How Long Do Dust Mites Live? An Expert's Guide to Allergens and Asthma

Dust mites are microscopic, insect-like pests that usually live in house dust. They feed on dead skin scales, or dander, shed by people and pets, and are a great source of allergens that can worsen allergies and asthma. Although a dust mite can only live for 2 to 3 months, the allergen particles they produce can remain in the air even after the mite has died. Humidity is the most important factor in determining if a home has high levels of dust mites, as they need a constant supply of moisture to survive.

In dry climates, dust mites are almost nowhere to be found. Dust mites can live on mattresses, bedding, upholstered furniture, rugs, and curtains in your home. Cockroaches are another source of indoor allergens and have been linked to an increase in asthma symptoms. When a person sensitive to dust mites inhales these particles, it can cause allergy symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, runny nose, congestion, and itchy and watery eyes.

Dust mites can also cause asthma symptoms such as coughing or wheezing. People with dust mite allergies or with asthma caused by dust mite allergy should reduce dust mites in their home. This can be done by using dust mite covers, a good vacuum, bare floors, and non-porous furniture. Taking pills to treat dust mite allergy is an option but if you're also allergic to pollen and ragweed you'll need injections.

Allergy shots can significantly reduce symptoms for many years in a row. In order to reduce the dust mite population in your home, Portnoy recommends using a whole-house dehumidification system. Additionally, store flour in sealed plastic containers and if you suffer allergic reactions to cereal flour but test negative for grain allergy you should also be tested for dust mite allergy. Finally, use dust containers placed on top of the trash but be aware that the release of clouds of allergens into the air can cause allergy or asthma symptoms.

Brittany Kleck
Brittany Kleck

Typical food practitioner. General tv scholar. Hipster-friendly tea geek. General reader. Infuriatingly humble tv fanatic. Passionate zombie junkie.