The bedroom is a place where you retire after a long hectic day. It's a place where you rest, sleep and find solace in. But how you much do you know about and practise bedroom hygiene? Do you sometimes feel itchy, breathlessness or like sneezing when in your bedroom, and wonder what the source of these symptoms though you're not unwell and perfectly fine? Chances are that your bedroom is the culprit. We spoke to experts on the various kinds of bedroom allergens and how to keep them at bay.
Case in point
Fifty-eight year old Sonali Khurana (name changed) had a habit of feeding pigeons in her balcony of her home. She developed allergic alveolitis which cause her severe breathlessness. Later, it was diagnosed that she was allergic to the pigeon droppings which had collected in her balcony. Her allergy was so severe that it was difficult for the poor lady to walk from one room to another because of her breathlessness. She was finally treated with steroids and inhaled broncho dilators and recovered fully, recalls Dr Anil Ballani, consultant Physician, Hinduja and Lilavati Hospital.
Kinds of allergies and their causes
Allergic reactions in humans mainly result in urticaria (itching), rhinitis (running nose) and bronchial asthma (wheezing). The common bedroom allergic triggers indoors include moulds (fungus), insects, dust mite particles, cockroach particles, animal hair (pet cats and dogs). Also, irritants like tobacco smoke, deodorants, perfumes, fresh paint, household cleaning products, explains Dr Ballani.
Who are prone to it?
Asthmatic patients and children are more susceptible to allergies because they are already sensitised and they have sensitised mast cells in their blood which can result in severe bronchi spasm, asthma attacks and running nose/blocked nose. Health consultant Dr Parul R Sheth agrees saying, "Children are especially more susceptible to environmental toxins and air pollutants than adults. In fact, recent research suggests that obese children are more prone to allergic asthma."
Quite common in Mumbai
Now that we know the types of allergens and who are highly susceptible to it, what about a bustling city like Mumbai? How common are these among city dwellers? Dr Ballani says, "The climate in Mumbai during summers is hot and humid which again promotes allergy. Bedroom allergens are common in Mumbai and that's because firstly, people keep their windows closed for privacy and air conditioning, which promotes the growth of moulds and act as allergic triggers. Moving from a warm humid atmosphere into a cool air conditioned room can trigger allergies in individuals too. Secondly, people use thick curtains and carpets which are sources of mites and cockroach particles and moulds as well."
What should you do?
Whether or not one suffers from bedroom allergies, practising bedroom hygiene is imperative. Dr Balalni suggests the following:
The windows of the bedroom should always be open as there should be sufficient ventilation. If possible, let in sunlight.
The cleaning of the floor should be done only with a wet mop.
Pest control should be done on regular intervals to keep the house free from mites, ticks and cockroaches.
Dust bins must always be covered.
Bedsheets and curtains should not be beaten with a stick to raise dust.
As far as possible, room freshners and aerosols should be avoided.
Dr Parul R Sheth suggests the following tips for bedroom hygiene:
Avoid using heavy curtains, woolen blankets, and woolen carpets.
Vacuum clean your carpets often.
Do not clutter your bedroom with too many books or furniture with upholstery.
Restrict your pet's entry into the bedroom.
Seal cracks and crevices to ban cockroaches.
Wash pillows, bed sheets, blankets, comforters, et.c once a week in warm water. Experts suggest washing them at 54 degrees C and then drying
them either in a hot drier or drying them out in Sun.