Accumulated clutter can block airflow, which results in low oxygen levels and toxic amounts of carbon dioxide that may not be noticed by a hoarder until it is too late.
Dust, odors, and ammonia from decaying waste products can cause respiratory problems such as chronic coughing, shortness of breath, inflammation of the lungs, etc.
Rotting material, animal waste, and extreme messes are a haven for pests such as rats, mice, cockroaches, ants, flies, mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, bed bugs, and other vermin. They can easily hide and breed within a hoarded home, contaminating food and furniture.
They bring in dirt and spread multiple pathogens through their feces, urine, and saliva.
Infected rat droppings are a source of the airborne, potentially fatal Hantavirus, a respiratory disease with a nearly 40% mortality rate. Mosquitoes can spread the West Nile virus while ticks can carry Lyme disease.
Pests carry harmful bacteria that easily cause infections like MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus), Salmonella, and E. Coli.
Unsanitary conditions can worsen asthma symptoms and allergies through various airborne contaminants, mold growth, decomposing substances, and toxic waste from humans, pets, and pests alike.
The presence of bio-hazards in the home can significantly harm anyone who suffers from pre-existing health conditions or immunodeficiencies, often exacerbating such illnesses.
A combination of stale air, high humidity, minimal airflow, paired with large amounts of decay, spoiled food, and dirty dishes can prove the perfect breeding ground for mold, mildew, and fungus.
Mold and fungus can contaminate food, infect the body, and permanently damage furniture and other belongings.
Mold growth and water damage from faulty plumbing can compromise the home's structural integrity, aggravate existing health conditions, damage the respiratory system, and trigger allergies.
The majority of items in excess within a hoarded home are flammable materials - paper, food, clothing, wood, etc. - and with such combustible things scattered around, fire can spread quickly and consume a home in seconds.
On top of this, it is more difficult for firefighters and rescue workers to navigate in such crowded conditions, where exits and pathways are often blocked, even becoming trapped themselves.
Flammable items near or covering heaters, stoves, vents, incandescent bulbs, faulty appliances, and exposed electrical wiring dramatically increase the chance of a fire starting.
Heavier items can fall, trapping or crushing those living inside,
which is especially dangerous for the weak and elderly.
Towering piles can disintegrate and lose stability over time, until eventually collapsing onto people and pets.
Tripping hazards are common in spaces overwhelmed by neglected collections of accumulated stuff, which, when paired with the risk of falling clutter, becomes twice as dangerous. Numerous injuries, from flesh wounds to broken bones, are easily sustained this way.
Excessive clutter can hinder a hoarder's motivation to keep their home in good repair, making the property inaccessible to repair technicians and gradually accrue a considerable amount of damage.
As a hoard grows, the increasing weight and uneven distribution of stuff can destroy a home and prove fatal when walls, floors, and support beams weaken and collapse under the strain.
Rodents make holes in walls, destroy insulation, chew on electrical wiring, stain surfaces, and damage the framework of the home.
Hoarded environments amplify stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms. Exposure to germs, filth, and disorder to such an intense degree is overwhelming both physically and emotionally.
This condition often isolates hoarders as leaving one's belongings becomes too stressful for them, while shame and fear is felt at the prospect of inviting others to their home.
It's a highly stigmatized and misunderstood disorder which can cause a profound loneliness.
Proper psychiatric treatment is integral to the healing process when the clutter seen on the outside takes root in the soil of a troubled mind on the inside.
Hoarders tend to struggle financially because of difficulty finding employment and over-spending on new additions to their collections.
Extreme clutter causing fire hazards, pest infestations, and structural damage can violate local safety codes and lead to costly legal disputes with landlords, neighbors, law enforcement, social services, etc., possibly resulting in eviction.
The stress of this financial debt refuels the desire for comfort through hoarding more, intensifying the problem.