Is Your Mattress Making You Sick?

The scary news that bed bugs might be carrying drug-resistant bacteria, including the superbug MRSA, provides all the more reason to make sure your mattress is as clean as it can be. But even if you don't have bed bugs, your mattress could still be causing you to feel sick-and it might even trigger asthma symptoms in those who suffer from dust allergies.

If you consistently wake up with watery eyes, a scratchy throat, or a runny nose, you might be allergic to your bed. According to Web MD, dust mite droppings are among the top allergens that trigger asthma symptoms and aggravate allergies. And your mattress and pillows are prime hiding places for these common allergens.

Luckily protecting yourself from both germ-ridden bugs and dust mites is simple. Follow these steps to make sure your place of rest is as clean as can be.

1. Invest in hypo-allergenic mattress covers.

Experts suggest covering your mattress and pillows with plastic or vinyl casings that seal in dust mites and other bugs so you don't inhale them. This step is especially important for those with asthma or severe dust allergies. According to a 2003 study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, those who used dust mite-proof mattress and pillow covers were able to reduce their asthma medications. In addition, hypo-allergenic casings also protect against mold, which is another common source of allergies.

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2. Replace old, uncovered mattresses.
If you're sleeping on an old mattress, chances are it's crawling with dust. In fact, according to Web MD, the average mattress will double in weight in ten years due to dust mites and their waste. Yikes!

3. Wash bedding often in hot water.
Unlike cold water, washing sheets and other bedding in hot water will kill dust mites. Sheets should be washed once a week, while comforters can go one to two months between washings.

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4. Keep your bedroom clean, cool, and dry.

Dust mites and other allergens thrive in warm, humid places. Keep your room below 77 degrees F and consider investing in a dehumidifier in order to create an inhospitable environment for allergy-causing bugs and a comfy, clean place for you.

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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.

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