Can Down Comforters Cause an Allergic Reaction?
Only people that suffer from allergies know just how cumbersome their symptoms are. This is why numerous allergy sufferers follow the “better safe than sorry” principle. They’re very cautious about the purchase of new products and they typically stick to hypoallergenic items.
If you deal with allergies on a regular basis, you know just how important the quality of the bedding that you use is. Some allergy sufferers worry about down comforters and the risk of suffering from an allergic reaction. In this guide, we’ll take a deeper look at these concerns and whether they have any scientific foundation.
Feather allergies are frequently spoken about but it’s interesting to point out there’s almost no evidence supporting such claims. In fact, clinical studies show that different types of duvets tested side by side don’t show major differences in terms of allergic reactions.
The Ohio State University Wex Medical Center carried out a side-by-side pillow test. The researchers used both hypoallergenic and down-filled pillows to see whether one variety was going to cause a bigger number of allergic reactions than the other.
There wasn’t a major difference between the results of the two groups. In fact, the people using the hypoallergenic pillows made of a porous synthetic material happened to be at a higher risk of experiencing an allergic reaction.
The Cause of Allergic Reactions
If feathers and down aren’t to blame, what’s the reason for experiencing an allergic reaction when using certain types of bedding?
The answer is simple – dust mites and mold. The so-called hypoallergenic products are made of synthetic materials that have a porous structure. This structure allows dust mites, dander and mold to settle inside. When the cover or the pillow isn’t washed frequently, it can contribute to the appearance or exacerbation of allergy symptoms.
Many people will wrongly attribute such reactions to feathers and other natural materials. If you’re one of these people, you need to relax. There’s no need to throw away your beautiful and luxurious down comforter. It isn’t the one making your eyes watery and your nose – stuffy.
Facts and Figures about Feather Allergies
Feather allergies are relatively rare.
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A genuine feather allergy produces symptoms similar to the ones of hay fever. If you’re actually experienced an allergic reaction to the down in your pillow or comforter, you’ll wake up feeling tired and swollen. If you’re enjoying a restful and rejuvenating sleep, chances are that you’re allergic to something else.
Hay fever (allergic rhinitis) caused by pollen is the most common allergy in the world. It affects approximately 7.8 percent of the people in the US, according to the 2010 US National Health Interview. Skin and food allergies follow. Drug, latex and insect allergies come next.
Feathers themselves don’t even make it among the top allergens. When feathers aren’t cleaned properly, however, they create good conditions for the accumulation of dust mites. Thus, the exterior of the comforter has to be made of a non-porous material to keep the filling clean. Following manufacturer recommendations in terms of washing the bedding will also be essential for the prevention of allergic reactions.
What to do if You Suspect an Allergic Reaction
The hay fever symptoms are really pronounced and you’ll know immediately if you’re suffering from an allergic reaction. Some of the most common symptoms that you’re likely to experience include:
- Red and watery eyes
- Stuffy nose
- Coughing and congestion
- Difficulty catching a breath
- Sore throat (due to nasal drip)
- Hives and other types of skin irritation
If you suspect that you’re allergic to the down comforter or to dust mites, you’ll need to see a medical professional that specializes in allergies. A few simple tests will have to be performed to identify the allergen – the substance that you’re sensitive to. Once the allergen is identified, you’ll need to do prevention that focuses predominantly on avoidance.
So, what’s the conclusion that we can reach about down comforters and allergies? Most of the information about such reactions stems from urban myths. Feathers aren’t a powerful allergen. They can, however, create conditions for the accumulation of dander and dust mites. Keeping your comforter and pillow properly washed and changing bedding frequently will be sufficient to enjoy quality sleep and experience whatsoever no allergy risk.