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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

Mold and mildew problems can be a major health threat, as well as damage entire walls, floors and ceilings. Some individuals show no symptoms following mold exposure, whereas others develop adverse skin and respiratory reactions that are brought on by allergies or other sensitivities.

Mold and mildew can be pink, brown, green or black, growing indoors when relative humidity is at or above 50%, and when the temperature rises above 40 degrees. People react negatively to mold after inhaling airborne mold spores, after touching moldy materials, or after ingesting moldy food.

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

Itchy Eyes and Skin

Mold and mildew can trigger the release of histamines by the body. Histamines cause itchy, watery eyes or a burning sensation. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), histamines can induce further inflammation in patches of skin. Irritation, redness, itching and swelling can harm skin, 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 symptom.

Prolonged exposure to fungal allergens or very high levels can worsen inflammation, allowing or prompting it to spread to the throat and airways, and induce 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 disease or other conditions that suppress immune system function. As the Merck Manual’s 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. If you need help with the inspection or removal process, don’t hesitate to contact professionals. It’s well worth the investment.

If you have mold or mildew growing in your home or anywhere you spend a lot of time, your health could be at risk. Exposure to mold may trigger a wide range of allergy-like symptoms.