BOX 1 Avoidance Measures for Mite Allergen

A. Bedrooms

▪ Cover mattresses and pillows with impermeable covers

▪ Wash bedding regularly at 130° F

▪ Remove carpets, stuffed animals, and clutter from bedrooms

▪ Vacuum clean weekly (wearing a mask)*

B. Rest of the House

▪ Minimize carpet and upholstered furniture; do not use either in basements

▪ Reduce humidity below 45 percent relative humidity or 6 g/kg

▪ Treat carpets with benzyl benzoate or tannic acid

* There is a temporary increase in potential exposure to allergens associated with the vacuuming process. The net potential for exposure should be reduced by vacuuming, however, and is considerably less than the cumulative effects of not vacuuming. Wearing a mask while vacuuming should help reduce exposure while vacuuming.

Drugs such as antihistamines, cromolyn, and topical steroids can be used to suppress allergic symptoms. Immunotherapy ("allergy shots") stimulates the production of protective antibodies and is especially effective for certain well-defined allergens.

MECHANISMS OF IMMUNE FUNCTION

The immunologic nature of allergic reactions was recognized early in this century, but many of the specific types of antibodies and cellular mechanisms involved in such reactions have only recently been defined. Research on the immune mechanisms of allergic disease has led to the hope that the immune responses that occur in allergic diseases can be interrupted at the molecular level. In addition, modern research techniques have allowed scientists to define the protein sequences of many allergens, providing a focus for studies into new methods for detecting and quantifying specific allergenic agents in the environment.

MEDICAL TESTING METHODS

There are several types of medical tests available for the detection and diagnosis of allergic disease. These include skin tests, in vitro antibody tests, and pulmonary function tests. In allergy practice, however, the medical



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