Twenty one adult patients with asthma, with positive skin test responses to the European house dust mite, Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus, were randomly allocated to a control group or to a group applying house dust mite avoidance measures. These included an initial application of liquid nitrogen to mattresses and bedroom carpets to kill the live house dust mite population. Histamine airway responsiveness, symptom scores, peak expiratory flow rates (PEF), and house dust mite numbers were determined during the two week pretrial and eight week trial periods. Nine patients in each group completed the study. By the end of the study there was a significant reduction in live mites in the "avoidance" group but not in the control group. The avoidance group showed a significant improvement in symptom scores measured on a linear analogue scale, in the number of hours each day spent wheezing (mean reduced from 8.6 to 4.5 hours), and in PEF (l/min) both in the morning (from 364 to 388) and in the evening (from 368 to 392). These changes were not found in the control group. The provocative concentration (PC) of histamine causing a 20% fall in FEV1 (PC20FEV1) had increased significantly in the avoidance group at eight weeks (from 0.58 to 2.3 mg/ml), whereas no change was seen in the control group (from 0.93 to 1.21 mg/ml). These results show that house dust mite avoidance, combined with initial killing of the mite by liquid nitrogen, diminishes airway responsiveness and improves asthma symptom control over an eight week period in adult asthmatic patients with house dust mite allergy.
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