DEAR ASK THE DOCTOR: There has been a lot of mould dispersal in our area, with several schools needing renovation to correct and remove the contamination.
Our home has had extensive water damage in the past and still has problems during heavy rains and with snow melting from roof in the spring. Water leaks between the storm and interior windows. At these times it seems to me that the air in the home seems stuffy and the need for fresh air is greater.
I have a 12-year-old son who suffers from activity-induced asthma. I am concerned about possible physical effects and if there are any possible mental effects, such as loss of concentration and/or memory capabilities.
When asking my doctor about this, I do not get any information. Can you tell me where I can get information on this subject?
DEAR LESLIE: I'm sorry to hear about the state of your home and the troubles you are having with dampness and moulds, and also your concerns about your son's health.
The first thing I would ask is whether this is your own home, or rented. If it is rented, then you should get some advice as to how you can enforce your landlord to effect improvements. If it is your own home it may be a question of money, but perhaps some financial advice about raising money for improvements might be worth considering.
To address the medical side of this problem, you say that your son has exercise induced asthma. I hope this is being adequately treated with bronchodilators, particularly before activity.
It is quite possible that if there are a lot of mould spores in the air of your home, that this will aggravate your son's asthma. It is possible to develop an allergic reaction in the lungs to certain moulds.
As far as your son's physical health is concerned, I think that if his asthma is properly treated and that his lung function is kept under review to ensure his treatment is being effective, then I would not have too many fears about his physical health. As he gets into his teenage years it is quite possible that his asthma will improve or even disappear.
Regarding his mental health, I am not aware of exposure to moulds having any mental effects or causing loss of concentration. If his asthma is poorly controlled, then this can cause a youngster to become depressed, he may sleep badly and hence feel tired and find it difficult to concentrate the next day.
So having the best management possible of his asthma is the most important factor, but I would urge you to try and get some essential maintenance done to your home.