Pillows ...... A Lot of Helpful Info About Them!!

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by JLH, Nov 25, 2005.

  1. JLH

    JLH New Member

    ARE YOUR PILLOWS HAZARDOUS TO YOUR HEALTH?

    (Source: ImmuneSupport.com; 11-23-2005; By Jill Neimark)


    When you snuggle into bed at night and rest your weary head upon your dreamy pillow, are you risking your health? Perhaps, according to a perturbing new study from The University of Manchester, published in the journal Allergy, where researchers found that both synthetic and down pillows are full of dust mites and millions of fungal spores—and that in fact, they create a kind of miniature ecosystem inside our pillows.

    According to Ashley Woodcock, who conducted the research, “Pillows are inhabited by the house dust mite, which eats fungi, and one theory is that the fungi are using the dust mites’ feces as a major source of nutrition, along with human skin scales.”

    In addition, we sweat as we sleep, adding necessary moisture to this miniature ecosystem—and its known that the food consumption and development of dust mites increases with moisture and humidity.

    Woodcock’s research team analyzed samples of ten pillows that had been in use for 18 months to 20 years, and identified between four and sixteen fungal species per sample. A few thousand spores of fungus per gram were found, and the synthetic pillows actually contained the highest number of spores. The most common fungus was aspergillus fumigatus, especially in the synthetic pillows.

    Aspergillus can be a problem for adults and kids with mold allergies, asthma, sinus problems, or compromised immune systems. Are we spending a third of our lives basically burying our heads in fungal spores as we sleep? (To say nothing of our comforters, which also often contain down or synthetic materials). “We really thought it was the kind of stuff you find on a bathroom wall in a damp house,” Woodcock said—not in your pillows.

    Needless to say, I’m one of those folks who has a bunch of huge, European style feather-filled pillows on my bed, because I like to relax in bed at night and write on my ultraportable laptop. I also sleep on those pillows. It never occurred to me I could be compromising my health. But I probably was, according to Jeffrey C. May, of May Indoor Air Investigations in Cambridge, Massachusetts. According to May: “For many individuals with allergies and/or asthma, feather-filled pillows (and quilts) can be a serious health risk. I have had clients whose sinus problems and nightly coughing bouts disappeared the day they threw out their feather pillows and quilts.

    The exposures from some pillows is comparable to having a live bird, and hypersensitivity diseases comparable to those experienced by bird handlers have occurred.” May says he has taken dust samples from hundreds of feather-filled items. “The actual content is quite unpredictable. Some items are filled with bacteria-like organisms that I believe may have originally grown in the feathers of the live bird.

    Other new or old feather items emitted millions of respirable feather fragments. Older feather items, particularly pillows, can be severely infested with dust mites,” says May. “I would recommend anything (even a folded towel!) before using a feather pillow.”

    So what can you do to ensure nighttime health? Here are recommendations to make your bed safe and comfortable:

    1) If you aren’t ready to replace your pillows yet, put them in a hot dryer weekly to help prevent the growth of mites and microorganisms.

    2) Don’t go to bed with wet hair, as you’ll wick much more moisture and water into your pillow

    3) Use zippered dust mite casings. A good casing will have high thread counts that allow the pillow to breathe while protecting you from mites and their allergens.

    4) Buy a dehumidifier for your bedroom since dust mites flourish on higher humidities (70% and above).

    5) Choose a pillow with a healthy fill that does not support mold and dust mites. There are many other healthy choices for pillows besides down or synthetic fill. When I researched the types of pillows available, I discovered everything from cotton-filled, to wool-filled, silk-filled, and even buckwheat-hull filled.

    But there were no firsthand reports on loft, comfort, scent, so I tried several types of pillows and here’s what I have to report:

    One very popular brand of cotton-filled pillow is made by Kaye of KB Cotton Pillow and available on many sites for allergy sufferers. KB’s cotton-filled pillows are machine washable and can be put in the dryer, as long as you put three tennis balls in with the pillow so that the cotton doesn’t bunch up. KB’s pillow does not have a lot of loft or springiness, it’s flat and comfortable, for those folks who prefer that style, and it’s reasonably priced.

