Is your pillow making you sick?
We spend all night with our faces pressed against them, but your pillow could be a fungi breeding ground.
As we drift off to sleep, few of us spend much time considering the mites and fungus that inhabit our pillows, but they can have serious health implications.
Feather pillows used for periods ranging from a few months up to 20 years have an average of more than a million fungal spores in each pillow.
The most common variety, Aspergillus fumigatus, has the potential to cause disease in people with serious pre-existing conditions, such as transplant patients or those recently hospitalised.
People with asthma or sinusitis should take note they spend each night lying close to a potentially large source of fungi. Most moulds produce millions of spores that are easily airborne. When breathed in, they can cause a range of respiratory disorders, not just in people with asthma.
Adding to the potential problem are dust mites, tiny creatures related to ticks and spiders that are found all over the house, but especially favour bedding and pillows. The mites themselves are not the issue, but many people are allergic to their droppings.
Both fungi and dust mites thrive in warm, damp conditions. They love the moisture we sweat and use nutrients from our dead skin cells to grow.
Over time, pillows can grow quite a complex ecosystem.
All this may sound alarming, but the solution is simple. You can never get rid of all mites and fungal spores, but good pillow care will reduce their numbers substantially.
Synthetic pillows should be replaced often or invest in a good quality wool or latex pillow for a much cleaner and natural environment.
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