For people with environmental allergies, the air they breathe can trigger reactions – even during sleep. Hypoallergenic mattress and pillow covers work for some but not all.
A new study was presented at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology annual meeting that tested whether sleeping masks could reduce allergic reactions in children with asthma.
Researchers followed 31 children with asthma who slept wearing masks for four weeks.
The children had a higher percentage of days without asthma symptoms and better lung capacity during the four weeks that they wore sleeping masks.
Keigo Kainuma, MD, of the Institute for Clinical Research, Mie National Hospital in Japan, and colleagues wanted to find out whether wearing a mask during sleep could improve asthma control and lung function in asthmatic children.
The researchers specifically wondered if the mask could reduce the children’s asthma attacks by filtering out particles in the air that could cause allergic reactions
To carry out their research, Dr. Kainuma and colleagues recruited 31 children with asthma triggered by dust mites. Their average age was 8.4 years old.
The children were instructed to wear a mask while they were sleeping for four weeks. The children then slept without the mask for four weeks.
The children wore cone-shaped, non-woven, fabric masks that allowed them to breathe easily during sleep.
All participants took the same asthma control medications that they normally took to treat their symptoms.
During the study period, the researchers counted how many days the children needed to use their asthma control medication. They also measured the children’s lung capacity.
The analysis showed that the children’s asthma was controlled for an average of 90.7 percent of the days when they wore masks.
During the period when the children slept without masks, their asthma was controlled for an average of 82.1 percent of the days.
The results also indicated that children’s lung capacity improved during the mask-wearing phase of the study.
When the children were sleeping with masks, the average amount of airflow the children could blow out of their lungs each morning was 270 liters per minute.
While the children were sleeping without masks, their average airflow was 263 liters per minute.
“Wearing a mask during sleep may be an effective allergen avoidance measure to improve asthma control and to alleviate rhinitis symptoms,” the authors wrote.
It’s important to note that there was a small number of subjects in this study, which means there is a need for more research on larger populations to confirm the results.
The study was presented at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas on February 24. The study has yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, so the results are still preliminary.
It was published as an abstract in a supplement of the February issue of The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.