Dust mites
Dust mite Pixabay

We all know dust is one of the main reasons behind triggering asthma, which kills an average of 250,000 people every year. But if you delve further into the causes of this deadly respiratory disease, the results will shock you.

Scientific researchers have found that the house dust mites (HDM) are a major cause of this deadly disease. However, the terror doesn't end here. If you know what these barely visible bugs are capable of doing, you will want to go and hug that cleanliness-freak friend of yours.

These, almost unavoidable tiny creatures, are found everywhere, from our rooms, bed to mats and carpets. Feeding on skin flakes from humans and animals, a house dust mite is capable of producing approximately 2,000 faecal particles, which are partially digested enzyme-covered dust particles. These particles are the main reason for allergies in humans.

Recently, researchers at the Department of Pharmacology of NUS Medicine and the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) have found out that these minute monsters are responsible for causing DNA damage and cell death in lung epithelial cells, the cells lining the airways in the lung.

SMART PhD student Tze Khee Chan and her advisors have found that HDM causes lung epithelial cells to produce Reactive Oxygen and Nitrogen Species (RONS) – a secretion by immune cells, which induces DNA damage. This damage can lead to cell death and trigger inflammation that worsens asthma, if not immediate and adequately repaired.

The damage is more severe than this. In response to this DNA mutilation, the cell's repair strategy kicks in. Now if we block this DNA repairing system, it leads to more DNA damage and cell death, observe the researchers.

Therefore, scientists can figure out how much a patient is susceptible to chronic asthma by studying his or her DNA repair capabilities. These findings are expected to help doctors to predetermine how vulnerable the patient is to this lung disease.

However, as we all know 'prevention is better than cure', IBTimes Singapore gives out some quick tricks and tips to keep these mites at the bay. Check these out below:

  • Change bed sheets every week
  • Minimize household humidity.
  • Open windows and doors every day, let the sunlight come in.
  • Cleaning the house with vacuum cleaner might help.
  • Cotton covers are prone to become mite breeding grounds, clean them regularly.
  • If someone is suffering from allergy, keep your pets away from the patient's bedroom. We know it is difficult.
  • Avoid putting carpets in the bedroom; wood flooring is a good idea.