Allergies to house dust mites are the most common indoor allergy. Symptoms such as nasal blockage, itchy, runny eyes and nose as well as sneezing may only be mild for many but for a significant majority, they can be more problematic and lead to worsening of asthma.
Frustratingly, measures to reduce house dust mite exposure can be difficult and often either ineffective or insufficient. Expert management of house dust mite allergies, involves more than a diagnosis and instructions to pull up the carpets (actually of very little benefit!). New prescription only treatments, can help and there is also the option to be desensitised to dust mites. This can be highly effective and is very safe.
Desensitisation or immunotherapy, which has the potential to actually cure allergies, involves the use of problem allergen, given in regular doses, so that the immune system’s response to it changes.
One major benefit of the treatment is the long lasting effect, so that symptoms improve not just during the treatment but for many years after it has stopped.
In the past, this highly effective treatment was considered to be high risk. This was because they involved regular injections which could potentially cause severe reactions. However, new forms of immunotherapy are now available dust mites, pollens as well as for cat, dog and horse allergies.
Sublingual immunotherapy involves using a spray, tablet or drops of the problem allergen under the tongue, rather than using injections. This form of treatment is much safer (with over a billion doses given globally) and thus can be given at home. As well as having been shown to reduce the symptoms of rhinitis, there is now scientific evidence to suggest that desensitisation can reduce the likelihood of developing new allergies and asthma.
Our team has a particular expertise in sublingual immunotherapy, which is only available in specialist allergy centres, and are centrally involved in the largest UK desensitisation programme on the NHS, together with active involvement in research in this area.
We can also advise you on offer, more innovative solutions such as Temperature Controlled Laminar Airflow Devices, which are a non-drug method of dramatically reducing allergen exposure to relive symptoms.
Professor Adam Fox
Date reviewed: March 2021
Adam Fox is a Professor of Paediatric Allergy with over 20 years experience in both the NHS and private sector. Professor Fox is Commercial Medical Director at Guy’s & St Thomas’ Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Professor of Paediatric Allergy at King’s College London and the founding Director of the KCL Allergy Academy, a postgraduate educational programme, which was a finalist at the BMJ Awards in 2018.
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