As autumn takes its hold and we reach for our woollies, other clues to a change in Season are the sniffles and sneezes spreading like wild fire around schools and day-care centres. Melissa was a September baby, born at a time when balmy evenings were waning. I remember those blissful few weeks walking in the park as the leaves changed to a myriad of colours. Then as winter closed in she got a cold. Not just a sniffle, but a blocked nose that interfered with her breathing, and a wheeze and night time cough that stopped her sleeping. As the months went on I began to wonder, was this more than a case of the common cold?
For those with Asthma, Autumn can be an especially stressful time of year because even a simple cold virus can trigger an asthma attack. In the UK about 15% of children are affected with asthma, a figure that is 8-10 times higher than in developing countries, but why?
The origin of asthma is not yet fully understood but is probably explained by a combination of hereditary and environmental trigger factors, including an increase in exposure to pollution and indoor allergens. Whatever the cause, asthma is a serious and sometimes fatal condition that must be carefully managed.
Asthma is difficult to diagnose in children, especially if your child is too young to articulate what they are experiencing. However, according to research, children often show the first signs of asthma during sleep; as airway function decreases as sleep progresses. So watch out for a prolonged night time cough, wheeze and breathlessness that disturbs your child’s sleep; especially if there’s a family history of asthma or allergies. Whilst it is important that you visit your doctor for a diagnosis, there are also a number of steps you should take to insure that your home is asthma and allergy proofed. This reduces the worry of a Nocturnal Asthma attack and helps your child get a restful night’s sleep.
Asthma-proof your child’s bedroom
When you are designing your child’s bedroom think about the simplicity of the minimalist Scandinavian style. Clean blinds and light fittings that don’t attract dust or mould. Clutter free cupboards and shelves and a well ventilated room stops damp from forming. Sadly, soft toys attract dust, and although cute, should not be adorning your child’s room. Pick one they like best and make sure it’s washed and thoroughly dried regularly.
Nocturnal Asthma Triggers
One of the most common triggers of Nocturnal Asthma attacks are dust mites and their droppings as well as moulds and fungus’s that grow naturally in your child’s mattress and duvet. In order to reduce exposure to these asthma triggers, make sure that the bedroom is clean and free of dust by steam cleaning carpets and vacuuming regularly. Children should start their sleeping lives with a new mattress encased in allergen-impermeable coverings. These casings are efficient at blocking out dust mites and mould spores, but they are also breathable and water permeable.
Studies show that more dust mites live in the bedroom than any other room in the house. Therefore, an allergy free duvet is one of the most important purchases you can make for your child. Silk filled duvets containing 100% pure and natural Mulberry silk are ideal for asthma and allergy sufferers, as dust mites, bed bugs and other microscopic life cannot live in Mulberry silk. Furthermore, Mulberry silk is used in its natural state; no chemicals or anything else is added in the production process. Beware of inferior products that claim allergy benefits. Bedding made from tussah silk, feather down, wool and other synthetic materials need to be chemically treated before use and could therefore trigger a Nocturnal Asthma attack.
I was fortunate enough to be given a Mulberry Silk-filled duvet by Silk bedding Direct who give 10% of their proceeds to the charity Asthma UK. The duvet was for Melissa to try and she was extremely exciting to have such a huge parcel arrive for her in the post. When I put it on her bed, its cotton casing and silk filling seemed so light in texture I was worried that it wouldn’t keep her warm. Yet true to its claim it fitted so snugly around her little body that she commented ‘Mummy, I like my new bed it’s so cosy and warm’.
Silk-filled duvets breathe allowing both excess heat and moisture to escape whilst retaining warmth on colder nights; helping little ones sleep better. Melissa always kicks off the duvet as she gets too hot, and then wakes in the early hours cold and exposed. With this duvet she kept herself covered all night long, so there was no 3am duvet re-arranging for us, what a bonus! As well as the hypo-allergic and anti-dust mite benefits, it is also said that silk-filled duvets are good for eczema sufferers and promote relaxation of the central nervous system – perfect for little ones that struggle to fall asleep or wake frequently in the night.
Research on House Dust Mite & Asthma
Interestingly, the Daily Mail documented that three out of four beds and bedroom carpets contain allergens such as house dust mites above the safety levels recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Research indicates that if simple measures such as using appropriate bedding were implemented to reduce the house dust mite, asthma related visits to the GP could be cut by 60% and many individuals may significantly reduce their use of prescription inhalers. This would bring welcome relief for many worried parents and a huge improvement to the quality of life for asthmatics.
Stirling Howieson, author of Are our homes making us ill? And researcher at Strathclyde University said that ‘…. for around £500, most homes could become healthy places to live, rather than triggering chronic ill-health’. The results would be well worth the effort – better breathing, fewer medications and a greater freedom from allergy and asthma attacks!
Are you a family of asthma or allergy sufferers? Have you found benefit from implementing clean-home strategies for Nocturnal Asthma? Or are you just someone trying to live a healthier lifestyle? I’d love to hear from you. Please leave any comments below.
* Thanks to Silk Bedding Direct for providing the duvet for review.