More than 5 million people in the UK suffer have been diagnosed with asthma. Although the severity of symptoms does vary from person to person, asthma can be a life-threatening condition with a serious impact on quality of life.
Asthma attacks can be triggered by a variety of different factors. Some people have difficulty breathing during exercise while others have a reaction to dust or other allergens that can cause their airways to tighten and cause shortness of breath. Managing asthma may require regular medicine in the form of bronchodilators or steroids. Sufferers will often try and minimise their contact with any allergens that can trigger an attack.
Domestic mould, and the conditions which create it can be a common trigger for asthma symptoms, so it is important to understand why this happens and what you can do to reduce your risk.
The main way that mould affects asthma is the way it spreads. Like other types of fungi, mould sheds tiny spores which are carried away from the colony in the air and if the conditions are right where they land, they will start to grow. These spores are microscopic and can easily be inhaled. Mould spores irritate the airways of people with asthma, and this irritation can cause an allergic response that constricts the flow of air and triggers breathlessness and wheezing. In a house with severe mould problems, where there are large patches of mould on walls or ceilings, the concentration of spores in the air can be consistently high, and this means that there is little respite from their irritation.
The conditions in which mould grows can also be a factor that affects people with asthma. Mould typically thrives in damp and cool conditions. Living in a colder property with high levels of humidity can increase the spread of certain respiratory conditions which will often “get onto the chest” of people with asthma and trigger their symptoms. Dampness is associated with poor general health and a weaker immune system, which will in turn increase the severity of any minor illnesses that residents contract, making them last longer.
If you find that mould in your home is making your asthma worse, the first thing you should do is to remove the immediate threat to your health by arranging for the mould to be cleaned. Fungicidal cleaners or dilute bleach can be sprayed onto mould patches and then wiped away. This kills the mould on the surface of a wall or ceiling and prevents it from releasing more spores.
People with asthma should take additional precautions when cleaning mould to reduce the risk of inhalation. A good quality face covering should be worn along with eye protection and gloves. These should be disposed of after use along with the cloths that were used to remove the mould.
It is important to remember that cleaning the mould from the surface of a wall or ceiling is only a temporary measure. Mould spreads quickly and unless you take steps to stop the dampness that allows mould to grow, it will return.
The most common domestic cause of the damp patches that create mould is condensation. Steam released into the air during cooking and bathing will form droplets of water on cool surfaces such as windows and exterior walls. Here it soaks through the surface creating areas of damp where the plaster can crumble and allow mould to take hold.
Reducing the humidity of your home by ensuring that bathrooms and kitchens are properly ventilated and that extractor fans are used correctly is important. Extractor fans remove the water vapour from the air and allow fresh air to replace it. This will prevent condensation and ultimately stop mould for good.
Different types of ventilation systems are available and choosing the optimum solution for your needs is essential. Whole house systems such as Positive Input Ventilation (PIV) can be beneficial for people with asthma as they improve airflow throughout the entire property which reduces the concentration of allergens in the air including pollen, dust mite waste, volatile organic compounds from cleaning products and mould spores. These systems draw fresh filtered air into the property at roof level and gently circulate the air around the property to stop condensation from forming.
If you have discovered mould in your property and are concerned about the risk to your health, it is important to act as soon as possible. Our local ventilation specialists can visit your home to conduct a free survey that will identify the sources of condensation and they can provide you with advice about the best solution for your needs. Simply enter your postcode below to find an expert near you.
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