UPMC Health Alert: Are You Allergic to Your Bed?

Woman laying in bed covering her nose with a Kleenex.The dust in your bedroom might be making you sick.

Dust mites, and dander, and fibers — oh my! These are just some of the microscopic menaces in ordinary house dust that can cause health problems.

Dust mites are a common cause of allergies and asthma. It’s not the dust mite itself that can make you sick; it’s the dust mite debris (the mite’s feces and decaying body).

Dust collects in every room of the house because it is easily trapped in linens, upholstery, carpets, and draperies. But the bedroom is a favorite habitat for dust mites because it provides a warm, humid environment, and plenty of food (dead skin from humans and pets).

Five ways to help wipe out dust mites

While you can’t completely eliminate dust mites, these simple steps may help reduce their numbers:

  1. Cover your mattress and pillows in dust-proof or allergen-blocking covers, and encase box springs in vinyl or plastic covers.
  2. Wash and dry bed sheets, pillowcases, blankets, curtains, and bedcovers weekly in hot water (140 degrees Fahrenheit). If bedding can’t be washed, put the items in the dryer set at a high temperature for 20 minutes.
  3. Vacuum carpeting and upholstery weekly. Using a HEPA-filter vacuum can help keep dust from floating back into the air.
  4. Use a damp cloth or mop to remove dust from hard surfaces and exposed floors. This will prevent dust from becoming airborne and resettling.
  5. Keep the indoor temperature at 70 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity at no more than 50 percent. Dust mites aren’t the only puny pests that can invade your bedroom. Bed bugs have made a comeback in recent years.

Sources: National Institutes of Health, Environmental Protection Agency

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