Recently I had a patient that suffered from chronic sinus infections. In addition, to treating her aggressively with anti-fungal medication( 80+% of chronic sinusitis patients have underlying fungal infections) we looked at her home to see if that is where she was being exposed to mold. The testing included plating her pillow for fungi.
What many people do not realize is that there might be a miniature ecosystem living in our pillows. A study from the University of Manchester shows the average household pillow can play host to up to 16 kinds of fungi. Researchers took samples from 10 pillows ( five synthetic, five feather) that had been used for 18 months to 20 years. All of the pillows had evidence of fungi, with four to 16 species on each. Synthetic pillows had particularly high amounts of fungus Aspergillus fumigatus which invade the lungs and can exacerbate asthma. Researchers say the fungi feed on skin cells and dust mite feces found on the pillows. They found that feather pillows reduce the exposure to fungi.
So if you have a favorite pillow that has been around for a while and you suffer from allergies, asthma or chronic sinusitis you might consider getting a new pillow.