Allergies: Is My Bedding Making Me Sick?
There’s no place on earth where we’re not inhaling microscopic organisms that can cause allergies — including your bedroom.
“Most people’s immune systems react silently to allergens,” explained Arthur "Skip" Moeller, DO, otolaryngologist at Avera Medical Group Ear, Nose & Throat in Yankton, SD. “If you have a strong response to allergens, it’s not because your immune system is weak, but the opposite; your immune system is working extra hard to protect you.”
Allergies and Your Bedroom
“No home doesn’t have dust or mold, or dander from pets if you have animals, so there’s no reason to be embarrassed,” said Moeller. “But when these invaders are overly present in your bedroom, it could affect your quality of sleep.”
These tiny invaders may get trapped in the weave of the material of your bedsheets, pillows and mattress. As you toss and turn during the night, the particles are jostled loose, allowing you to inhale them.
People who are allergic can experience symptoms like sneezing, watering eyes and an itchy, runny nose.
“While it may not be dangerous,” said Moeller, “your sleep might be interrupted by coughing and sneezing during the night.” That may lead to feeling groggy in the morning as you pick up the trail of tissues on the bedroom floor.
Treatments that Provide Allergy Relief
If you’re concerned with nighttime allergens, there are steps you can take to experience relief.
Nonmedical strategies you can take include:
- Change your linens frequently. Wash your linens at least once a week. It’s a good idea to keep another set of linens available in a sealed plastic bag to avoid contamination.
- Keep your bedroom clean. Vacuum (or sweep) and dust your bedroom frequently.
- Consider the material of your linens. Replace regular linens with plasticized sheets or synthetic fabrics. There are no weaves to collect dust, dander, mites or other microscopic organisms.
- Give pets their own room. Allowing your pet to sleep with you might increase allergy symptoms. “Pets are members of your family so I never advocate getting rid of them,” said Moeller. “Instead, they deserve to sleep in another room.”
- Request a hypoallergenic room. Some hotels offer hypoallergenic rooms, in which the pillows, mattress and comforter are sealed from dust and other allergens before you arrive.
Medical strategies may include:
- Try a salt water rinse. Gargle warm, salty water to reduce inflammation in the throat.
- Take an antihistamine. Antihistamine drugs relieve congestion, runny nose and sneezing.
- Use a nasal spray. Antihistamines are also available as a nasal spray.
“The key to a good outcome and a better night’s sleep is implementing multiple strategies of small, at-home measures and medications,” said Moeller.
Many people think they need specialized testing, but based on your experience, a health care provider will offer personalized advice for your situation. Schedule an appointment with your primary care physician or a specialized ENT doctor.