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Thursday, 29 August, 2002, 00:07 GMT 01:07 UK
Anti-allergy bed covers 'don't work'
Asthma inhaler
Asthma symptoms did not ease
Covering a mattress with a sheet designed to protect from dust mites makes no difference to patients' asthma, claims research.

Even though people who take this step are exposed to less dust mite toxin, there is no evidence that it reduces their suffering from the condition, say experts from the Netherlands.

The covers are designed to reduce the build-up of mites and their toxins in mattresses.

The researchers tested 30 non-smoking asthmatics with house dust mite allergies, half of whom covered up their mattresses, and half of whom did not.

All of those tested had wood or stone floors in their bedrooms.

Checked again

A year later, both groups were checked to see if their asthma had improved, using standard tests such as symptoms and peak breathing flow tests.

The scientists, from the Nederlands Asthmacenter and the University of Utrecht, found that symptoms were broadly the same between the two groups.

There were also no differences in peak flow readings, or in the overall use of asthma medication.

The researchers suggested that because everyone taking part in the study had chronic, long-term asthma, this kind of protection might have had little effect.

Day time exposure

They also speculated that exposure to dust mites in other parts of the home was continuing, even though night-time exposure had fallen.

They wrote, in the journal Thorax: "Future studies should explore whether night time and daytime avoidance measures in the early stages of the disease are more effective."

However, other experts said more research was needed before the true benefits of covers could be known.

Dr John Harvey, Chairman of the Communications Committee of the British Thoracic Society, said:

"This is an interesting study which casts doubt over the effectiveness of anti-allergy mattress covers.

"Whilst the study suggests there is limited clinical benefit from anti-allergy mattress covers, they do appear to reduce house dust mites - a known and established cause of asthma.

"It is clear that the long-term benefits of anti-allergy mattress covers remain uncertain, however, and further research - with larger numbers of patients - is needed into this area."

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04 Jan 01 | Health
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