Symptoms of Mold Exposure, is Your Household Safe?

Whether you notice the slimy black spots on your shower curtain or the fuzzy white patches on your basement floor, household mold is definitely unsightly. Sometimes, it shows as the slick orange film forming on your kitchen drain.

In addition to being unsightly, household mold can cause a series of health problems [1]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mold. If you have allergies or asthma, mold can definitely make you sick.

The good news is that you can easily spot mold in your home, and symptoms of mold exposure are rather easy to spot.

No matter if you are allergic to mold or not, mold exposure causes problems, and can irritate your skin, eyes, throat, nose, and lungs.

What is mold and how it affects you?

Mold is a type of fungus. To be fair, it can be various types of fungi growing in filaments and reproduce by forming spores that can travel through the air.

Sometimes, the term mildew is used to refer to types of mold.  Mold can live both indoors and outdoors and thrives in damp, warm, and humid environments. That being said, mold can be found in any environment.

Typical moist areas prone to mold growth include shower stalls and basement. However, that doesn’t mean that any moist area in the household can stay safe of molds. The most common risk and health effect of mold exposure is an allergic reaction.

Most common types of household mold are found indoors, usually greenish-black mold and black mold.

Some of the common types of mold, like Stachybotrys, grow on household surfaces that have high cellulose content. For example, that includes wood, fiberboard, paper, dust, and lint.

Mold spores are hardy and can survive under most conditions, like dry and harsh environment. The spores travel through outdoor and indoor air. And when spores in the air land on a surface with moisture, they can start to grow again.

Mold spores from outdoor air enter your home through open windows, vents, and open doors. They can also get attached to clothing, shoes, and pets.

The most common colors of mold include green, black, and brown. But mold can have other different colors as well. You will also notice a musty odor.

In some cases, mold growth can be hidden underneath carpeting, on the back side of a wallpaper, and behind drywall.

What are the signs and symptoms of mold allergy?

Mold produces irritating substances that can act as allergy-causing substances or allergens in sensitive individuals [2]https://www.cdc.gov/mold/faqs.htm. Some molds even produce toxic substances.

However, the mold itself is not poisonous or toxic. You’ve probably heard the term “toxic mold”, but that refers to the fact that certain types of mold can produce toxic substances.

At present, scientists and people in the industry have a hard time understanding the conditions under molds produce toxins.

As mentioned previously, the most common health effects of mold are allergic reactions.

In some cases, reactions happen immediately after mold develops. In others, it takes a period of time, long after the initial and prolonged exposure to develop allergic reaction and symptoms. Both growing mold and mold spores can cause a reaction.

Here are the symptoms commonly associated with mold allergy:

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Runny nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Redness of eyes
  • Skin irritation
  • Rash on your body
  • Itchy eyes

People who have asthma, or are allergic to mold, can and will experience asthma attacks. Mold can cause irritation to the skin, eyes, nose, lungs, and throat even in people who are not allergic to mold or to other allergens.

In some cases, people develop severe reactions, and symptoms include fever and difficulty breathing. If you are suffering from chronic lung disease or have low immune system, you may experience infection to the lungs.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is hard to fully acknowledge the degree of sensitivity to mold [3]https://www.cdc.gov/mold/default.htm.

However, they also report that some patients have experienced rare health conditions like memory loss and pulmonary hemorrhage.

Treatment for mold exposure

Similar to any allergic reactions, if you want to treat the symptoms of mold reactions, you need to look for drugs and remedies that lower allergy symptoms. Antihistamines are popular over the counter remedy for allergic reactions.

Treatment for asthma is something else, as you have to treat your asthma, not the exposure to mold. Fungal infections due to mold exposure are usually treated in the hospital with antifungal drugs.

Prevent mold in the household

The best treatment for mold exposure is to prevent moisture in your household. This way, you can be sure there will be no symptoms of mold exposure, and no health risks. How can you make your home mold-proof?

While it is nearly impossible to eliminate all mold spores, you can create an environment where mold cannot grow. It is all about controlling moisture [4]https://www.cdc.gov/mold/dampness_facts.htm.

  • Eliminate water problems such as leaks in plumbing and other structures leading to moisture buildup
  • Clean and dry your areas of leakage and water damage within 24 hours
  • Use an air conditioner or air dehumidifier during humid seasons to reduce the potential for moisture buildup
  • Avoid using carpets in humid basements and bathrooms
  • Maintain good ventilation in your home
  • Improve indoor quality of air, but avoid using fans that only spread the air
  • Add mold inhibitor products to household paints
  • Try to limit indoor humidity between 30% and 50%
  • Use bathroom fans
  • Open the bathroom windows when showering for air circulation
  • Vent appliances like clothes dryers and stoves when possible. Also do this with other appliances that produce moisture
  • Add insulation to reduce the potential for condensation on cold surfaces
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