WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - It destroyed homes and flooded entire communities, but Hurricane Florence also left many people feeling the physical effects.
Mold is a widespread problem in almost every home or business that suffered water damage. Breathing mold spores can lead to a variety of health problems.
“If you’ve experienced water damage, and you’ve not been able to dry out your home within a 24-hour period, and that includes furniture and other items, you should assume that you have mold,” said Tony Bollhorst, a respiratory care therapist at New Hanover Regional Medical Center.
Mold exposure can lead to significant health issues for people with certain conditions, but can affect anyone.
“Anybody can get sick from mold spores," Bollhorst said. "People with allergies, asthmatics, chronic lung disease patients are more likely to get a severe reaction. We’ve had several people already come into the emergency department that required hospitalization, so it is very serious.”
Mold can trigger asthma attacks, exacerbate COPD, cause allergy flare ups and even lung infections, said Bollhorst. Throat irritation, nasal congestion, sinus drainage, coughing, wheezing and sneezing could all be signs of exposure to mold.
In some cases, he suggests trying over the counter medications like Flonase and antihistamines like Claritin. If those are not effective, he suggests talking with your doctor about other medications prior to going to the hospital, but said in some cases a hospital visit may be necessary.
Respirators, dehumidifiers, air conditioners, and clean conditions can help reduce effects of mold.
Bollhorst recommends looking at EPA guidelines to make sure your home is safe.