Spring is in the air. Literally. From weeds to spores to grass and tree pollens, the warm weather is almost here, driving airborne allergen levels through the roof. That means your allergy symptoms -- the sniffling, sneezing, and itchy eyes -- are in overdrive and apt to stay that way for months.
What can you do? WebMD asked some of the country's leading allergy experts to weigh in with answers to your top questions about spring allergies. Here are suggestions for helping you find some much-needed...
Dust mites are everywhere -- anywhere there are people or animals, warm temperatures, and high humidity. They like to be indoors, where they can get plenty of food like mold spores and dead skin cells from people and pets.
If you are sensitive or allergic to them, you may have:
Dust mites settle down in carpet, draperies, stuffed animals, and upholstered furniture. Mattresses, pillows, and soft bedding are favorite hangouts.
Dust Mite-Proof Covers
Dust mite covers really work. One study found that some kids with asthma need less asthma medicine when they used mattress and pillow covers. Tests of their mattresses showed that dust mites colonies there dwindled. But never decrease your asthma medicine unless instructed by your doctor.
You can find dust mite covers for mattresses, pillows, and box springs at mattress and allergy supply stores and in a variety of materials.
Plastic or vinyl covers with zippers help seal in allergens so you don't inhale them when sleeping.
Plastic or vinyl covers are easier to keep clean than covers made of natural fibers.
Many plastic covers have an outer layer of material like nylon to make them more comfortable.
If possible, cover your mattress and pillows when they are new.
Put duct tape or electrical tape over cover zippers to double-block dust-mites from coming and going.
More Ways to Minimize Dust Mites
Use a bed with a wooden or metal frame.
Wash bedding in hot water. Cold water does not kill dust mites.
Wash sheets and pillowcases at least once a week. Wash comforters and bedspreads every one to two months.
Consider using an electric blanket, which can reduce humidity on bed surfaces.
Wash and dry stuffed animals often and keep them off beds.
Clean mattresses in late winter and early spring. That will kill any dust mites that survived the winter and reduce their numbers in the summer months.