Mold and related health symptoms
Although most forms of indoor mold is kind of harmless in small quantities, they can cause serious health problems if allowed to spread beyond limit. If you have or had mold in your house and are suffering health problems then you may want to investigate further to check if it has been caused by the mold.
The major health symptoms that mold cause include the following –
- Allergic and irritant symptoms
- Toxic symptoms
Allergic Symptoms from Mold Exposure
The most prominent symptoms caused by mold are those affecting the respiratory symptom or breathing. When you breathe in air that is contaminated with mold spores, the immune system responds to it by creating allergic reactions. These reactions are the immune system’s defense against foreign particles that enter the body through the respiratory system.
If the person is sensitive to such allergies, the reaction could be more than just mild allergies. Prolonged exposure to mold spore contaminated air can also increase the allergy levels. This can cause the reactions to reach a severe level requiring medical attention.
Some of the symptoms that are caused by mold allergy include the following –
- Cold or flu like symptoms
- Blocked nose
- Itchy nose
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Irritated, itchy throat
- Sinus congestion
- Sinus headaches
- Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath
- Skin irritation or rashes or hives
- Watery eyes
- Red, bloodshot eyes
- Itchy eyes
- Itchy ears
- Hair loss, baldness
- Hay fever symptoms
Check the wikipedia page on mold health issues to learn more –
Toxic mold and related health symptoms
There are about 16 mold species that are toxic to humans and animals. The release toxic chemicals call mycotoxins in the air which if inhaled can cause serious health problems. Stachybotrys chartarum is one such black mold that releases toxic chemicals in air.
The health symptoms caused by such toxic molds can be much more severe than minor allergic reactions. Some of these symptoms include bleeding, damage to respiratory organs and system, and in extereme cases even cancer. They can also affect the mental health of a person.
However, such cases are rare given the fact the most individuals are conscious enough to detect theme and take action on time.
Infections caused by Mold
Sometimes mold spores that enter a person’s respiratory system through breathing, might begin to grow or cause infections to the sinus, skin or digestive system.
Mold infections usually don’t occur in young healthy people with a strong immunity system. Elderly people or those having weak immune systems are more prone to such infections. Species of mold that cause infections include Trichoderma, Penicillium marneffei and Aspergillus fumigatus.
Medical examination of mold symptoms
Physical Examination for Mold Symptoms
There are a number of tests available to determine if a patient is suffering mold allergies. Such tests can be performed by yourself or a medical professional.
Doctor’s would conduct a simple physical examination to identify the mold allergies. They will study and discuss the visible physical symptoms and be able to tell if the reactions are caused due to a mold allergy.
Skin tests for mold symptoms
In case of skin complications, there are specific skin tests to tell if its a mold allergy. The test involves applying purified mold allergens to the surface of the skind and observe the reactions. Then the doctor will diagnose if the symptoms have been caused due to mold allergy or not.
Skin tests are believed to be more reliable than blood tests though neither may be very accurate to detect all types of mold allergies.
Blood Tests for Mold Symptoms
Apart from physical examination and skin tests, the other most effective way to diagnose mold allergies is through blood tests. Sample of blood is taken from the patient’s body which is then analyzed.
One such blood test is the MELISA – Memory Lymphocyte Immunostimulation Assay test. The MELISA test can detect allergies to chemicals, toxins, and mold, including toxic molds like Aspergillus and Penicillium.
The MELISA test does not measure the amount of mold’s toxin or allergens present in the patient’s body. It can only tell if the patient is allergic to mold or not.
Besides MELISA, other blood tests that can detect allergies include ELISA (Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay) and the RAST (radioallergosorbent) test.
Treatment for Mold Symptoms
Avoid and get rid of Mold
The best way to eliminate mold related health issues is to completely avoid exposure to mold and mold spores to the best possible extent. At home, you should do a careful inspection and cleanup of all mold affected areas to remove the mold completely.
Mold commonly appears in the wet areas of the house like bathroom, kitchen, and walls that have moisture or damp problems. Clean mold using proper chemical agents and also use vacuum to fully dry the affected place.
If necessary, repeat the cleaning process regularly to ensure that the mold does not come back. Call a professional for proper removal and mold treatment. It will cost money but save on medical expenses in the long run.
Avoid mold on food items
Besides walls and furniture, another place where mold grows is rotten and decaying food items. Though the mold species that grows on food items is different from the one that grows on walls.
Food items catch mold quickly during humid climates like rainy season. Certain food items like bread, cheese catch mold even faster than others. It is very important to take care of your kitchen and the food during the humid and rainy seasons.
Avoid eating anything that is too old or shows the slightest sign of rotting. Rotting food generally smells bad. Do not keep food in open for too long. Keeping food inside the refrigerator can keep them free from mold and germs for a longer time.
If you have been affected by mold and symptoms are becoming prominent, you might consider taking medications to keep things under control. There are several prescribed drugs and pills for controlling allergies. However you should always consult a doctor first and take medicines only as recommended by the doctor.
However, keep in mind that most medicines and drugs will only counter the allergy symptoms and not the root cause of the problem. Ideally you should work towards improving your immunity as well as the hygiene of the environment.
By now you should have a good idea of what health risks are caused by mold and how you can deal with them to save yourself from any complications.
The best treatment of mold is to clean and remove it. Atleast inside your house, you should take utmost care to make sure that no mold infestation occurs anywhere and treat them at the first sign.
In some places, mold might occur more than usual due to climatic conditions or construction problems. Then you should definitely call a professional to get a proper mold treatment for your house.
If you have any other questions, let us know in the comment box below.