Dust mite products fail to help asthmatics

Yet again it appears health scares are being used to drive the sale of specialist vacuum cleaners and mattress protectors to asthma suffers desperately searching for a “silver-bullet”, magical cure to breathing problems thought to be caused by the common house mites found in their bedding and soft furnishings.

A review by experts concluded that they failed to curb the allergens commonly held to be the trigger to asthma attacks.

Ordinary house dust contains innumerable allergens but the major cause for concern is considered to be the mites and their waste products.

Many asthmatics are allergic to these mites that live in the dust around the house, such as in bedding, carpets and soft furnishings.


Heavily promoted methods of tackling the mites include mattress and pillow protectors, washing soft furnishings at high temperatures (60C+), special cleaning agents, encapsulation in dry-ice baths and high powered vacuum cleaners fitted with very fine exhaust filters.

However a review of over 50 previous studies – including a survey of over 3000 asthmatics has found no evidence that such methods are effective. Even after such esoteric treatments it was found that the level of allergens were still high enough to trigger asthmatic attacks for the 8% of the British population who are sufferers.

The review, published by Cochrane Collaboration, involved analysing 36 trials involving physical interventions such as mattress protectors designed to block mites out to a further 10 studies using chemical methodology and a further 8 trials combining both chemical and physical interventions.

With Acknowledgement to Daily Telegraph

The UK Cochrane Centre was established at the end of 1992, by the National Health Service Research and Development Programme, ‘to facilitate and co-ordinate the preparation and maintenance of systematic reviews of randomised controlled trials of health care’. During its initial period of funding (1992-1995), the Centre’s objectives included a number of activities intended to promote international collaboration in this work. Centre staff worked with others to help establish The Cochrane Collaboration, which was launched at the first Cochrane Colloquium in Oxford in October 1993. The UK Cochrane Centre is now one of twelve Cochrane Centres around the world, which provide the infrastructure for co-ordinating The Cochrane Collaboration. The Centre supports contributors to The Cochrane Collaboration in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Turkey and countries in the Middle East.

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