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| Welcome to the National Allergy E-Mail Newsletter! This month, we will explore a key weapon in the fight against household allergens: Bedding Encasings. Are allergies or asthma attacks keeping you up at night, or making you dread the morning? More and more studies show that Americans are suffering from inconsistent and unrestful sleep. Since almost 60 million Americans suffer from allergies or asthma, it is surely no coincidence that this national restlessness exists. Allergists agree that bedding encasings are the most effective way to alleviate allergic symptoms in dust mite sensitive patients, and prevent further illness.
In this issue we address such topics as:
The National Allergy Newsletter Team
P.S. Be sure to check out our exclusive offers for newsletter subscribers only!
Why Doctors Recommend Allergen-Proof EncasingsAbout 20 years ago, researchers began to wonder what could be done in the home environment to help control the allergen triggers that cause asthmatic and allergic reactions. Because we spend 1/3 of our life in our bedroom, it seemed the natural environment on which to focus. Tests were done in which one group got zippered allergen-proof encasings on their bedding, while the control group had no encasings. The results of even such simple tests were dramatic.
"At the end of a 1-month study period, there was a marked and statistically significant difference in symptoms and signs of asthma between the two groups."And from an article published by Johns Hopkins:
"Mite population and allergen levels decreased by 90% or more within a month of placing mattress and pillow covers and treating bedding."Here are the facts: dust mites love the warm, humid conditions of our bedding, so much so, that the typical used mattress may have anywhere from 100,000 to 10 million mites inside! Sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, and wheezing are some typical reactions to dust mite allergen. Think of your immune system as a bucket. As you breathe in allergens, your "bucket" begins filling up, but you don't experience irritating symptoms until your "bucket" overflows. Encasings are an integral part of keeping your "bucket" from overflowing.
Doctors know the residual benefit of sleeping in an allergen-free environment. In fact, according to a recent medical journal article, "studies of primary prevention of allergic disease have demonstrated that decreased exposure to allergens in infancyúmay prevent the development of allergic disease."(German JA, Harper MB. "Environmental Control of Allergic Diseases." American Family Physician. August 2002) So even if you or your children have not been diagnosed with allergies or asthma, encasings are still an invaluable investment in your family's health.
How Encasings WorkDust mites are tiny creatures, typically around 250-300 micrometers in length. By comparison, a single grain of beach sand can be more than 800 micrometers! Humans react to the proteins in the dust mite allergen (approximately 10 microns in size), made up of decomposed mite bodies and their feces. Because of the microscopic size of dust mites and their allergen, the technology used to develop and manufacture zippered "mite-proof" encasings can be complicated. However, the process by which they make users feel better is fairly simple.
First, the mites that are inside the encased pillow or mattress are trapped. Blocked from their constant food source (your shed, dead skin cells), they eventually die. In the meantime, any mite allergen is completely blocked by the encasing from getting into the air you and your family breathe. It should be noted that because zippered enclosures are not a tight enough seal to completely prevent the escape of mite allergen, some doctors recommend zipper-tape for maximum protection.
There are several methods for judging the effectiveness of encasing fabrics. While some encasing products boast a tiny "pore size" as a mark of mite-resistance, the smaller the pore size, the less breathable the encasing. In addition, there is no standard for measuring pore size in non-membrane materials because the weaves all vary slightly. The best assessment of encasing's effectiveness and comfort is to measure how much allergen is actually transferred through the material vs. how much airflow the material allows. Independent labs perform various tests to measure each of these properties.
IBT Reference Labs performs rigorous testing both on National Allergy fabrics, and the fabrics of other companies as well. The following chart shows the airflow and amount of mite allergen and cat allergen (used because it is ten times smaller than mite allergen) that passes through three of our different encasing styles versus the lab-control poly-cotton fabric.
** Data from an independent test performed by IBT Reference Labs. Lenexa, KS. July 2007.
^ Amount of allergen passed through the fabric is considered to be too small to measure.
Are Bedding Encasings Comfortable?If you or your child were diagnosed with allergies 15 years ago, you may have left the doctor's office confused by all the changes you would need to make to your home environment. Perhaps the doctor suggested "plastic covers" for your family's pillows, mattresses and box springs. After a few sticky, crinkly nights on your brand new plastic covers, you may have chosen to suffer with allergic symptoms in exchange for an encasing-free, night's sleep.
The scientific evidence supporting the benefits of encasings hasn't changed, but - fortunately for allergy sufferers - the technology used to make them has! Doctors still recommend zippered, allergen-proof encasings, but the choices and comfort levels available are better than ever before.
From our inception, National Allergy has been known as the nation's premier, doctor-recommended source for bedding encasings. The first zippered mattress and pillow encasings were often made from vinyl. The problem with vinyl was the lack of breathability, making sleep hot and uncomfortable. Today, membrane-free, barrier technology has made fabrics available that are soft, breathable (as seen in the chart above), lightweight and barely detectable on the bed.