    Another pillow I loved comes from Nina Kelley of Kelley Green, a mom-and-pop company in Oregon. Says Nina, who is 52, “We live right by the wool mill in southern Oregon and they make wool beds. The comfort is beyond description: you lay down on a wool-filled bed and it seems to pull all the tension and pain out of your body. It cradles you.”

    Kelley Green’s wool-filled pillows use hemp covers and have great, springy loft and smell good. These can be set out in the sun for an hour to cleanse them periodically. Studies at from Polytechnic Institute in Wales show that wool batting efficiently draws away moisture released through your skin. So you will feel comfortably dry even when you have an unusually "sweaty" night.

    These pillows are reasonably priced and the loft is wonderful—for those who like to read in bed, or sleep on their backs or sides. They come in various sizes, can be custom-made, and the company offers a special “neck roll” pillow for proper spinal alignment for side-sleepers.

    Finally, perhaps the best pillow I tried comes from Dream Soft, a company that offers a fabulous range of natural bedding. Their wool-filled pillows come in light, medium or extra fill. I ordered a medium-loft Euro-style pillow from them and it was both springy and soft and the casing smooth and wonderful. According to the owner, Kristina, their wool is sheared in a clean environment, twice washed in hot water with a biodegradable detergent and no harsh chemicals.

    For cleaning pillows, a sunbath or putting them in the dryer on cold and air fluff for about 10 minutes, with a few tennis balls to stop the wool from bunching, will keep them clean. Pillows come in all sizes from neckroll to standard queen, kind, Euro and boudoir.

    I did not try silk filled pillows because they are so expensive, but I hear the loft is similar to cotton (not very springy, so preferable for those who like a fairly flat pillow). In addition, consider the other components of your bed: you may want a dust-mite casing for your mattress, and a comforter that is wool or cotton filled and able to be washed and dried, or aired out in the sun, or else, cotton quilts and blankets that can be regularly washed and dried.

    Resources:

    For wool-filled and KB’s cotton-filled pillows:
    Kristina Bryant www.DreamSoftBedware.com Customer service: 1-877-768-4233

    For wool-filled, hemp-covered pillows: Nina Kelly www.kelleygreen.org

    For advice on indoor allergens, including pillows: Jeffrey May, Jeff@mayindoorair.com, or go to his website:
    www.myhouseiskillingme.com
    For dust mite casings: www.allergycontrol.com

  2. IntuneJune

    IntuneJune New Member

    Many of us have diagnosed, or undiagnosed allergies/intolerances.

    This could be a wake up call for many folks.

    Anyone can start off with small changes.....like the allergenic covers to go over your exisiting pillows.

    Washing bed linens in HOT, HOT water.....

    Thanks, JIH

    I believe allergies are a SIGNIFICANT piece of the puzzle.

    Fondly, June

  3. Jeanne-in-Canada

    Jeanne-in-Canada New Member

  4. Dee50

    Dee50 New Member

    Thanks great pillow infromation.
    I love my new water pillow I paid $60 at a chiropractic office for it. Love it and I've got tons of pillows.
    Thanks again cool infromation to know.

    Take care
    Dee50
  5. ilovecats94

    ilovecats94 New Member

    The two solid foam pillows I bought about 6 months ago said that they were dust mite proof. They cost more, but the cheaper one did not say that. I bought them online from J C Penney. I have always loved the solid foam.

    I am allergic to the feather pillows, although hubby sleeps on one.

    If I aired my pillows out in the sun, I'd get bird poop on them. lol

    Hugs,
    Faye
  6. JLH

    JLH New Member

    My favorite pillow is a down-filled one that is nearly 30 years old!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOL

    I regularly air it out, etc., and have bought tons of pillows trying to replace it, but just can't find another "perfect" pillow!!!!

