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Primrose Farm with Southdown Duvet wool bedding

Feather Lung – An Interesting Article in The Guardian

We are frequently asked about the benefits of a wool duvet and have explained these on our Why Wool page on our website. However, this article published in The Guardian by Nicola Davis is yet another reason to opt for a wool duvet. We’re sure you will find it interesting:

Doctors warn of danger of ‘feather duvet lung’

Medical team say people’s unexplained breathlessness could be down to bedding dust

The Guardian – Nicola Davis

As winter approaches it might be tempting to curl up under a thick feather duvet, but experts have warned it might lead to more than just warm toes.

Doctors have reported a case of “feather duvet lung” – a lung inflammation caused by breathing in dust from the feathers in bedding – and have called for medical professionals to be on the alert if patients turn up with unexplained breathlessness.

The team say the condition, a form of hypersensitivity pneumonitis, is down to an immune response. Symptoms include night sweats, a dry cough and shortness of breath – repeated exposure to the cause can cause irreversible scarring of the lungs.

 “Healthcare professionals are typically taught to ask patients with respiratory symptoms whether they have pets at home, such as birds, but in the authors’ experience, history-taking does not usually extend to asking about feather exposure in duvets and pillows,” they write. “This is an important omission since the use of feather, rather than synthetic, bedding is common.”

Dr Owen Dempsey, consultant chest physician at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and a co-author of the report, said people should not rush to throw away their duvet and pillows, but take note if they experienced breathing problems on switching to feather bedding.

He added that while hypersensitivity pneumonitis appeared to be rare, and the report only covered one case of feather duvet lung, many cases could go unnoticed. “I suspect it is the tip of an iceberg,” he said. “I think there are lots of exposures out there that we are not aware of, and just because we are not aware of them they get ignored.”

Writing in the journal BMJ Case Reports, Dempsey and colleagues from Victoria hospital in Kirkcaldy and the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary describe how a 43-year-old non-smoking man went to his GP after experiencing three months of breathlessness, fatigue and feeling unwell.

His symptoms were put down to a lower respiratory tract infection, but after a brief improvement, worsened.

“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,” the patient – who was not named in the report – said. “Going upstairs to bed was a 30-minute activity as I could only manage two stairs at a time and then needed to sit and rest.”

The man’s blood test results were normal, and he was given a chest x-ray. While this was reported as normal, he was severely breathless and the GP referred him for a respiratory clinic review. Concerned by the x-ray, Dempsey delved into the man’s personal situation, and learned he had recently switched from synthetic to feather bedding.

The man was advised to ditch the bedding, check his chimney and loft for birds and make sure any mould in the house was treated.

Subsequent tests showed the man had unusually high antibodies towards particular proteins from birds – including pigeons and parrots. In addition, further scans showed a pattern in the lungs that hinted at hypersensitivity pneumonitis, while his lung function was significantly impaired.

Within a month of shedding the feather bedding, the man showed clear improvements and, with a subsequent course of steroids, felt completely well after six months.

The team say the most likely diagnosis was feather duvet lung. The condition, they say, is a rare subgroup of “bird fancier’s lung” – itself a form of hypersensitivity pneumonitis – which is caused by exposure to feathers and droppings. Other forms of hypersensitivity pneumonitis include “farmer’s lung” , “bagpiper’s lung”, “paprika slicer’s lung” and even “mummy-handler’s lung”, reflecting the wide range of activities that have been linked to breathing in substances that can cause serious lung inflammation.

“There are several hundred different types of hypersensitivity pneumonitis,” said Dempsey. “For medical professionals it is really important to be nosy and take a meticulous history and ask people about exposures because there are lots of things people do that we don’t always appreciate when we are sitting in a clinic or surgery.”

