Mould can have health impacts ranging from minor allergy-like symptoms like a stuffy nose, itchy, red eyes, wheezing, or itchy skin, to more severe issues like asthma, upper respiratory infections, and hypersensitivity pneumonitis. Everyone is affected in different ways. Since symptoms can vary widely, it can be difficult to get an accurate diagnosis from mould exposure.
It’s important to know the symptoms and understand when you should seek medical treatment. Keep reading to learn more about what causes mould and the different symptoms associated with mould exposure.
What Is Mould?
Mould is a fungus that grows in moist environments. Mould spores travel through the air until they find an ideal place to do what they do best – proliferate. An area with high humidity and poor ventilation is the perfect spot for mould to multiply quickly.
The mould that has detrimental health impacts tends to be found indoors. In your home, mould could be visible on the walls or ceiling, or it could be hiding behind drywall, underneath the carpet, in your attic, basement, or crawlspace.
Hidden mould is hard to discover. Signs of mould growth include a foul smell, condensation, past flooding, or slow leaks (such as behind an appliance like a refrigerator, washing machine, or dishwasher).
To prevent mould in your home, focus on the following:
- Control humidity levels
- Ventilate bathrooms with showers and laundry rooms
- Fix leaky roofs, windows, and pipes
- Clean and dry after any flooding or water damage
Ensuring that you stay on top of any excess moisture in your home is the best way to prevent mould exposure.
How Does Mould Cause Sickness?
When you inhale toxic mould spores, they add to the toxicity in your body – called Total Body Burden. If the amount of toxins is low, most bodies will naturally flush them out. However, if the load is too much for the body to eliminate, you will experience symptoms – ranging from minor to severe.
Allergy-type symptoms are the most common reactions to mould exposure. The most common symptoms of people with mould allergies include:
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Red and itchy eyes
- Dry cough
- Sore throat
If you have severe allergies, you could experience more serious symptoms, like shortness of breath or lung problems. Kids who are exposed to mould as young children are more likely to develop asthma as well.
Mould spores can take root and grow in areas like the lungs or sinuses, resulting in serious respiratory illnesses and infections. Someone with a compromised immune system, such as someone with HIV/AIDS, those with cancer who are receiving chemotherapy, those with autoimmune disorders (like lupus), or those who have received organ transplants could experience fungal infections after being exposed to mould.
Otherwise healthy people are more likely to be immune to infection as a result of mould exposure.
You should also be aware of something called “sick building syndrome,” which is when occupants of buildings (such as offices or apartment buildings) experience health effects such as headaches, skin, eye, throat irritation, and fatigue that seem to be linked to the indoor air quality of the building.
When you inhale mould spores they produce toxic substances called mycotoxins. Some people can have an immune response called mycotoxicosis. Mycotoxicosis targets the organs and the outcome depends on the amount of spores inhaled, length of exposure and the existing health conditions of the person impacted.
There is the possibility that mould could cause health conditions such as fatigue, lung disease, or even cancer.
A rare disease that can be associated with mould exposure is hypersensitivity pneumonitis, which is a lung disease that causes inflammation of the alveoli in your lungs.
Don’t Ignore These Symptoms of Mould Exposure
Mould exposure and resulting symptoms can vary from person to person. The symptoms can also be related to the type of mould, how long the exposure was for and how the body handles eliminating toxins. Because of the many ways mould exposure can manifest itself, it can be difficult for a doctor to diagnose.
The symptoms of mould exposure should not be ignored. Mould can cause health issues for otherwise healthy individuals and can exacerbate existing health issues. If you suspect that you have been exposed to mould and are suffering as a result, don’t hesitate to seek medical treatment.
Mould Removal and Treatment
Once it has been determined that mould is a problem, it must be dealt with. Eliminating the source of moisture is the first step. Dealing with the mould itself should be left to a professional. Unless it is removed by a qualified and experienced professional, the mould will quickly return.
If you think that your home or workplace has mould issues, contact us for a free visual assessment. Our qualified team provides air quality testing, moisture detection, dry ice blasting, fogging and anti-microbial spraying services. We are a Certified Microbial Investigator (CMI) and Certified Microbial Remediator (CMR) through the American Council for Accredited Certification (ACAC).