in diameter), dust contains particles that can remain suspended in the air.
Photo Gustavo Fring in Pexels
Inhaled, it can cause several recurrent symptoms in allergic people. What are the causes and treatments? Explanations with Dr. Eric Thomas, allergist.
What is dust allergy
According to Inserm, between 25 and 30% of the population is allergic. It is a disease, linked to an abnormal and excessive reaction of the body when it comes into contact with sensitizing substances.
There are many allergens, inside (mites, animal hair, molds, cockroaches), outside (plants, molds, hymenopteran insects), also food and medicine.
Wood dust allergy
“When working with wood, substances in the bark (plant allergens, mosses) can escape and cause allergic symptoms after a certain period of repeated exposure,” says allergist Dr. Eric Thomas.
Allergy to paper dust
It can be caused by ink ingredients and preservative ingredients (such as sulfites).
Allergy to chalk dust
“The crumbly chalk stick releases particles that, when rubbed with the fingers, can cause allergenic skin lesions, while airborne dust is more likely to give symptoms of irritation in pre-existing (often allergic) respiratory inflammation,” says Dr. Thomas.
Allergy to barley dust
Cereals, such as wheat, oats or barley, produce dust: they can contain a multitude of organic and inorganic materials such as molds, mites, insects, pesticides, fertilizers… potentially a source of respiratory or skin allergy symptoms.
Allergy to concrete dust
“Grinding and drilling operations on concrete cause the release of dust, which was previously responsible for severe allergic dermatitis (“cement worker’s scabies”) when the cement contained chromium,” says Dr. Thomas.
Currently, this dust is rather responsible for non-specific irritation of the pre-existing mucous membrane (nose and bronchial tubes) and skin lesions.
Household dust allergy
Dust is not an allergen per se: it includes many allergens from dust mites, mold, pet hair and various insects.
Symptoms: Recognizing an allergy to dust
It is characterized by:
- A stuffy nose
- Sneezes in bursts, especially in the morning when you get out of bed
- A clear nasal discharge
- Itchy nose and throat
- Headaches when there is sinusitis
- A cough in the afternoon or evening, which may be a first sign of asthma.
- An asthma episode if the rhinitis is still persistent
Allergy is a disorder of the immune system: in the allergic person, the body mistakenly perceives the allergen as “dangerous”. When it comes into contact with dust, it produces allergy-specific antibodies (IgE antibodies) to defend itself.
These cause the release of several chemical mediators, the first of which is histamine. “This is what causes the whole cascade of embarrassing symptoms to occur.
The allergic process occurs when there is repeated exposure to the allergen, more easily when there are factors that promote it, such as a familiar allergic terrain, repeated exposure to pollutants,” the allergist adds.
What to do, who to consult?
Your doctor will first offer you treatment to relieve your allergy symptoms.
He will refer you to an allergology consultation if the symptoms are old and not sufficiently controlled by the first treatment (in particular the relapse immediately after stopping the medication).
Treatments: how to treat a dust allergy?
Treatment is initially based on anti-histamine-type drugs, available without a prescription in pharmacies. Presented in the form of pills, nasal spray or eye drops, they relieve sneezing, tingling and watery eyes.
If symptoms last for several weeks or months, consult a doctor. To relieve nasal congestion, a corticosteroid nasal spray is available.
“If the disorders are not adequately controlled by the previous treatments or if they relapse after stopping them, an allergen-specific treatment should be considered, which is allergen immunotherapy (or desensitization),” explains Dr. Thomas.
Only an allergist can identify the allergen or allergens that will be used for the modalities of this specific treatment, by performing 3 forms of exploration, interrogation (careful investigation to guide the research).
Skin tests (puncture tests with immediate reading after 15 minutes) and/or biological investigation of specific IgE antibodies for allergen battery (choice according to the environment of the patient collected and the circumstances of the appearance of the symptoms)“.
Skin tests, especially skin prick tests, can be performed at any age, even on infants.
Once the allergen is identified, the physician may consider the indication for desensitization.
Currently only the sublingual route is available, and the efficacy can only be obtained in a patient over 5 years of age. ” It involves periodically placing a few drops of allergen under the tongue.
Little by little, the vaccination effect (tolerance induction) is established and the annoying symptoms decrease, or even disappear,” explains our expert.
The minimum duration of 3 years of treatment must be carefully respected to ensure a lasting effect over time when an interruption is foreseen.
The effectiveness rate is about 80% for most available allergens.
Homeopathy can help you. A specific medicine can be associated with the powder: Dermatophagoïdes pteronyssimus 30 CH, at a rate of one dose every Sunday for the first month, then every other Sunday for three months. To be re-evaluated later.
Next, a drug of the allergic process: pulmonary histamine 15CH 5 granules each morning. To be completed according to associated symptoms:
- In case of sneezing and profuse rhinorrhea: Allium strain 9CH
- Case of watery eyes: Euphrasia 9CH
- In case of red, dry and swollen eyes and blocked nose: Apis mellifica 15CH
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