Respiratory allergy is a major health problem worldwide, often manifested in the shape of allergic rhinitis (hay fever). As examples, at least 10% of the world population suffers from pollen allergy and 5-30% is allergic to house dust mites, and the numbers are growing each year. On a global basis, the cost of medication, care and absenteeism is astronomical.

Pollen allergy

For most people, spring is the season of renewal, heralding the long, warm days of summer. For those with allergies to pollens, it marks the beginning of a long period of discomfort – sometims even severe illness.

Pollen allergy is suffered by at least 10% of the world’s population. Up to one-third of people with hay fever later develop asthma.

When and where am I exposed to pollen?

Meteorological changes affect the degree of pollen exposure and thus the degree of allergic reaction. This means that for people who suffer from hay fever, rainy days are “safer” because pollens are flushed to the ground, instead of remaining in the air. Conversely, sunny, windy days usually result in more air-borne pollens.

House dust mite allergy

House dust mites are small and whitish in colour. Between 0.1 and 0.6 mm long, they are barely visible to the naked eye. The mite is related to the spider family. It is completely harmless unless you suffer from allergy to mites.

Minute fragments of mites easily become airborne when house dust is disturbed and are thus inhaled by everyone. When proteins (allergens) from these fragments come into contact with the immune system of an allergic person, an overreaction occurs. Allergy to house dust mite affects millions of people all over the world.

When and where am I exposed to house dust mites?

Mites thrive in dark and humid places at temperatures of around 25° C. Since they feed on human dander (the dead skin cells shed by all humans), mattresses and pillows are an ideal environment for them. They are found in many other places, however, such as clothing, carpets, upholstered seats and soft toys. And we are also regularly in contact with mites outside our homes – e.g. school and kindergartens, public transport, hotels and cinemas.

The general improvement in building insulation to save energy has increased indoor humidity and then improved living conditions for mites.