Majority of people who suffer night-time allergies don’t know what’s causing them – Read our interview with expert Amena Warner

Amena Warner
Amena Warner
More than 90% of allergy and asthma sufferers in the UK don’t actually know what triggers their night time allergy and asthma symptoms, a problem which affects almost a third of the population.

The survey revealed 30% of sufferers experience interrupted sleep as a result of their symptoms.

When asked what they think the main triggers are, only 7% answered with dust mite faeces, even though up to a third of the weight of a two year old pillow can be made up of them, and 10 million of the creatures live inside the average bed.

What’s more, a third surveyed by Slumberdown admitted they didn’t even know what a dust mite is with a further 46% confessing to not actually knowing what a dust mite looks like.

In 2012 Allergy UK found that house dust mites were a trigger of an allergic reaction for around 58% of allergy sufferers.

Almost half (42%) thought hay fever was the main trigger, with 26% blaming dust closely followed by moisture in the air (23%).

Many people don’t realise the effects dust mites have on allergies and the fact it’s actually not the mite itself but the droppings which cause symptoms, with each mite producing about 20 of these droppings every day. A significant amount of exposure to house dust mite allergens happens in bed, and they also thrive in humid conditions so taking precautions such as using special bedding, can help prevent any wheezing or poor breathing.
Despite taking practical steps to eliminate dust mites such as vacuuming (49%), taking medication (46%), and opening the windows (41%). The UK could be doing more to help their symptoms, such as using bedding that protects against dust mites.

We interviewed Amena Warner of Allergy UK to mind out more.

PatientTalk.Org – Amena, can I ask, what is an Allergy?

Amena Warner– Well it’s a malfunction if you like of the immune system to something that would be quite natural within the environment or the food we eat. SO the immune system overreacts in an abnormal way to that thing that it’s been sensitives to.

PatientTalk.Org – What is the difference between night time and daytime allergies?

Amena Warner – Well often daytime allergies could be a food, it could be something in the environment, if it’s an outdoor allergen such as pollen causing hay fever symptoms but a night time allergy specifically can often be something within the home and often it’s within that bedroom environment. We’re talking about things like pets or mould but specifically about house dust mite because majority of people who have a night time allergy it’s often the house dust mite that may be contributing to that.

PatientTalk.Org – And why don’t people know about these night time allergies?

Amena Warner – Well if it’s the house dust mite, they might not even think about the house dust mite because they may not know about the house dust mite. Their microscopic little creatures that are a quarter of a millimetre long, so you wouldn’t actually see them with the human eye. So unless anyone told you about house dust mites, you wouldn’t know about them.

PatientTalk.Org – How can people go about avoiding night time and daytime allergies?

Amena Warner – Well first of all, it’s the symptoms you look out for. SO the symptoms; if there’s runny nose, itchy nose, itchy eyes, nasal blockage congestion, tightness of chest, coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath. That would alarm me to think something in the environment at night is causing the allergic problem. Asthma, tightness of chest, cough etc., if that’s left uncontrolled that can be very very dangerous. So they really need to go to the GP and get advice and medication on that. But if they do wake up in the night or early morning with symptoms it might be house dust mite allergies. So there is lifestyle things they can first try and avoid, things like encasing pillows and mattresses in anti-allergy bedding, taking them off very regularly at 60 degrees will kill the house dust mite.

Ventilation, opening windows don’t have the central heating on too high. So cooler, drier conditions are much better as house dust mites like warm humid conditions – they thrive in those conditions. So there the little lifestyle things that people can do to reduce the amount of house dust mite. It won’t eradicate them, because you can’t eradicate house dust mite, they’re in everybody’s household. What we try to do is reduce how many we have if you like. You won’t be able to see them, so you won’t know that they’re there. We have a whole big fact sheet and lots of information on our website.

PatientTalk.Org – Lastly, what is allergy UK and how does it help?

Amena Warner – Allergy UK is patient organisation and were an information charity for people with allergic disease or people may have symptoms that they think may be an allergy so they can find out more information. We do provide a helpline as well so people can phone up and if they want to know where their nearest allergy service is. So we are patient information charity to support people.

PatientTalk.Org – Where can people go for more information?

Amena Warner – or our helpline number is 01322619898

PatientTalk.Org – Thank you very much Amena.

Amena Warner – Thank you