With the days getting both shorter and colder in the UK, you may be tempted to curl up under your duvet.
But a new case study has highlighted the dangers that duvets can pose to some people – particularly when they’re filled with feathers.
The case study, published in BMJ Case Reports, reveals that a man in Aberdeen suffered severe lung inflammation due to a rare reaction to his duvet, widely known as ‘feather duvet lung.’
The unnamed man, 43, was referred to respiratory specialists after he’d experience fatigue and breathlessness for three months, even when performing the simplest of activities.
In the case report, the man said: “Two months after the onset of the symptoms, I was unable to stand or walk for more than a few minutes at a time without feeling like I was going to pass out.
“Going upstairs to bed was a 30min activity as I could only manage two stairs at a time and then needed to sit and rest. I was signed off work and spent most of the time asleep (day and night).”
The specialists quizzed him about any possible triggers, and found that while there a small amount of mould in his house, and he owned a cat and dog, none of these were responsible.
Instead, further questioning revealed that his feather duvet and pillow were to blame, after he had swapped from a synthetic version.
Blood tests revealed antibodies to bird feather dust, while an X-ray of his chest showed signs of hypersensitivity pneumonitis – a condition in which the lungs become severely inflamed as a result of the body's exaggerated immune response to a certain trigger.
In this man’s case, the trigger was organic dust from the duck or goose feathers in his duvet and pillows.
Following the diagnosis, the man was given a course of steroids and reverted to a synthetic duvet, and thankfully he returned to normal within 12 months.
The researchers hope the case study will highlight the dangers of feather duvets for some people, and encourage doctors to ask patients about their bedding.
They wrote: “Our case reinforces the importance of taking a meticulous exposure history and asking about domestic bedding in patients with unexplained breathlessness.
“Prompt recognition and cessation of antigen exposure may prevent the development of irreversible lung fibrosis.”
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