What’s black, furry, and sneaks up on you? It might sound like the monsters under your kid’s bed, but it’s actually mold, fungi that can get you really sick. Preventing the problem before it starts is the best approach.
Yet, mold can grow and thrive without warning. If it gets out of the control, your health may start to suffer. Here is what you need to know about mold illness.
What Is Mold?
Mold is an umbrella term for fungi that spread by making spores. They grow in warm, damp places like the bathroom and kitchen and can also be found outdoors.
There are over 1.5 million species of mold!1 Indoors, the most common ones are Cladosporium, Penicillium, Alternaria, and Aspergillus.2 Mildew and mold are often used interchangeably, but they are actually different. Mildew is powdery and light-colored, while mold is fuzzy and colorful.3
When spores travel through the air, we breathe them in. Some people are sensitive or allergic, but it can snowball into something much worse: mold illness.
What Is Mold Illness?
Mold illness is part of sick building syndrome (SBS), or a set of symptoms caused by toxins in a building. In this case, mold is a biological contaminant, along with pollen, bacteria, viruses, and insects.
Since tests and exams do not point to a specific illness, SBS is hard to diagnose.4 Paying attention to the following symptoms – and when they crop up – is key.
8 Signs And Symptoms Of Mold Illness
Headaches are a common sign of mold illness. The pain can be so bad that it gets hard to focus!5 If you are constantly reaching for ibuprofen or peppermint oil, pay attention.
Feeling woozy every time you are at home or work? It might be mold illness at play. Sometimes, nausea even shows up with dizziness.6
3. Dry Cough
Respiratory issues are a big sign of mold toxicity. The spores can irritate the nose and throat, making it hard to breathe. Your voice might become hoarse or scratchy.7
4. Frequent Asthma Attacks
If you have asthma, beware. Mold is a major trigger that can bring on an attack. Shockingly, about 50 percent of residential and work buildings have water damage, increasing the risk of mold. About 2/3 of adult-onset asthma is actually caused by water-damaged buildings, proving just how detrimental mold can be.8
5. Muscle Aches
Mold illness can also cause fatigue, soreness, and achy muscles. It might be enough to wonder if you didn’t get enough sleep! This can lead to lower concentration and attention.9
6. Dry Or Itching Skin
Molds produce irritants that can cause skin rashes. It might feel itchy, dry, or warm. This is even more likely for workers who touch or handle parts of the building.10
7. Red Eyes
Eye irritation is another sign of mold illness, especially if you are allergic. It is easy to think seasonal allergies are acting up. If the reaction is delayed, mold might not even cross your mind.11
Sneezing is another symptom that might seem like a cold or seasonal allergy. And if you have a runny nose?12 Post-nasal and phlegm can develop.
How Do You Know If You’re At Risk?
An allergist can do a skin or blood test to find out exactly what you are allergic to. Double check that mold is specifically included. Afterward, make sure the doctor thoroughly explains the results.
Living in a humid climate heightens the chances. Rainy areas, like the Pacific Northwest, are also susceptible.
Poor ventilation is a great setup for mold growth. Open the windows, turn on the fan, and get the air flowing. After taking a shower, turn on the fan or open the windows. Clean regularly to minimize mold growth and air out damp towels or clothes.
If your home is prone to flooding, be prepared. Learn the best ways to control or clean up moisture. Get a professional, if needed.
|↑1, ↑3||Mold. National Toxicology Program.|
|↑2||Mold in the Environment. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|
|↑4, ↑5, ↑6, ↑7, ↑9, ↑10, ↑12||Joshi, Sumedha M. “The sick building syndrome.” Indian journal of occupational and environmental medicine 12, no. 2 (2008): 61.|
|↑8||Pizzorno, Joseph, and Ann Shippy. “Is Mold Toxicity Really a Problem for Our Patients? Part 2-Nonrespiratory Conditions.” (2016): 8-14.|
|↑11||Mold and Health. United States Environmental Protection Agency.|