Updated 12 April 2019

Mite-proof bedding may help curb asthma attacks

Kids whose mattresses and pillows are encased have less severe asthma flare-ups, according to a new study.

One of the first step in controlling and managing your asthma, is to identify and avoid triggers like animal dander, house-dust mites, cockroaches, pollens and outdoor moulds, tobacco smoke and indoor pollens – and take action to avoid or eliminate them.

Children with asthma have fewer flare-ups when their beds have mite-proof covers, a new study suggests.

Dust mites are one of the most common asthma triggers.

Unusual but common cause

The study included 284 children in England with asthma and dust mite allergy. Their mattresses and pillows were encased with mite-proof or placebo covers. They were tracked for a year.

During that time, about 29% of the kids with mite-proof covers had a severe flare-up that led to a hospital visit, compared to about 42% of the other kids.

Children with protective bedding also went much longer before having a flare-up that led to an emergency room visit or hospital stay for treatment with systemic corticosteroids.

But they did not have a significantly lower risk of flare-ups that were treated outside the hospital with only an oral corticosteroid. The researchers said the bedcovers may not prevent flare-ups but instead make them less severe.

Kick asthma to the curb 

"Asthma exacerbations are among the most common reasons for hospitalising children living in the developed world. It's a frightening experience for children and their parents, and a single exacerbation can increase the annual cost of treating asthma by three-fold," study lead author Dr Clare Murray said in a journal news release.

She is a clinical senior lecturer at the University of Manchester and the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital.

The mite-proof bed covers cost about $200 (±R2 600).

Comparable South African products are: double mattress encasing (±R500); pillow encasing (±R100 – R200); mattress cover (R400+).

Murray said they may help reduce flare-ups that lead to ER visits or hospitalisation, especially for younger children who are allergic only to dust mites.

More unusual asthma triggers

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Asthma Expert

Professor Keertan Dheda has received of several prestigious awards including the 2014 Oppenheimer Award, and has published over 160 peer-reviewed papers and holds 3 patents related to new TB diagnostic or infection control technologies. He serves on the editorial board of the journals PLoS One, the International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Medicine, Lancet Respiratory Diseases and Nature Scientific Reports, amongst others.Read his full biography at the University of Cape Town Lung Institute

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