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Normally, the immune system functions as the body's defense against bacteria and viruses. In most allergic reactions the immune system responds to a false alarm. When an allergic person comes into contact with an allergen, the immune system treats the allergen as an invader and mobilizes to attack. Some people who suffer from allergies develop asthma.

The symptoms of an allergy are:
Sneezing often accompanied by a runny or clogged nose
Coughing and postnasal drip
Itching eyes, nose and throat
Dark circles under the eyes
Persistant upward rubbing of the nose
Watering eyes

Dust is one of the most common allergens. Rather than a single substance, so-called house dust is a varied mixture of potentially allergenic materials. It may contain fibers from different types of fabrics, cotton lint, stuffing materials, animal fur, bacteria, mold and fungus spores, food particles, bits of plants and insects, etc. House dust also contains microscopic mites. These mites, which live in bedding, upholstered furniture and carpets, thrive in summer and die in winter. In a warm, humid house, they continue to thrive even in the coldest months. The particles seen floating in a shaft of sunlight include dead dust mites and their waste-products. These waste-products provoke the allergic reaction.

There are several medications to combat allergies and asthma but the best thing to do is to try to keep the dust in the home to a minimum. This can be achieved by following a regular cleaning routine and changing the bedding frequently. Carpeting often makes the problem worse as do domestic animals. Dehumidifiers can be helpful but not all people benefit from it.