Basement Mold and Mildew – Symptoms and How it Affects Your Health

Basements have optimal conditions for the growth of mold and mildew. Darkness and dampness are two things that mold and mildew thrive in, which are very common for an unfinished basement. You know you have mold when either see it forming on wood and in corners, or you smell the characteristic musty odor it gives off.

If you spot black mold (known as ‘stachybotrys’, it is vitally important to get it checked out immediately since this is the worst type of mold. These molds are toxigenic, meaning they can product toxins that can be incredibly harmful when the spores are inhaled (the mold itself is not toxic.)

Not only does mold grow on walls and wood, but it tends to flourish on products made of cotton, paper, linen, and other protein-based substances like leather and wool. Stachybotrys thrives on materials rich in cellulose (wood). So if you’re storing stuff in a basement with a mold problem, it can easily spread and ruin the value of those items.

But the worst part of having mold and mildew in your home and basement are the vast array of health problems it can cause.

Different people with different immune systems will react to mold differently. Typically, children and seniors are most at risk from serious mold problems, but they can affect anybody, especially those with allergies or other respiratory problems.

Mild Symptoms

Mild Symptoms include nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, and skin irritation. Allergic responses like those to pollen also happen with mold. Inhaling or touching mold can cause a person who was not allergic to mold to become allergic to it.

Those with a pre-existing asthma condition can make it worse by exposing themselves to mold.

In 2004 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found there was sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people; with asthma symptoms in people with asthma; and with hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals susceptible to that immune-mediated condition. The IOM also found limited or suggestive evidence linking indoor mold exposure and respiratory illness in otherwise healthy children.Source

Severe Symptoms

Severe Symptoms and reactions to mold include fever and shortness of breath. Extended exposure to mold can cause certain people with chronic lung diseases to develop mold infections in their lungs.

Hypersensitivity pneumonitis is a type of lung inflammation similar to an allergy. It is mistaken for common pneumonia, but will not get better with antibiotics. Symptoms usually appear 2-8 hours after exposure to mold and can last a few days. Over time, the persistent lung inflammation can lead to scarring and permanent damage.

What to do if you suffer from these symptoms?

If you find yourself getting ill every time you venture into your basement, you are more than likely reacting to mold. Talk to your doctor immediately to determine if your problems are caused by mold (reactions to mold will have similar symptoms to other common diseases.)The most important thing is to get your basement dry and safe for humans. Mold cannot flourish without the right conditions.

Here are some do it yourself tips for preventing mold growth and several interesting facts about mold: 

Rightway Waterproofing offers a Free Home Inspection to assess your mold problem. If you have the slightest hunch that mold may be growing in your home, take advantage of this Free home inspection now!

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John and Barbara Vicich

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