Mold – A Hidden Cause of Coughs
Can’t wait for your week at the beach, but you start to cough as soon as you get there? It could be from mold lurking in your vacation home: in the bathroom, the ducts of the ventilation system, or even in the wallboard where you can’t see it. For my friends in more northern climates, this is a problem when they go to the beach or to the lake, where it’s hot and humid in the summer. Here in Miami, we have this problem year round!
Mold forms when conditions are right: it’s warm, humid, dark and ventilation is poor. This could be in a bathroom in a hot climate, when people take a shower and the steam lingers long afterwards, away from sunlight. It can happen in a vacation home in a hot, humid climate when the house gets closed up for the winter. Or mold can form in the pipes and filters of the heating-air condition system in any home.
Black mold, the most insidious kind of mold, forms inside the wallboard, where you can’t see it. The visible surface of the wall may look fine, but if you were to rip out the wallboard and look inside, you would see it covered with black spots of mold. This can happen after a flood (it was a terrible problem in homes in New Orleans after Katrina) or after a leak in the roof. The worst winter storms a few years ago in the Northeast caused ice dams in the roofs, which led to water seeping down inside the walls as the ice melted. Mold inside the walls of houses has become a much worse problem in recent years, as construction has made the houses tighter (with less circulation of outside air) and as fungicidal paints have led mold to mutate toward more toxic forms.
If you find yourself coughing when walking into a mold-ridden vacation home for the first time, your lungs are reacting to the irritation of the mold spores in the air. Listed below are three of the most effective ways to deal with mold while you’re on vacation:
- You need a HEPA filter to take these mold spores as well as dust and pollen out of the air. You’ll be clearing out a lot of potential allergens and irritants at once.
- If mold continues to be a problem, consider a propolis vaporizer. Propolis is an amazing substance collected by bees from pine tree sap and used to keep their hives absolutely sterile. Bees are so smart! A bee hive could be a perfect breeding ground for all kinds of molds and bacteria, as it’s warm, dark and almost totally sealed off. But it’s sterile — and that’s because of propolis.
- Essential oils in a vaporizer can have potent anti-fungal activity. These include clove oil and cinnamon oil. Actually there are many others, but clove and cinnamon will be the most fragrant!
Of course if you have mold in your home, propolis or other remedies will only work temporarily. You’ll need to keep using them until you can get the mold professionally remediated.
Have you ever encountered mold while on vacation? Has mold ever made you sick? Follow me at @GustavoFerrerMD and tweet me your thoughts.