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Don’t Let Your Child with Asthma Sleep on the Bottom Bunk!

This falls under the category of whaaaaaaat??? (Mind blown!)

When my kids were little, we had a REALLY tough time trying to control their asthma. We were at asthma doc’s office – a LOT! I like to think of us as his favorite patients… but really – my middle son and daughter were some of his toughest patients. In fact, at one point, asthma doc was going to send my middle son to the National Jewish Hospital in Denver because he couldn’t figure out how to control my middle son’s asthma.

That was 19 years ago and we were new to asthma (now it’s my career). But back then “we didn’t know what we didn’t know.”

The asthma doctor was a wealth of information”

In addition to trying different controller inhalers and allergy shots for my middle son, he asked us a lot of questions about our home.

Our home? What did that have to do with asthma? A LOT! Asthma doc explained how different things in our home could affect our kid’s allergies and asthma.

  • Did our home have carpet?
  • Did we burn scented candles?
  • Did anyone smoke in the house?
  • Did we have eucalyptus wreaths or flower arrangements?
  • Did we have cats or dogs?
  • Did we have mold?
  • Did we have bunk beds?

Bunk beds?

Um, yes! I could answer no to all the other questions, but since we were in our first home at the time (and it was quite small), our sons had to share a room with bunk beds. Asthma doc said, “Don’t let your middle son sleep in the bottom bunk.”

I must have looked dumbfounded staring at him with my mouth hanging open, so he went on to explain why. He said that if you think about it, the child on the bottom bunk is going to inhale whatever is dropping off the top bunk. That includes dust and dust mites – which not only fall into the “irritant category” (tiny particles which makes the lungs cranky), but you can also be allergic to dust mites.

MedicineNet1 says:

“Researchers in Spain recently found that children sleeping in the tops and bottom bunks of bunk beds were equally likely to develop an allergy to dust mites. However, the child sleeping on the bottom bunk was at a significantly higher risk of developing asthma than the child on the top bunk. It may be that the health aspects of bunking together should be considered when planning children’s room designs, especially for families with asthma and allergy histories.”

The problem was that BOTH of our sons had asthma, so one of them was going to have to sleep on the bottom bunk! Asthma doc suggested we do a few things to make their room more allergy and asthma friendly.

Dust mite proof mattress pad

He said we should have dust mite proof mattress pad covers on all of the mattresses in the house (even our bed – in case the kids jumped into our bed to snuggle). Mattress pad covers with a zipper (that encases the entire mattress) can be more effective than a mattress pad topper.

Asthma doc also suggested dust mite proof zippered pillowcase covers to keep dust and dust mites from escaping the pillows. And to wash all of the boy’s bedding once a week in hot water. That seemed to make a big difference until we moved to a new house where my sons could have their own rooms.

If you have a child with asthma who sleeps on the bottom bunk, see if zippered mattress pad covers and pillowcase covers help. Or let me know anything else you have tried that works!

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Asthma.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Allergy Treatment Begins at Home. Medicine.net. https://library.usciences.edu/help/citation-ama.asp#print_article_plus. Accessed 9/23/2019

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