Regardless of popular misconceptions, you should never handle anything that threatens your health with a grain of salt, especially mold exposure.
Molds will always be present in any home, and this is fine as long as they remain at the normal point of fungal ecology. However, when molds begin to grow in large amounts within your building, you stand the risk of facing potential health problems.
Studies have found that exposure to molds in large quantities can increase the risk of specific adverse health effects by 40 to 60 percent.
Contrary to popular opinion, molds are not only dangerous to children and people with underlying respiratory conditions. Molds can also pose a great deal of health risk to otherwise healthy people.
This article will discuss the 10 mold symptoms you should never ignore. If you’re concerned about being exposed to molds in your home, then these are signs you should look out for.
Before we dive into the top 10 mold symptoms, let us look at why being exposed to mold is dangerous.
Why mold exposure affects health?
Being exposed to moldy and damp environments can result in various health effects, especially in people who are sensitive to molds. Also, when healthy people are exposed to a moldy environment for an extended period, they may develop mold symptoms or allergies.
Molds are dangerous for the following reasons;
- Molds produce allergens, which are harmful substances that can result in allergic reactions. Even when molds are dead, they can still cause allergic reactions.
- Mold spores present in the air are irritants and can affect sensitive individuals negatively.
- Some molds are capable of releasing toxic by-products known as mycotoxins. Over 200 mycotoxins have been identified from molds, and some of these are known to affect health. One can get exposed to mycotoxins from molds by inhalation, ingestion, touching, or physical contact.
Mold exposure symptoms
Having highlighted why mold affects people’s health, here are the common mold symptoms that signal exposure to mold or a moldy environment.
Health issues related to mold can be categorized into four; the allergic illness or reactions, infections, irritant effects, and toxic effects. Some evidence suggests that the toxic effects of mold can occur from consuming food with mold toxins. However, it remains a widely misunderstood topic.
1. Allergic illness or reactions
Allergic reactions are some of the most common symptoms of mold exposure. They occur in people after exposure to mold spores, mold fragments, or mold itself.
This could be by touching, inhaling, or even ingesting mold or its spores. The onset of allergic reactions may begin after single or repeated exposure, depending on the level of sensitivity.
Sometimes, mold exposure can cause non-sensitive people to become sensitive, and repeated exposure can increase sensitivity to individuals.
Mold allergy symptoms in an average mold sensitive person include
- Runny or stuffy nose
- A sudden feeling of congestion
- Red, itchy or watery eyes
- Skin rash also referred to as dermatitis
Mold symptoms in individuals with severe allergies are similar to hay fever symptoms, including shortness of breath.
In occupational settings susceptible to molds such as farms and stores, workers are more likely to show severe allergic reactions to large amounts of molds.
2. Asthma Attacks
Besides allergic reactions, molds can also increase the risk of asthma attacks or aggravate attacks in people who already have asthma and mold allergy. People with asthma tend to have more intense reactions to mold.
Studies have revealed that early mold exposure can hasten asthma development in children, especially those already genetically susceptible to asthma development.
Generally, breathing in molds, mold spores, and mold fragments can irritate parts of the body, such as the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs. In some cases, mold exposure can also affect the skin causing unpleasant skin conditions like rashes. So you can have
- Nasal irritation
- Skin burning
4. Other health issues
Upper Respiratory Tract Symptoms
According to the Institute of Medicine, there is enough evidence connecting mold exposure to upper respiratory tract symptoms, wheezing, and coughing.
The study also revealed that long term mold exposure might increase hypersensitivity pneumonitis in people who are susceptible to such an immune-mediated condition. Hypersensitivity pneumonitis is a rare condition that is similar to bacterial pneumonia.
Breathing in mold can also result in several opportunistic infections in individuals with weakened immune systems.
What to do if you notice mold symptoms?
The rule is never to ignore the signs. A musty smell plus one or two mold symptoms most likely signifies mold problems in the home. Generally if the infected area is small, you can refer to one of the DIY mold removal methods to clean the mold. However, suppose you notice mold growth in your building is large, and experience any mold symptoms. In that case, you should consider hiring our mold remediation experts‘ services for a thorough inspection of your home.
At EcoFMR.com, we have helped individuals and corporate bodies deal with mold problems for over 30 years. We understand the dangers of mold and its related health risk all too well. Once we receive your call, we arrive immediately for a thorough inspection of your building to determine if there are molds and where.
After inspection, we also test the air for mold spores and make recommendations for remediation immediately. We follow the recommendations of the EPA and ACGIH in our mold remediation procedure.
Conclusion: While all of the symptoms mentioned may be caused by mold exposure, they may also be associated with other causes or exposure to other conditions different from the mold. As a result, it is essential to consult your health professional before concluding on the cause of your symptoms.
This article was originally published in Nov-2020 and was last updated in Feb-2021.