Elderly woman sneezing into tissue (black and white image)

Do you think that you may be experiencing symptoms of dust allergies?

Or could it be something else?

Unfortunately, some of the signs of a dust allergy, like sneezing, coughing and a runny nose, are similar to sicknesses such as the common cold.

What may seem to be dust allergy symptoms may actually be a cold and vice versus.

But, how do you know for sure?

Dust allergies can range from mild to severe.

In a mild case, you may experience an occasional outbreak of the symptoms below, while in a severe condition you might notice chronic, ongoing problems.

In this article, we’ll share with you eight of the most common signs that are associated with allergies related to dust and dust mites.

Hopefully, this information will clue you in to what’s really going on with your health.

Note: If symptoms such as wheezing or nasal congestion are severe, you should call your doctor. If shortness of breath or wheezing quickly gets worse, seek emergency care. The information provided in this article should not substitute for professional care.

Top Symptoms of Dust Allergies

1. Sneezing

When it comes to people that are allergic to dust, sneezing always makes it to the top of the list.

Sneezing, also called sternutation, is your body’s natural defense against removing irritants that enter the nasal passage. This includes dust.

If you find that you’re not regularly sneezing when you’re outside, but start to when going indoors, you might have an allergy that’s related to dust.

If sneezing has started to occur more often in your own home (or a place you visit often), try a thorough cleaning and then see if it persists.

If it stops, most likely the dust was the problem. If not, it may be related to some other allergen.

If you’re not sure if you might have a cold instead of dust allergies.

The two biggest indicators are the duration of symptoms and the color of nasal discharge.

Cold symptoms tend to last between 3-14 days, while an allergic reaction to dust will continue to persist.

According to Live Science, the color of nasal discharge can also clue you into what issue you may be having. Allergies produce a clear liquid when sneezing while a cold produces yellowish or greenish discharge.

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2. Stuffy or Runny Nose

The inflammation of nasal passages, also referred to as Rhinitis, is a common natural defense against allergies and a cold. And, according to WebMd, 1 in 5 Americans suffer from this condition.

What’s happening here is that the mucus membranes inside your nose become inflamed and create a stuffy and/or runny nose.

Most often this doesn’t happen until after you begin sneezing. First, the dust allergens have to irritate the lining of your nose before it triggers an inflammatory reaction.

If you’re allergic to dust, then this means your body is hypersensitive to this type of allergen and mistakes it for a harmful substance.

This causes your body to produce histamine, which then causes a stuffy and runny nose.

If your nose problems occur in conjunction with sneezing when indoors, it’s most likely not a cold virus, but may be related to dust.

3. Nasal Congestion and Sinus Pain

This sign is closely related to #2. When nasal congestion occurs due to swelling of mucous membranes, this cuts off your sinuses.

The result? Pain and pressure.

This is due to the fact that your sinuses are not able to drain properly and all that mucus and air is trapped inside.

4. Itchy, Red or Watery Eyes

Being allergic to dust and dust mites can also cause you to have itchy, red or watery eyes.

This is another natural defense your body conducts when it reacts to something sensitive in the environment.

When dust particles come into contact with mast cells on the eyes, the response is to release histamine and other chemicals that cause blood vessels to leak, which makes your eyes red, watery and itchy.

Unfortunately, these dust allergies symptoms are shared with other eye diseases and cold viruses.

Trying to diagnose an allergy to dust off of this one sign alone is not feasible.

However, if you’re noticing it alongside symptoms #1 and #2, it just may likely be caused by an allergic reaction to dust (see ACAAI for more information).

5. Itchy Nose, Roof of Mouth or Throat

Perhaps you’re not sneezing, having a runny nose or experiencing severe nasal and sinus pressure. But, you are noticing an itchy nose, tingle in the roof of your mouth or scratchy throat.

These could be sure signs of a dust allergy.

Inhaled allergens immediately affect the nose, mouth, and throat and these are telltale symptoms of an allergic reaction to particles in the air.

In fact, Heathline released a report backing up this claim, including several natural remedies to help with it.

These include drinking hot liquids, like soups and teas, as well as gargling with salt water and using a neti pot.

6. Postnasal Drip

If you’re experiencing symptom #4, most likely you’re also noticing an uncomfortable case of postnasal drip.

Dust allergies are notorious for causing this issue.

What’s occurring here is that your body is producing more mucus than normal (or thicker), and not all of it comes out through a runny nose.

The only escape is by leaking down the back of the nose and through the throat.

Postnasal drip can be very irritating to the throat and since it contains inflammatory substances, it can also cause symptom #6.

7. Cough

Coughing is another one of the most common symptoms of dust allergies. usually triggered very quickly after you’re exposed to an allergen, such as dust.

This symptom flares up because your body is trying to reject the particles that you have breathed in.

If you leave the room or place where you think an abundance of dust or dust mites are present and the cough goes away, it may likely have been related to dust allergies.

If your cough was caused by a cold or virus, then you’ll notice it throughout the day no matter where you are located.

8. Shortness of Breath

If you have asthma, you undoubtedly know what it feels like to have shortness of breath.

If you don’t and you’re experiencing this symptom while indoors, it may be related to dust.

Shortness of breath or tightness in the chest occurs because the lining of your airways become inflamed due to an inhaled allergen.

These narrowed airways make it harder to breathe since air cannot move as freely into and out of your lungs.

Similar to the other dust allergy symptoms, if you can leave the room or area that you think is causing shortness of breath to flare up and it goes away, it may be a dust allergy.

If it persists regardless of where you are, it most likely is a viral infection.

An Air Purifier Can Help

Now that you know what the top symptoms are for dust allergies, you may be thinking, ‘I’m pretty sure I have it. What can I do about it?’

If possible, the best thing for you to do is perform a deep cleaning of the area that’s causing you the most problems. Then, add an air purifier to the space.

What this product does is constantly strips the air of any dust particles and dust mite waste that may try to make their way back into the room.

Take a look at our article on the best air purifiers for dust mites and why they work so well.

If you have a dust allergy, this simple device can help you eliminate dust particles and dust mites from your home.

Having an air purifier in the space that collects the most dust can drastically reduce your allergy issues.

By removing these allergens from the room, your body won’t keep trying to kick into defensive mode and cause these symptoms to flare up.

Avatar for Katherine Dyson

About Katherine Dyson

Katherine is the lead Staff Writer. She conducts in-depth research and interviews with industry experts in order to produce a wide range of content for the site. Her main role is to write helpful articles that aid people who are seeking to improve their indoor air quality and comfort. (See Full Bio)