Background: Exposure to house dust mite (HDM) allergens often results in worsening of asthma. Therefore, avoidance of exposure to HDM allergens is often proposed. Unfortunately, the most effective and feasible avoidance strategy is still not completely assessed. Consequently, we investigated the effects of a combined HDM avoidance strategy on HDM allergen concentrations and clinical condition of allergic, mild asthmatic, patients using no inhaled steroids.
Methods: Asthmatic patients, allergic to HDM, using no inhaled corticosteroids, were randomly allocated to an active (n = 76) or a placebo allergen-avoidance group (n = 81). Avoidance measures consisted of applying Acarosan(R) (placebo: water) to the living room and bedroom floors, and the use of HDM-impermeable covers for mattresses and bedding (placebo: cotton covers for mattresses only). Effects on allergen concentrations (Der p 1), FEV1, bronchial hyperresponsiveness, peak flow parameters and asthma symptom scores were studied during 20 weeks and controlled for the allergic status of the patients.
Results: The active covers reduced Der p 1 concentrations to 9.4% (P = 0.0001), and were always significant lower than in the placebo group (P = 0.0002). Acarosan(R) resulted in slight but significant decreases (twofold, P = 0.0001), both on living room and bedroom floors, but concentrations were never significantly lower than the placebo group. Although the combined avoidance strategy resulted in a considerable reduction in allergen load in the active group, no differences were seen between the two groups in any of the clinical parameters during the follow-up period in this group of allergic asthmatics, using no inhaled corticosteroids. Corrections for the allergic status did not alter these results.
Conclusions: The combined avoidance strategy was effective in reducing HDM allergen concentration. This was especially achieved by the allergen-impermeable covers, while the effects of Acarosan(R) were only marginal. However, this allergen reduction was not reflected in a convincing improvement in clinical condition in this group of mild allergic asthmatics, using no inhaled steroids. Perhaps, a longer follow-up period would have resulted in more pronounced effects.