Home heating and health don’t sound like two topics that would go together, but the reality is, the environment at home can be very much linked to the state of your health. The signs of a damp home might be obvious, but it always helps to know what to look out for in terms of health issues that could arise from it. Here are some common ways home heating could be linked to your health, and what you can do about it.
Coughs and colds
It’s that time of year when it seems like everyone has caught a cold or flu, and while you might catch a cold from anywhere, you need to pay particular attention to those niggling coughs that just won’t seem to go away. A persistent cough or chest infection is especially dangerous if you live in a damp house or sleep in a room prone to damp or mould as these conditions can worsen the health of the patient and it can take longer to recover from these ailments without changing the environment at home. Invest in a dehumidifier to keep excess moisture under control if you know this to be an issue at home, and make sure the rooms are heated properly and well ventilated to reduce mould appearing.
Asthma & breathing difficulties
People of all ages can be affected by asthma, which can manifest itself as a cough, wheezing or breathlessness and has common triggers, like allergies, smoke, exercise and chest infections. Ireland has the fourth highest prevalence of asthma in the world, so finding ways to prevent attacks and manage this condition at home is a very real concern. In a damp house where mould spores can grow, this can trigger an attack if the sufferer is allergic. Mould spores don’t just cause breathing difficulties however, as inhaling or touching them can also trigger sneezing, red eyes and skin rashes.
Dry skin & eczema
Dust mites can cause havoc for eczema sufferers and can really irritate the skin. The ideal temperature for dust mites to thrive is between 18-24oC, so ideally rooms should be kept at 18oC or below. Humidity is also a factor, and for dust mite prevention, try to keep your home at a humidity level of 70% or below. Humid air can increase the growth rate of both dust mites and mould spores, but if the dry air in the house is worsening skin conditions a quick trick is to place a bowl of water near a radiator to help ease the discomfort of dry skin.
Treating mould at home
If you do discover mould at home, or there are spots that are prone to it like the corner of a bedroom or in the bathroom here are a few tips for dealing with it effectively:
- As soon as you spot it, start to treat it as it will only continue to spread.
- Make a solution of 1 part bleach to 3 parts water, or buy a ready-made mould treatment spray.
- Spray on to the affected area and scrub until it is completely removed.
- Rinse thoroughly and dry.
- Try to identify the cause so that you can prevent a re-occurrence – in Irish homes the usual culprits are humidity and condensation which is a big area of concern now that the autumn/winter season has started in earnest. You’ll probably have noticed the condensation build-up on the windows in the morning when you wake up.
- Keeping your home the right temperature can also play a big part in creating an environment that is healthy. Make sure you have a steady supply of home heating oil so that you can maintain a consistent temperature at home