Here come the Southdown girls … to give you a warm welcome

Big thanks to ‘the paper for Honiton’ our local newspaper, that ran an excellent article this week all about Primrose Farm and our Southdown sheep. Every important member of our team got a mention, from Madonna, (the sheep that opens gates) to Roger the turkey who was, we are sure, delighted to have his own photograph featured. The article finished with a promise to follow up this introduction to the farm with an article on ‘how top quality British Southdown wool, from the farm, makes duvets that are earning Southdown Duvets a worldwide reputation.’  We’re hoping that the town which has made us so welcome will enjoy learning more about us.

Primrose Farm with Southdown Duvet wool bedding
Preparing for Brexit

“I have always maintained that if you have to jump out of an aeroplane, make sure you pack your own parachute and I am now, more than ever, applying this maxim to my business. Since the launch of Southdown Duvets 8 years ago, I have worked too hard building a reputation of excellence, to see it become co-lateral damage as a result of national and cross border political tussles between the numerous Brexit-related vested interests.”

Consequently, I’m delighted to announce that we’re investing in Biella the Wool Company, a Consortium in Italy. The initial 10% investment will streamline Southdown Duvets’ processing and manufacturing, thus reducing its Euro-based costs and protecting the company from further adverse effects Brexit may have on Sterling.

The investment will also open the Italian retail market to the full Southdown Duvets’ range of duvets, mattress covers and pillows with the products being sold directly from the Consortium in Biella, thus expanding Southdown Duvet’s European presence.  

We’re delighted to have the opportunity to formally team up with our Italian Consortium partners who have been so instrumental in helping us build up Southdown Duvets. Their understanding of natural fibres is unsurpassed; expertise that has allowed us to offer a product of exceptional quality and we look forward to expanding the business with them.

Primrose Farm with Southdown Duvet wool bedding
Spring has Sprung

It came as no surprise to us that Devon was officially announced as the wettest county in England in March. However, Spring has sprung at Primrose Farm with the blooming of the primroses that miraculously survived the weather, and with the arrival of our first lamb.

Meet Buttercup who arrived upside down and backwards at 3am. But we don’t mind, her mum dotes on her and we think she is particularly gorgeous.

The Ideal Menopause Show

Southdown Duvets are delighted to have been asked to exhibit at The Ideal Menopause Show on Saturday 28 October 2017. Our duvets are very sympathetic towards women going through the menopause. By naturally controlling the micro-climate around your body, the duvets reduce the effects of hot flushes and night sweats, allowing a markedly improved night’s sleep.

Tickets are available from: www.preventbreastcancer.org.uk/events/ideal-menopause-show

We hope to see you there!

Honiton Show - Southdown Duvets Stall
Prize Winning Honiton Show

In August, Southdown Duvets exhibited at the Honiton Show. Our wool duvets and pillows were hugely popular with the visitors and we were delighted to win second prize for our stand.

However, our lambs, Erica and Eden, definitely stole the show!

Woolley good friends - article with Jessica Cross

Life in Petersfield

(May 2016)

Two women, originally from different ends of the world, have become close knit in their passion for wool. Read More…

Article - Sustainability

Sustainability, Guardian

(November 2014)

Inside the lonely fight against the biggest environmental problem you’ve never heard of. Read More…

Sheering a Southdown ewe

Older Articles

Previously we have had the following articles published…

October 2007: Guardian Newspaper – Challenges of Rural Entrepreneurship

October 2016: Country Life Magazine – How to Sleep Like a Lamb

September 2013 : Woollen Bedding, The Times

January 2013 : Southdown Duvets invited to Wool House

November 2012 : Local Company Wins Prestigious National Award in London. Southdown wins a silver award for their pure wool pillows.

October 2012 : Southdown Duvets feature in Country Homes magazine

December 2011 : Southdown Duvets feature in Country Homes and Interiors calendar 2012

November 2011 : Southdown Duvets short-listed for two House Beautiful Awards. Our duvets were short-listed for awards in the ‘best wool product’ and ‘best soft furnishings

July and August 2011 : We were featured in ‘Life in Petersfield’ magazine.

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