We spend a substantial of our day indoors be it in the house, office, theatre houses, shops or healthcare facilities, the level of moisture in the house is therefore quite important.
Dampness indoors is an abnormal level of moisture inside the house which could be due to water from outside or defects in the building; leaky roof, condensation, water pipe leaks, poor foundation of the house leading to sippage of water up the wall and also water collections within the house. Thus dampness is commoner in coastal areas where the humidity is high.
This high level of moisture usually leads to growth of various germs such fungi and bacteria, spores from the fungi and bacteria on any material within the house; it is the growth of fungi that causes mould.
Apart from the growth of germs, dampness also encourages the formation of allergens, causes biological and chemical damages to the building structure such that stains are seen on the wall and structurally, the building becomes weaker.
The health effects of dampness and mould are mainly respiratory from running nostrils, to infections in the chest, increased risk of asthmatic attacks and lowered resistance to diseases (immunity)
We shall discuss below some diseases that can arise if your home is damp and mouldy.
1. Common Cold
Common cold also called catarrh is very contagious but self-limiting and not life threatening. It is caused by viruses and spreads through sneezing and direct or indirect contact with affected persons. Indirect contact means contact with items contaminated by nasal discharges of affected persons.
The running nostrils could be due to the air pollutants encouraged by dampness.
2. Repeated attacks of bronchitis
If common cold is not treated on time, the infection can spread down the airways leading to infection of the trachea, bronchi and the lungs. Since the indoor condition is unhealthy, the occupants are likely to suffer from repeated attacks of bronchitis. One of the symptoms of bronchitis is coughing.
Asthma is a non-communicable lifelong condition characterized by occasional narrowing and swelling of the airways through which air enters and leaves our lungs.
The cause of asthma is not quite clear but heredity is thought to play a major role in who gets the disease. If your parent or sibling has it then your risk of having it is high.
Persistent exposure to airborne allergens (things that the body can react to such as pollen, mold, cockroaches, dust) and persistent exposure to cooking smoke when using wood or charcoal are highly incriminated.
Other risk factors include overweight, cigarette smoking, persistent occupational exposure to some chemicals ( those working in places where certain chemicals are used or manufactured such as paint companies, hairdressing saloons are at risk),
4. Noisy breathing (wheezing)/Difficulty in breathing
The allergens produced by the activities of fungi and bacteria can cause the narrowing of the airways leading noising and sometimes difficult breathing in perfectly normal people who are not asthmatic. The condition stops when the affected person changes environment.
Infection of the lungs can arise if there is a production in the lungs leading to Pneumonia; this is less likely to occur if there is no obstructive condition already existing in the lungs
6. Eye Irritation
Eye irrition is another condition in occupants of damp and mouldy houses; this is characterized by discomfort in the eyes, redness of the eyes and excessive tear production.