Some of our readers may remember the earliest "improved" encasings, such as those made from terry cloth bonded to thick vinyl. We also introduced a polyester "Tricot-knit" fabric bonded to vinyl that was more flexible than the first generation of materials. While those newer innovations offered more comfort and flexibility, encasing-users could only dream of what would be coming off of looms in the next decade.
About 10 years ago, National Allergy introduced new membrane technology called SatinSoft ClassicTM (now called BedCare Classic). This product features a silky-soft knit polyester fabric that is bonded to an ultra-thin, very lightweight Comfortech" membrane made of polyurethane. The BedCare Classic is much cooler and more comfortable than thick vinyl yet still adds a degree of water resistance for those who want added protection for bedding. We still carry this time-honored favorite and guarantee its comfort and mite-blocking effectiveness.
The latest generation of allergen-proof encasings are free of membranes altogether. SofTEK2 fabric, used to make BedCare Basics encasings, replaces our original SofTek non-woven fabric. BedCare Basics is a very popular economical choice for thousands of our customers. While it does not carry the lifetime warranty of our other BedCare encasing products, SofTEK2 is our most lightweight, inexpensive material. SofTEK2, which has a 10 year warranty, is a a high-tech, non-woven, microfiber fabric that is 70% polyester microfiber and 30% nylon. Non-woven fabric manufacturers employ technology that blows fibers from different angles, one on top of another, to create an impenetrable barrier to dust mites with maximum comfort for you. Non-woven materials are used in a variety of industries and professions from home furnishings to hospitals.
The BedCare Supreme, BedCare Ultra, and BedCare Elegance materials take membrane-free, barrier-weave technology to the next level. The image at right is BedCare Supreme magnified to show this barrier-weave technology. These woven encasings are offered with a lifetime guarantee against defects in materials and workmanship.
Why are we so excited about the latest and greatest in encasing technology? Because it means our customers are sleeping better with more comfort and fewer dust mites than ever! Today, National Allergy still distributes heavy-duty, all-vinyl encasings, but these are recommended only for box springs.
How To Choose Which Encasing Style Is Best For My Family And MeThe style and size choices available for encasings today can be confusing. All National Allergy encasings are made with rust-proof, zippered enclosures and reinforced seams to ensure complete quality and great protection. Here is a chart you can reference when making your next encasing purchase, or pass along to a friend or family member who suffers from allergies or asthma.
How Else Can I Have An "Allergy-Free" Bed?There are a few other important steps you can take to make your sleep as allergy-free as possible. Since dust mites can still dwell in your sheets, blankets and extra pillows, wash them often, particularly in pollen season or if you have pets.
Studies show that washing fabrics at temperatures above 140F every 1-2 weeks will kill the dust mites. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that for child-safety reasons, water temperatures should be below 120F. The best solution for eliminating dust mites and their allergen in your clothes and bedding without the wear and concern of extra-hot washings, is to wash in cold or warm water with a benzyl benzoate-based additive such as de-mite Laundry Additive. Benzyl benzoate is non-toxic and scientifically proven to kill mites. de-mite combines benzyl benzoate with tea tree oil as a subtly fragrant, effective weapon against house dust mites.
Unfortunately, not all blankets can be conveniently washed, and snuggling up to a fluffy comforter in the cold winter months could be a recipe for headaches and runny noses. Instead of having to replace your favorite comforter, you can seal it in a completely mite-proof barrier. National Allergy's comforter covers are made from the luxurious BedCare Supreme material and come in four colors.
If you have a fluffy down comforter with a removable duvet, the AllerZap Inner Liner, with a 5 year warranty, is a lightweight option for healthier sleep. Made from the original SofTEK material, the inner liner goes under your decorative cover to add life to your comforter and protect you and your family from dust mite allergen. Lightweight, inexpensive SofTEK2 pillow encasings are also ideal under decorative shams, or for use on hotel pillows when you travel!
This Month's Product SpecialsSince you are a friend of National Allergy, you may already have made your bed a safe-haven from dust and pet allergens. However, you probably have friends or family members who could benefit from knowing what you know and have experienced a good, healthy night's sleep! Please pass this newsletter along to those who may want to know more about the latest in encasing technology.
You could also consider allergy-proofing a friend or family member's bed as a holiday gift. They will surely be pleased to prolong the life of their mattress and box spring. And of course, they will finally feel the benefits of dust mite-free sleep to bring in a healthier New Year. Take advantage of the specials in this newsletter and Give the Gift of Healthy Sleep to your loved ones!
If you have specific questions about encasings, e-mail us at email@example.com and we'll do our best to help.
Stay tuned next month for another look at the aggravating factors behind allergy, asthma, and sinus problems and helpful things you can do to find relief, an exciting coupon, more exclusive offers, and another chance to win an Austin Air HM-400 Air Purifier.
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