Meet Dr. Donnica Video Introduction TV Appearances

Diseases & Conditions Today on DrDonnica.com Clinical Trials Decisionnaires FAQs Top Tips Fast Facts Debunking Myths News Alerts Celebrity Speak Out Guest Experts Women's Health Champions Books Women's Health Resources

Mission Privacy Policy Sponsors Press Room What's New? Contact Us

This website is accredited by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify. We comply with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information: verify here.


Hope Award

Send to a Friend

Does Bedding Affect Allergies And Asthma?

Two different articles in a recent issue of The New England Journal of Medicine (July 17, 2003) studied the evaluation of different kinds of bedding in preventing various forms of allergies and asthma.  People affected by allergies and asthma are often advised to use impermeable mattress and pillow covers to reduce exposure to dust-mites.  These are the microscopic creatures that often live and proliferate in mattresses and bedding, feeding off of shedding skin and hair particles.  Both studies showed that the use of these dust-mite-proof covers had no demonstrable clinical benefit for patients with asthma or allergic rhinitis and the authors concluded that the money spent on these covers is probably not worthwhile as part of an allergy-avoidance strategy.

The authors of these two negative studies had hoped that they would be able to show that these covers on patients' mattresses would provide significant benefit for patients with rhinitis or asthma and both studies were well-conducted.  What is important about these studies is that they do not imply that allergen avoidance doesn't work (or should not be recommended)for patients with asthma who are allergic to dust mites. What their study shows is that recommending allergen-proof covers to patients with asthma or allergic rhinitis in general is unlikely to be effective as a single measure; for these patients a comprehensive avoidance strategy is needed. The obvious conclusion from these studies is that mattress covers are not worth the price.  The more complete conclusion, however, considering information from other studies combined with this new information, is that the best treatment requires identifying what patients are specifically allergic to whenever possible, providing additional avoidance recommendations (beyond the use of just mattress and pillow covers), and allergy avoidance education.

Dust mites are not the only allergen that can affect allergies or lung function. The home is an important source of nonspecific irritants as well as other allergens. Cat allergens are an excellent example:  they have been demonstrated to affect asthma and allergy symptoms, and they can be measured in floor dust. There is increasing evidence that children raised in a household with a cat are less likely to become sensitized to cat allergen and that high levels of exposure induce a form of tolerance.

What is clear from these studies is that the overall treatment of allergies and asthma is fairly complex.   We also know that the frequency of allergies and asthma is increasing significantly, so we can assume that some sort of changes in diet, lifestyle, cleanliness,or housing have contributed to this. Our challenge is identify the responsible factors and to develop a comprehensive treatment approach. While medications are extremely helpful in symptom management and control, we need to do a better job identifying preventive factors.

Created: 9/12/2003  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

All the content contained herein is copyrighted pursuant to federal law. Duplication or use without
the express written permission of DrDonnica.com subjects the violator to both civil & criminal penalties.
Copyright © 2006 DrDonnica.com. All rights reserved.

Home | Today on DrDonnica.com | Meet Dr. Donnica | TV Appearances | Clinical Trials
Diseases & Conditions | Decisionnaires | Celebrity Speak Out | Guest Experts | Women's Health Champions
FAQs | Women’s Health Resources | Archive | Books & Tapes | Site Certification | Advanced Search
Mission | What’s New? | Press Room | Privacy Policy | Sponsors | Partners | Contact Us