2018 update: Humidify the Air
I have used the tricks and products listed below for the past 5 years with success - my allergies have been alleviated greatly. However, this past winter we had an extreme cold spell in Vermont, and the below average temperatures meant crazy dry air. Our throats were really suffering (especially at night), so I immediately purchased a humidifier. This one is easy to maintain and doesn't need special cleaners to purify the water. Much to my surprise, the first night we ran it in our bedroom, I didn't wake up once to sneeze or frantically grab for a tissue to blow my nose. In the morning I felt totally refreshed.
It works like this: the humid air weighs down the dust particles so they're not floating around and finding their way into your sinuses. Humid air = your new best friend. This humidifier will change your life!
Original Post Follows:
I realize this is a little off the beaten path of what I usually write about, but I've been working on treating my dust allergies for the past few years, and I've built up a pretty extensive list of must-have solutions that I'd like to share with anyone else who may be suffering. Let me first say that my allergies have not gone away. I still have them, though I hope to lessen my reaction to them over time. What follows below are home remedies and different products that almost allow me to live an allergy-free life. I'm not into invasive solutions - visits to the doctors office for allergy shots, and surgery on my septum are not for me (though both were presented as options, and they may be best for you. Talk to your doctor!) So, here's what I use:
STEP 1: Stop Allergens at the Source by Cleaning Your Environment
I had always wanted a Roomba, but never justified the price until my allergies were getting out of control. With two cats and two people, it's necessary to vacuum on a daily basis, and I just don't always have the time. Once I got the Roomba, I immediately noticed a difference in my sneezing. It runs every morning, Monday through Friday, and amazingly when I go to empty the canister every afternoon there is ALWAYS plenty of dirt and cat hair (which is a dust trap!). The model I have is specifically for pets and allergies, and I will not live without it.
BUY IT: iRobot Roomba 770
Even with the Roomba, it's still necessary to run a regular vacuum about once a week to get corners and behind doors. I have the Eureka AirSpeed which claims to work better than a Dyson for less than half the cost. I can't really speak to those claims because I don't use it like a regular vacuum (or as frequently), but it does work great for what I need. Just taking those 10 minutes a week really helps get any last bits of cat fur/dust balls that are floating around.
I bought an air purifier at the same time as the Roomba, and using the two of them together totally changed my life. Many of the other solutions listed here are good for dealing with the reaction to allergies, but an air purifier and vacuum help get rid of the allergens before they can reach your nasal passage. I have one purifier in my bedroom running 24/7, and another near my desk at work. Since those are the two places I spend most of my time, it's pretty necessary to keep the air clean. This one has a permanent filter, so I just vacuum it out about once a month, which I prefer.
Mattress and Pillow Cover
Something that my doctor stressed were mattress and pillow covers. He told me that most of the exposure to dust mites can happen while you're sleeping, so it's important to use specially made covers to reduce contact. I also find that washing my sheets and changing pillow covers (the regular covers that go over the allergy covers) often makes an impact.
Himalayan Salt Lamp
I can't say the salt lamp has had a huge impact on my symptoms, but every little something that helps clean the air I breathe is worth trying. Himalayan salt lamps work by emitting negative ions, which purifies the air. I have this one on my bedside table, and it looks absolutely gorgeous when lit up at night. It's surprisingly bright and has a really peaceful glow to it which is perfect for transitioning to the night hours.
STEP 2: Lessen Symptoms by Taking These Remedies Internally
A more traditional route to reducing symptoms, and one used by those with seasonal allergies (the lucky ones! mine are year-round) is taking an antihistamine. The brand isn't important, just look for one with 10mg antihistamine. I don't use these regularly, but they are good to have around in case of a particularly bad reactions.
BUY IT: Loratadine Tablets
While not directly related to allergies, I decided to start taking probiotics to help with overall health. Probiotics help to keep your digestive system in balance (particularly after a round of antibiotics), and my rational is that the healthier my body is as a whole, the more it can heal itself where I need it (overreacting sinuses!).
Wheatgrass juice goes along with improving my entire wellbeing. It takes some effort growing and juicing the grass, but every time I drink it I feel SO ALIVE. I recommend it for anyone, not only allergy sufferers.
BUY IT: Certified Organic Hard Red Wheat
Beech Bach Flower
Bach flower remedies are a variety of tinctures using a flower/plant material, water, and brandy. The most common is probably the Rescue Remedy, which many people use when they are stressed to help calm down. The Beech Bach Remedy is described to be used for tolerance (towards people, situations - or allergies!). I add 6-8 drops to a glass of water, and drink several of these glasses a day. Anything to help build my tolerance, particularly anything that's natural!
BUY IT: Beech Bach Flower Essence
STEP 3: Experience Immediate Relief with Other Remedies
Another alternative remedy I tried was oil pulling, which is an ayervedic folk remedy which involves swishing oil (coconut, oil, sesame, etc) around your mouth for 20 minutes a day, first thing in the morning. It's supposed to draw toxins out through the tongue, which is connected to all systems in the body. Oil pulling is used for a variety of ailments, and while it sounds like another strange fad, I had a good experience with it. My allergies are always at their worse in the morning, and have cleared by mid-afternoon, but something about the oil pulling seems to expedite the process. On the mornings when I can find an extra 20 minutes, I do this using coconut oil, and by the end it seems pull everything to the front of my sinuses.
Like the oil pulling, using a neti pot first thing in the morning can provide immediate relief by clearing out the irritants before they get a chance to attack. I don't do this everyday, but definitely have a neti pot and the salt solution on hand for the really bad days.
Nasal Spray/Salt Spray
A nasal spray isn't something I would rely on to cure your allergies, but it's great to have on hand for attacks throughout the day. I have one in my bathroom, handbag, and desk drawer. Alternatively a salt spray will also help to clear your nasal passages.
Another thing I always have on hand are cough drops with menthol and eucalyptus, which work to cool and relieve your nasal passages. I find a cough drop with those properties will clear a stuffy nose faster than anything else. And for me a clear nose means less sneezing and nose blowing.
Just like the eucalyptus in cough drops, pure oil can also helps clean your sinuses immediately. Use however you like to use aromatherapy oils - in a bath, diffuser, or just take a sniff of the bottle for immediate relief.
BUY IT: NOW Foods Eucalyptus Oil
Finally, for the days when you haven't been able to lesson the symptoms and your nose has taken a beating from all the tissues, I like to use cooling tissues. They have aloe and moisturizers which create an immediate cooling sensation on contact and feel amazing on sore noses. The moisturizers also help prevent a dry nose which is often the result of many nose blows.
BUY IT: Kleenex Cool Touch Facial Tissue
Share Your Results!
So that's all I've got! I won't make any guarantees, but I'm pretty optimistic that if you try any combination of these solutions you will be able to get your dust mite allergy under control. It worked for me! If I missed anything, please share in the comments below so we can all benefit. :)