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What exactly is lurking in your pillow?

By Tim Sandle     Jul 16, 2016 in Health
Ever wondered what was lurking in you pillow as you drift off at night? Probably not, but you might be interested in finding out. After reading you'll end up not putting off the regular washing of your pillowcase.
The hidden secrets of your bed and pillow have been revealed by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. According to a report by CNN, there's a varied host of contaminants, covering the spectrum from bacteria, to fungi and allergenic substances, present at the microscopic level. Just because you cannot see what is lurking there doesn't mean these things are not present. Samples can be taken and subjected to molecular biological techniques. Many of the microorganisms and microscopic substances recovered are harmless, but not in all cases. Moreover, the severity of the hazard depends upon the susceptibility of the individual, in that some people are allergic to a substance that is innocuous to others.
To add to this, the degree that the contaminants become an issue relates to sleep patterns. Those who are more restless when asleep kick the covers more wildly and release more microbes that others. The extent that this matters also relates to the air distribution and the likelihood that the contaminants will be breathed in.
So, what are the issues of concern? Taking allergies first, dust mite droppings are highly allergenic. Not every person is affected by these. However, even when someone is not affected, the mites can still be an irritant. Tips of minimizing the risk include reducing humidity; removing carpets from bedrooms; and using a damp mop to regularly wipe down bedroom floors and surfaces.
Second, with fungi, a study of pillowcases published in the journal Allergy ("Fungal contamination of bedding") found 10 pillows in regular use and found that they collectively had 47 species of fungi. These too can trigger allergic reactions. Because most fungal spores are transferred via the air, the use of HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters at night is recommended.
A third area is sweat, with a typical person releasing 26 gallons a year. Ordinarily this isn't a problem, but could a risk factor should someone have a skin infection. Finally there is dander, urine and saliva from pets. Again, for many people this is not a problem, but to those who suffer from allergies, regular vacuuming of pet hairs is a good idea.
On hearing all this, Twitter user Bro. Dave Lister (@brodavelister) worriedly messaged: "Pillows are weaponized with over a dozen species of fungi, / Watered by gallons of your perspiration per pillow per annum!" Another social media regular, babasuyi paul (@paulbami) similarly tweeted: "Keep your pillow neat and dry... It can breed harmful fungi that causes health challenges."
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