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Beware: Some people have serious allergic reactions to feather bedding and jackets

Written by Diane Archer

Winter is fast upon us. And, thousands of us will buy a new feather blanket, pillow or jacket. Beware: Wudan Yan reports for The New York Times that, in a small number of cases, feather products could cause an infection in your lower respiratory tract.

After buying new feather bedding, one 43-year old man felt tired and out of breath all the time for three months without appreciating the cause. Fortunately, his doctor asked a lot of questions about his domestic situation. After ruling out allergies to dogs, cats and mold, the doctor asked whether the man had new feather bedding.

A chest X-ray and blood test revealed that the man had hypersensitivity pneumonitis or lung disease. It was caused by antibodies or allergies to bird feather dust, aerosolized bacteria and fungi. That dust was in the man’s new bedding.

This type of lung disease is uncommon. But, if left undetected, it can cause respiratory failure or scarring in the lungs.

Should you buy a duck or goose feather jacket or bedding? Allergic reactions that lead to lung disease are rare enough that you should buy goose or duck feather products if you are so inclined. However, if you become out of breath or start coughing soon after, try staying clear of the feathers. Allergies could be the cause. You should also talk to your doctor.

Steroids will help if you do have an allergic reaction to the feathers. Also, consider replacing your feathered items with hypoallergenic ones.

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