One way to escape the microscopic bugs, whose droppings trigger symptoms in 85 per cent of asthma sufferers, is to take a holiday in an alpine resort where the temperature is cooler, the air drier and more soothing.
A more realistic approach is to try the ActivAllergy Mite-Alert. The new gadget is like a tiny vacuum cleaner, and contains a specially sealed test cassette, enabling sufferers to monitor dust mite hot spots. The first step is to collect dust from a test area. When the cassette is full, a special chemical solution is released into the sample. Within 10 minutes, a colour develops in a "control window" to indicate a prevalence of dust mites.
85% of asthma sufferers are allergic to house dust mite allergens and exposure to them triggers asthma attacks.
The dust mite, or Dermatopha-goides pteronyssinus, is actually a spider, which feeds off flakes of human skin and sheds its own skin as it grows. Eventually, the dust mite skin and droppings can form up to 25 per cent of the weight of an average pillow, resulting in wheezing, sneezing and even itchy eyes.
Wheezing has declined by 50 per cent among 400 families taking part in the long-term Manchester Asthma and Allergy Study, based at Wythenshawe Hospital.
The volunteers banished carpets, replaced curtains with blinds and banned smoking and household pets. "The study still has a year to run, and will have to be followed up, but the results so far are encouraging," says the National Asthma Campaign, which funds the study.
Tips to banish dust mites
Vacuum all furnishings using a high suction cleaner.
Wash bedding, covers and soft toys at 60 degrees.
Brush or shake rugs outside. Sunlight kills mites.
Use allergen-proof covers on mattresses and pillows.
Ventilate the house well to lower indoor humidity.
Damp-dust once a week.
In extreme cases, replace curtain with blinds and carpets with wooden/tiled floors.
Call in the experts.
ActivAllergy Mite-Alert, priced £24.95, is available by mail order, see www.omni.omninutra.co.uk. Also - www.asthma.org.uk