Ventilating Bedrooms Keeps Allergies at Bay

So does replacing old mattresses, study finds

FRIDAY, Aug. 25, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Replacing old mattresses and ventilating bedrooms can cut levels of allergy-causing dust mites, a major new study finds.

In the study, researchers analyzed more than 3,500 samples of dust from homes in 22 sites across Europe.

A team from the Institute of Medical Research, in Barcelona, checked for levels of two types of common dust mites. They also looked at factors that influenced the levels of dust mite allergens in each home.

Der 1 and Der 2 dust mite allergens were found in 68 percent and 53 percent, respectively, of all samples. Risk factors for high levels of these allergens included an older mattress; a bedroom on a lower floor level; and limited ventilation of the bedroom. For one type of dust mite, the level of dampness in the bedroom was also a factor.

The researchers concluded that regular mattress replacement and increased ventilation in the bedroom, particularly in winter, could help reduce dust mite allergen exposure.

The study is published online in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Another study found that cat allergens may still be present in homes without cats. German scientists at the National Research Center for Environmental Health, in Neuherberg, analyzed dust samples from 2,800 mattresses.

Not surprisingly, they found that homes with cats had much higher levels of cat allergens than households that had cats in the past and those that never had cats.

However, households that never had cats can still have high levels of cat allergens if they're located in communities where many people have cats. People can bring cat allergens home on their clothes, the researchers explained.

They also found a link between indoor smoking and higher levels of cat allergens. This may be because cat allergens can bind to smoking-related particulate, which results in increased allergen concentrations in settled dust.

More information

The Cleveland Clinic offers advice on how to achieve a dust-free bedroom.

SOURCE: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, news release, Aug. 18, 2006
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