Fungi and bedding

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: January 20th, 2006
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

If you think the world can be a bit of a struggle, take a look at where you rest your fevered brow.

It’s a jungle in there.

It’s long been known that dust mites roam the ranges of our pillows. And people steam up the fluffy rainforest by secreting dozens of liters of sweat into their beds during a year.

Now, findings from Britain confirm the old saying: There is a fungus among us.

Scientists from the University of Manchester found up to sixteen different fungi living in each of five synthetic pillows and five feather pillows that had been plucked from regular use.

The research, printed in the journal Allergy, may be the first scientific pillow talk since 1936, when a paper detailed fungi growing in bed pillows.

Since then, synthetic pillows have come into use, potentially providing breeding grounds for many new species of fungi.

Scientists certainly aren’t urging people to toss their pillows in the trash.

The fungi probably cause no risk for healthy people. They may even help by exercising the immune system. But for people with allergies, or those who are susceptible to diseases caused by fungal infections, the finding may be important.

Probably more irksome is the knowledge of the feeding frenzy going on beneath our heads. Fungi eat human skin scales and dust mites munch on fungi and skin. It’s not very noisy, but the thought of all that activity is enough to keep you up at night.