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Mold Exposure Symptoms and Treatments

Published on March 21, 2018

Knowing whether or not you are experiencing mold exposure symptoms can be a tricky question to answer, because mold exposure symptoms can present themselves differently depending on your age, health, and exposure. Mold is a natural fungus present around the world and a necessary part of the environment - but in your home, it can cause you and your family to feel sick, uncomfortable, and can often exacerbate diseases such as asthma. Removing mold can be effectively done so that you and your family are back to feeling their best.

What Is Mold?

Mold is a type of fungus that is extremely important in the natural world. We can find mold in our yard or the park, mold helps leaves, bugs, and other natural materials decompose, and this is the same thing it does when its present in our homes - only it’s decomposing our studs, furniture, or drywall!

Mold thrives in damp, warm, and humid environments, and needs a source of organic material to eat, which can include:

  • wood
  • textiles
  • dirt and dust
  • drywall and other construction materials
  • paper

Where Is Mold Found?

Mold can grow in any room of your home, but it favours particular environments.

Bathroom: Mold loves the bathroom - there’s plenty of water present and there are often areas, like under the sink, where it can grow undisturbed.

Attic: Our attics rarely see much traffic, making them the perfect home for mold growth. Insulation, stored objects, and plenty of wood make for a perfect feast, and the likelihood of increased humidity or an unnoticed water leak is high.

Basement: The basement is generally someplace that sees reduced air flow, dampness, and lots and lots of stored objects, making it the perfect place for mold growth. Wet weather or the spring thaw can also cause humidity to spike.

Mold Exposure Symptoms

When you have an allergy to mold, you’re experiencing your immune system’s response to the presence of mold spores in your indoor air quality. The best way to reduce your allergic response is to reduce your exposure by removing it. Common mold exposure symptoms are:

  • Dry skin
  • Cough
  • Sneezing
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Itchy eyes, nose, or throat
  • Watery eyes
  • Headache

Other Problems Caused by Mold

Mold can also cause susceptible people to suffer from skin infections, or to have trouble with their mucous membranes. Mold can have severe consequences for people suffering from lung diseases, with impaired immune systems, and who are taking immunosuppressant medications, but should not cause systemic infections in otherwise healthy people.

Diagnosing a Mold Allergy

Mold exposure symptoms can be so difficult to diagnose in part because they share symptoms with everyday viruses such as the common cold, seasonal allergies, or other skin, nose, eye, and throat problems. One of the most common ways that mold affects is us through a mold allergy. The allergy may be as simple as a persistent headache, but it may also be causing increased asthma attacks or respiratory ailments. Mold has been known to make people feel dizzy and suffer from other cognitive complaints, like forgetfulness and confusion.

The easiest way to determine if mold may be a cause of your symptoms is by noticing when they appear and disappear - if you only sneeze when you’re at home and your symptoms disappear when you leave for work, it is likely that something in your indoor environment is causing your symptoms. Always contact your doctor if you are experiencing abnormal health issues, since a mold allergy can develop into something more severe, such as difficulty breathing or abnormally high fever.

Mold Allergy and Asthma

One of the populations most affected by mold growth in the home is asthma suffers, who may experience attacks triggered when mold spores aggravate their airways.  Certain types of mold may be more triggering than others, and can cause severe attacks. Mold exposure symptoms in asthmatics includes:

  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness
  • Shortness of breath

What about Mold on Food?

There are thousands of different kinds of mold, and they each have individual preferences for certain materials and locations. Many different molds also target things we would also consider food, like bread, fruit, and cheese. Some of these molds are the reason that food tastes so good - brie or stilton cheeses rely on mold to help create their distinct flavours. In the case of cheese, these kinds of mold are safe to eat and do not pose any health risks, but there are other strains that may make you feel ill and aren’t safe.

Risk Factors in Your Home

If you’re concerned you’re experiencing mold exposure symptoms, there are a number of potential causes. One is excess water; if you’ve recently had a flood, burst pipe, or water leak, that moisture could be the cause of mold growth. High humidity and poor ventilation are two other home-based causes of mold growth, but symptoms can also appear due to a family history of allergies or working in an occupation that exposes you to mold growth, like farming or carpentry.

Solutions and Treatment

The only way to accurately determine if mold is growing in your home is by having a qualified mold professional assess your property and take samples - because mold may be different colours, textures, or shapes, and likes to hide behind walls, baseboards or under insulation, identifying and addressing on your own is impossible. If you are aware of mold growing in your home and you are experiencing severe mold exposure symptoms, go to your doctor immediately  and arrange for a professional mold removal. Doing it yourself may inadvertently spread mold throughout your home, and household cleaners are ineffectual and will not completely remove the root of the infection.

If you spot mold, removing it promptly will help to eliminate your mold exposure symptoms and make for a healthier, safer home; contact us today for more information on mold inspection and remediation.

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