Inspect Your Home For Mold
Having COPD is a big enough problem, but if you add mold exposure to the situation, it can create a perfect storm for your health. Shortness of breath can become a problem in otherwise healthy people that have a sensitivity to molds, as it causes inflammation in the lungs as the lungs try to protect itself.1
Mold's effect on the respiratory system
Respiratory inflammation or irritation is a common symptom for someone when in buildings known to have water damage resulting in mold growth.2 If this is known to happen in healthy individuals, it would be safe to say that those with COPD would be at an even greater risk of exacerbation if exposed to mold.
This is one thing that I wish we would have taken more seriously. I always wondered if mold may have played an additional role in my mom's health. There were at least two occasions that mold was found in their home during the last few years. However, we never properly tested the home for mold spores, and we really should have.
How mold grows in and around the home
Mold can grow wherever there has been water damage and in areas where the ventilation is not sufficient. It is not necessarily a reflection of someone's ability to clean. It can happen out of sight, behind walls, under the floor and even around the windows. However, that does not make it any less of a problem.2
Inspecting your home for mold
If you believe that your home smells moldy or musty, it would be a good idea to check for mold.3 If your home has had any water damage in the past or if you have a basement, checking your home often for mold could be a great first defense to keep it from developing into a real problem. It is possible to test the air of your home through mold testing kits, easily found for purchase online. Most tests will need to be sent to a lab for results, but knowing whether or not there is mold can help you in your fight to keep exacerbations at a minimum.
If you find mold, it is important to get rid of it as quickly as possible
If the situation is bad enough, the COPD patient may need to relocate while the area is being repaired and cleaned. While this may be inconvenient, the thoughts of having an exacerbation caused by mold far outweighs packing a bag to stay someplace else for a little while.
Mold should be removed carefully as stirring the spores could cause problems, even in the healthy individual cleaning the area. Generally, removing the area damaged by the mold and applying bleach to kill the spores and clean the surrounding area will have positive results.3 However, if you are unsure about your ability to effectively remove the mold, this may be one of those areas to call a professional.
How has your experience been navigating the healthcare system as someone with COPD?