Dust Mites: Is Resistance Futile?
Decimating Dust Mites Doesn't Stop Asthma, but Doctors Not Deterred
WebMD News Archive
Mite Resistance Not Futile, Allergists Say
Even though researchers were able to significantly reduce dust-mite
allergens in several studies, Gotzsche and Johansen note that this did not help
"The explanation that we find most plausible for the lack of effect of
the interventions is, therefore, that the methods we have reviewed do not
adequately reduce mite antigen levels," they write. "Mite-sensitive
asthmatic patients are usually sensitive to other allergens, so that successful
elimination of only one allergen may have limited benefit, whatever its
That last phrase is key, says allergist Leonard Bielory, MD, director of the
asthma research center at UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, Newark.
"Getting rid of dust mites alone is not the answer," Bielory tells
WebMD. "When we discover that patients have dust-mite allergy, we tell them
it is rarely just dust mites."
Allergist Jonathan A. Bernstein, MD, of the University of Cincinnati,
bristles at the suggestion that mite resistance is futile for allergic
"You have to recognize that people can be sensitive to multiple
allergens -- as well as to non-allergic triggers such as odorants, irritating
chemicals, tobacco smoke, mildew, and things of that nature," Bernstein
tells WebMD. "So these studies with just one or even two or three
interventions are fraught with limitations. Just to target dust mites and then
to say these interventions don't work is out of context with patients' real
Over time, Bielory and Bernstein insist, reducing allergens in the home and
in the office will help patients suffering from dust-mite allergy and asthma.
They say reducing dust mites is a good place to start.
How to Fight the Mite
It's really not feasible to permanently rid your house of dust mites, says
Greg Baumann, senior scientist for the National Pest Management
"They are here to stay for sure," Baumann tells WebMD. "The pest
control industry really does not deal with dust mites because there are so few
products out there professionals can use. They are very, very hard to control.
You do not have any magic wand to wave."
Entomologist Ron Harrison, PhD, director of training for the pest-control
firm Orkin Inc., agrees with Baumann.