(AscendHealthy.com) – We spend roughly one-third of our lives in bed, according to Harvard Health. During that time, we leave sweat, dead skin cells and other debris behind, which can quickly build up and create the perfect medium for some nasty invaders.
Even with this knowledge, many of us are unaware of just how gross our beds can become. Get ready to change all the sheets in the house; the dirty truth might disgust you.
Fabrics of nearly every make are susceptible to microbial invasion. Like clothing and other absorbent materials, mattresses, pillows and bed sheets are the perfect breeding grounds for numerous bacteria, fungi and other microscopic pests.
These invisible invaders can contribute to the slow degradation of fabrics and other textiles, literally consuming them while leaving behind waste products that further affect material quality. The foul-smelling odors that come when we sweat are actually chemicals excreted by bacteria living on us and our clothing.
Some of the microbes that reside in our mattresses can do far more than superficial damage, however. A few of them can pose risks to our health.
Potential Health Effects
Dust mites are one of the driving forces behind the health effects people experience when exposed to poorly maintained beds, sheets and pillows. Evidence shows that inflammatory responses to the near-microscopic bugs’ exoskeletons, feces and other excretions can prime the immune system to over-respond to other irritants.
As a result, some people develop allergies to the bacteria and fungi also present in bedding. Symptoms often include nasal and sinus issues, conjunctivitis, asthma and atopic dermatitis. Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli, of which dust mites can also sometimes serve as carriers, appear to be common offenders.
Keep irritants to a minimum by making mattresses and pillows as inhospitable as possible. Most microbes need some amount of moisture to survive, so keeping surfaces dry will go a long way to slow unwanted growth. Healthline recommends washing sheets at least once every week or two to keep the germ load from rising to irritating levels.
Some mattresses are treated with antimicrobial chemicals that can reduce growth, but their protective effects can degrade over time. Another great option is to purchase protective mattress and pillow covers, which still permit the materials to breathe but don’t allow moisture through. Along with other interventions to reduce household dust, using protective covers may reduce allergic symptoms by as much as 90%.
The bedroom can be a source of chronic symptoms for many allergy sufferers. Waking with congestion or a stuffy nose might be a sign. A whole slew of allergens can take hold if they’re given a chance, but staying ahead of dust and other contaminants can make a big difference.
~Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension
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