Have Asthma? Give Up the Dust Mite Fight
A startling new piece of research turns dust mite trigger prevention on its head.
All the things we do to avoid dust mites in our homes may be a big, fat waste of time and money. And I mean every measure we’ve tried may not work. I’m talking the mattress and pillow covers, the stuffed animal method, the HEPA-filtered vaccuum. The whole deal.
Because this study from Denmark shows dust mite levels are so high in homes that even if we succeed in reducing their numbers, they’re still going to cause flares. Plus, the research shows no reduction in flares for lots of people even when dust mites were cut by 90%.
Usually when I read about asthma research, I approach changes in AG’s treatment or environment with a skeptical eye, not because I don’t believe the studies, but because lots of times the evidence simply points to the need for further research. This one’s worth highlighting for a couple of reasons:
1. It comes from the Nordic branch of the Cochrane Collaboration, a widely respected, volunteer independent research group.
2. If my non-scientific brain thinks about the dust mite problem long enough, I can see the logic behind these results. The damn things are tiny, and they’re everywhere.
3. Most research write-ups use conditional words like suggest, seem, indicate, might, possibly, etc. But just check out some of this study’s statements in today’s Washington Post:
–We can conclude with confidence that there is no need to buy expensive vacuum cleaners or mattress covers or to use chemical methods against house dust mites, because these treatments do not work.
–Reviews and guidelines should reflect the facts. . . . It is difficult, perhaps, to realize that we cannot really do anything, but there is no evidence to support these guidelines, and they are misleading. It is about time specialists start becoming honest with patients. — study author Peter Gotzsche
That’s pretty confident language.
I’m afraid my own can’t match it yet because A) I didn’t do the research and B) I’m not the asthma expert, just the blogger who happens to be an expert on parenting a 9 year-old kid with asthma. I’m dying to see what groups like the AAFA and the ALA have to say, though, and I’m betting they’ll address the topic soon.
As for my own feelings? They’re mixed. I’d hate to give up a weapon in my asthma arsenal, but I’d love to lose the cost of hypoallergenic bedding covers, considering the price of inhalers.
I’m also wondering how much of the Asthma Mom archives I’ll have to comb through to find and modify posts like this one.
On the other hand, I hate to dust. I rarely do it, and it would be nice not to feel guilty about it anymore.
There’s the potential for a much larger development based on this research, too. If asthma and allergy groups start changing their recommendations , all those companies that sell home products like HEPA vacuums and pillow and mattress covers would feel the pinch.
This could get interesting.