    I don't know what I will do!

    Janet
  7. Jeanne-in-Canada

    Jeanne-in-Canada New Member

    you can have your feather pillows reconditioned at the dry cleaners. I have old pillows just like yours, loved them, but the fabric was so old the feathers were coming out.

    At the dry cleaners, they empty the fill out into wood chips and centrifuge it, and that cleans the feathers. They put them back in new covers. If you are sensitive you'd have to air them awhile, but they'd be like new.

    Jeanne
  8. Jeanne-in-Canada

    Jeanne-in-Canada New Member

    I take my pillows outside regularly and leave them in a clothes basket to freshen and for the sun to do its thing. They smell clothesline fresh after. I also use zippered casings under pillowcases and clean them regularly. I hate the smell of stale bedding.

    When I change bedding, I leave the mattress pad to air all day uncovered and open the window for awhile (weather permitting). Letting light and air in helps keep mites and spores down.


    I can't believe how long people leave bedding on their beds, 2 weeks to mths sometimes. I'd be gagging. I was gagging when i first came to my fiance's place, he'd leave them mths. He has next to no sense of smell, and I'm like a bloodhound w/ the MCS. It's been an interesting combo for us to work out living together.

    Jeanne
  9. JLH

    JLH New Member

    I do the same as you .... airing out the pillows and mattress covers. I also use the zippered pillow protectors (casings) over my pillows before putting the pillow case on.

    I wonder what a dry cleaners would charge to recondition a feather pillow? Also, would it come back smelling like the wood chips? I am sensitive to smells.

    Thanks for the info,
    Janet
  10. LISALOO

    LISALOO New Member

    pillow covers, and a mattress bag, that keeps the dust out of my mattress! That helped several years ago
  11. GwenGlo

    GwenGlo New Member

    It is an 'Align-Right Pillow' (look it up on google).
    It can be washed and put into the dryer.
    Anytime it gets flat it can be put into the dryer to fluff it up.
    It is guaranteed for 5 years.
    I use a CPAP and have no problem lying in any position on it.
    My sister has down and feather pillows and has them cleaned periodically at the dry cleaner. They don't retain an odor and I also don't remember (me remember?) how much it cost.
    Gwen[This Message was Edited on 12/03/2005]
  12. JLH

    JLH New Member

    Is the "Align-Right" pillow a rather flat pillow? I'm always looking for a flat pillow that I can squish up with I sleep!
  13. GwenGlo

    GwenGlo New Member

    The align-rite pillow is like a tube. I think it is called a cervical as it fits under your neck and your head falls over the side. It has a zipper and if it is too firm you can remove some of the filling. They come in different sizes and you measure yourself to get the right size. It is hard to describe it and hopefully you can check it on their website. Best wishes in your search.
    Gwen
  14. JLH

    JLH New Member

    Who wants to take the first swing in the pillow fight? LOL

    Gwen mentioned that her sister had down and feather pillows and had them cleaned periodically at the dry cleaners and they didn't retain an odor.

    So, I think I'm going to take my trusty ole pillow to the dry cleaners and pray that it comes back in fighting condition!! LOL

    Hugs,
    Janet

  15. tansy

    tansy New Member

    made my neck worse, as do other neck supports if they're not exactly right for me. Recent PT for my cervical spine involved discussions over the position I sleep in and the pillow I use. Up until then a latex pillow had provided the best in terms of support and my allergies.

    Thanks to these discussions I started looking at pillows again and came across sprung pillows. I found a cheaper version of the Fogarty Dream Spring (UK) because I was not sure if it would work, and like most others here my modest income means a lot of financial juggling.

    It felt harder than the pillow I used before, but the benefits soon became obvious. I make sure it supports all of my neck as well as my head, so I position it lower than I had my previous pillow. No problems with my allergies either.

    Tansy