Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
House dust is a mixture of components that can cause allergies.
Dust mites thrive in warm, humid places.
Cockroach allergy can be a major factor in serious asthma and nasal allergy.
Symptoms of hay fever (allergic rhinitis) and asthma can be caused by the inhalation of airborne mold spores.
The "dander," or skin shedding of an animal, is more potent in causing allergic reactions than the animal's fur or hair.
About 6% of the U.S. population is allergic to cats.
Indoor plants, especially those that are kept in damp wicker baskets, are a source of molds.
What are allergens?
Allergens are substances that are foreign to the body and can cause an allergic reaction in certain people. Allergens are everywhere in the world around us. Examples of common allergens are pollen, foods, and mold.
Your living environment may contain a variety of animal and plant life, most of which can become a source for allergens, the triggers of allergic reactions. Pollens are the main cause of seasonal allergic rhinitis. However, if your nasal stuffiness, sneezing, watery eyes, and constant postnasal drip bother you year-round, then you most likely have nonseasonal hay fever, sometimes referred to as perennial allergic rhinitis. This condition is typically caused by indoor allergens such as dust mites, cockroach parts, mold, and animal dander.
Understanding the nature and location of common and indoor sources of allergy is fundamental. The key to managing allergies that are caused by indoor allergens involves reducing your level of exposure to them or avoiding them entirely, if possible.
This article describes some of the most common sources of allergens found inside the home environment.
What are symptoms and signs of reactions to indoor allergens?
Indoor allergens can cause symptoms in susceptible people. Seasonal allergic rhinitis can be caused by indoor allergens and manifests as nasal congestion, runny nose, watering of the eyes, sneezing, and postnasal drip. Symptoms of asthma, including wheezing or difficulty breathing, can also occur in susceptible individuals.
Allergic reaction to indoor allergens can also cause conjunctivitis, an inflammation of the lining membranes of the eyes. Symptoms of this condition include red, watery, and itching eyes.
Allergic symptoms involving the skin include eczema, or allergic dermatitis, characterized by a skin rash associated with itching. This usually results from direct contact with the allergen.
If you are dust-sensitive, especially if you have allergies and/or asthma, you can reduce some of your misery by creating a "dust-free" bedroom. Dust may contain molds, fibers, and dander from dogs, cats, and other animals, as well as tiny dust mites. These mites, which live in bedding, upholstered furniture, and carpets, thrive in the summer and die in the winter.