Head of Clinical Services, Allergy UK
Up to 40% of the UK population is affected by respiratory allergies, including allergic rhinitis and asthma.
These allergic conditions are linked: around 80% of asthmatics also have allergic rhinitis, and those with allergic rhinitis are three times more likely to develop asthma1.
Indoor allergy – the allergens in our homes
Common allergens that trigger asthma and rhinitis include pollen, house dust mite, mould and pet dander. However, asthma can also be a symptom of food allergy.
In modern life, people may spend up to 90% of their time indoors and exposed to their indoor allergic trigger, causing severe impacts on quality of life.
Common indoor allergens
House dust mites are found in every home and thrive in warm, moist environments. While they are microscopic and harmless to most people, house dust mite allergy is very common and is associated with conditions such as asthma, rhinitis and eczema.
They are found in mattresses and bedding, soft furnishings and carpets. House dust mite allergy is worse at night and first thing in the morning due to their presence in beds.
Mould spores are microscopic particles that can cause allergic symptoms when they become airborne and are inhaled or make contact with the skin. As they flourish in damp areas of the home, they are common in the bathroom, kitchen and utility room.
Pet allergy is caused by allergy to the protein in animal dander (shed skin particles) saliva or urine. Pet hair can also carry airborne allergens such as pollen, mould and house dust mite. With pets living indoors and sleeping on furniture, people with pet allergy may experience severe and constant symptoms.
Management and treatment
People can take steps to reduce the amount of house dust mite, mould and pet allergen (known as the ‘allergen load’) in the home to avoid exposure to these allergens.
There is also a variety of treatments and medications to help control indoor allergies. Allergy UK’s Seal of ApprovalTM is a globally recognised endorsement scheme for products scientifically tested to benefit people living with allergies, including cleaning products, air purifiers, vacuum cleaners and more.
With the correct allergy management plan, allergic asthma and rhinitis can be managed effectively. It is important to seek medical advice for asthma symptoms, as these can be very dangerous and potentially life-threatening if left uncontrolled.