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The Harmful Effects of Mold and Mildew

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| 2011 Oct 31 |
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The Harmful Effects of Mold and Mildew

Although people often confuse Mold with Mildew, the fact is that both of them can cause health issues, from coughing and sneezing to poisoning. Besides having a harmful effect on your health, it can also be responsible for damage to your walls, floors and ceilings.

 

But before we talk more about the effects mold and mildew can have, it is very important to understand what mold is and how mildew is different from mold in order to learn how to deal with both of them. It is also very important to understand that some individuals show no symptoms after being exposed to mold, whereas others develop adverse skin and respiratory reactions that are brought on by allergies or other sensitivities.

While mold is a type of fungus which can form, grow and become your worst nightmare, mildew on the other hand is is just an accumulation of dirt and grime. Mold and mildew can both be pink, brown, green or black. Lighter shades are often associated with mildew, while darker represent mold.

When it comes to indoor conditions both mildew and mold need, they are pretty much the same – relative humidity has to be at least 50% and the temperature has to be above 40 degrees. People react negatively to mold after inhaling airborne mold spores, after touching moldy materials, or after ingesting moldy food and, between mold and mildew, mold is definitely the one you should be worried about in most cases.

Listed below are 3 the most common health effects of mold and mildew:

Itchy Eyes and Skin

Mold and mildew can trigger the release of histamines in the body. Histamines cause itchy, watery eyes or a burning sensation. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), histamines can induce further inflammation in patches of skin. Irritation, redness, and  itching and swelling. Your skin can definitely be harmed, especially when patients come into direct contact with mold and mildew.

Nasal and Bronchial Symptoms

Nasal passages are another part of our bodies that are affected by exposure to mold and mildew, which often leads to respiratory inflammation. Symptoms may include a runny nose, as well as nasal and sinus congestion. Severe cases can result in sinusitis, a painful sinus condition that may be more difficult to resolve than the typical irritation or allergy symptoms.

Prolonged exposure to fungal allergens can worsen the inflammation, allowing or prompting it to spread to the throat and airways, and inducing coughing and wheezing, as the lungs work harder to inhale and exhale. Health effects from isolated incidents may not recur in patients with low-level sensitivities.

Infection and Illness

Mildew problems pose especially harmful risks for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases or other conditions that suppress immune system function. As the Merck Manuals Online Medical Library notes, fungal spores can invade the lungs and begin to grow, causing symptoms such as blood clots and bleeding that can quickly escalate to the extent that they’re life-threatening.

Furthermore, according to the CDC, ongoing mold and mildew problems may cause otherwise healthy children to develop chronic breathing problems. Adults with intense mold allergies can develop serious respiratory health conditions such as asthma, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, chronic bronchitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Needless to say, it’s essential to take immediate action to remove mold and mildew at the first sign of a problem. Although both of them can cause health issues, mildew is the only one we think you should remove by yourself. Since it is mostly dirt, you can use a mild detergent and damp cloth to remove it. On the other hand, mold is a completely different thing.

If you noticed signs of mold, it is important to look at the whole situation. If it just started forming or you have a very small surface covered with mold, than you can treat it on your own with store bought products.

But, and this is very important – if you have a major issue, like a whole wall covered or there is an unpleasant, musty odor and you cannot find from where it comes, it is time to get professionals to deal with the issue.