Americans spend 90% of their time indoors, according to the EPA. But more than half of American homes have mold issues, and 28% of people have genes that make them particularly vulnerable to mold-related health problems, according to experts in MOLDY.
There are many triggers for a skin fungus. You can catch athlete's foot in the swimming pool or in another public place a fungal skin infection. But the mold in your home can really make you sick.
“By breathing in a lot of these mold spores you can develop a variety of health conditions for your lungs such as Hay fever, Sleep apnea, severe coughing, Asthma, and various pulmonary infections. The area where mold is found is very important for minimizing the risk of developing these health issues.”
Mold = Fungus
Mold is a type of fungus that can be found both inside and outside your home. It reproduces through the production of spores. When these spores come into contact with damp surfaces, they grow into mold and float through the air.
Every day, we inhale mold spores. These spores rarely cause health problems, but people with respiratory disease or weakened immune systems are more likely to develop breathing problems.
If the circumstances are correct, mold development can happen in any building, even warm, humid areas with moisture present. Water leaks, high humidity, flooding, and insufficient ventilation are common sources of moisture that can encourage the formation of mold in dwellings.
Even outside, we constantly breathe in mold spores. Sometimes, especially in people with respiratory conditions or weakened immune systems, these spores can cause allergic reactions or infections.
The majority of health issues are brought on by the fungus Aspergillus fumigatus. It flourishes in a variety of environments, including dead leaves and vegetation. Aspergillosis is an infection or an allergic reaction to this mold.
Other mold species may also get inside your lungs and harm your health. Non-Aspergillus infections are illnesses brought on by molds other than aspergillus.
About 10 to 25 percent of infections in patients with blood cancer or undergoing organ transplants are caused by non-Aspergillus molds.
“Exposure to a large number of mold spores may cause allergic symptoms such as watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing, itching, coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing, headache, and fatigue. Repeated exposure to mold can increase a person's sensitivity, causing more severe allergic reactions.”
Unfortunately, the way we built our houses makes it a perfect environment for mold
Mold can grow easily in common building materials such as wood and drywall when they are combined with water. According to experts, water damage affects at least 50% of homes. Even the smallest damage, such as a pinhole leak in a water line, a moisture vapor with a tear in it, a leaky shower, condensation under the eaves, or standing water in your crawl space, can cause toxic molds to grow quickly.
Your doctor might be unaware of the cause of your illness.
To correctly diagnose mold issues, doctors should ask some questions about the patients housing situation- unfortunately most of the time they don´t ask. Our lives quality is directly impacted by the air quality in our homes.
Aspergillus-related molds are responsible for the majority of health problems brought on by mold in the lungs. However, some other mold species have been linked to health problems in people.
“How long does it take for mold to make you sick? These symptoms usually first appear 2 to 9 hours after exposure and last for 1 to 3 days. Other affected persons have progressive shortness of breath and cough, as well as weight loss.”
Depending on the type of mold in your lungs and the reaction you have, your symptoms may change.
An allergic reaction known as allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis can be brought on by mold in your lungs (ABPA).
The following signs and symptoms are similar to those of asthma:
- fever and breathlessness (rare)
- symptoms of asthma getting worse
- skin irritation (rash, skin scaling)
- general malaise
- brain fog (difficulty focusing)
When an Aspergillus fungus develops in your lungs, you have invasive aspergillosis. It may result in symptoms like:
- chest pain
- shortness of breath
If the symptoms spread past your lungs, they could be life-threatening and cause you to cough up blood.
Infections caused by molds other than Aspergillus often have similar symptoms.
“It's also possible for mold to form a ball in your lungs. This condition is called aspergilloma when caused by an Aspergillus mold. The ball most often stays in your lungs but can lead to tissue damage. Symptoms commonly include shortness of breath, cough, or coughing up blood.”
If any of those symptoms sound familiar you should see a doctor
- Your medical history will be reviewed, and your doctor will inquire about your symptoms. If you already have a respiratory condition or a condition that impairs your immune system, they might suspect ABPA or a mold infection.
- Taking a small sample of your lung fluid for microscopic examination is frequently the next step in the diagnosis process. By inserting a special instrument into your mouth or nose to gather a small amount of lung tissue, they take the sample.
- In order to check for antibodies or fungal spores in your blood, your doctor may also perform a blood test.
- They may use an X-ray or CT scan to rule out other conditions and search for a mold buildup in your lungs.
- Since it's nearly impossible to completely avoid contact with fungal spores, medication is frequently used to treat mold in the lungs.
- Your airways are often helped to widen by corticosteroids, which facilitates coughing. They might need to be taken every day or just when your symptoms get worse.
- Itraconazole, an antifungal drug, might also be prescribed to you, though its efficacy is still up for debate.
In a 2014 study, researchers discovered that oral corticosteroids were prescribed for 97.1% of patients with ABPA. A prescription for oral corticosteroids along with inhaled corticosteroids and antifungal medications was written for about 41% of patients.
If mold gets to your heart or other organs, surgery might be necessary!
The following groups of people are most at risk of suffering health problems as a result of breathing in mold:
people who have respiratory conditions like cystic fibrosis or asthma. Also, those with immunosuppressive diseases like HIV/AIDS, diabetes, malnutrition, some genetic disorders, and cancer who are taking immunosuppressive medications after receiving an organ transplant.
“How do you know if mold is making you sick? If you have a mold allergy, your immune system overreacts when you breathe in mold spores. A mold allergy can cause coughing, itchy eyes and other symptoms that make you miserable. In some people, a mold allergy is linked to asthma and exposure causes restricted breathing and other airway symptoms.”
The health effects of exposure to mold can also change depending on the person, the volume of the exposure, and the kind of mold that is present. While some people may experience mild symptoms from allergies like sneezing, runny noses, or skin rashes, others may experience more severe symptoms like immune system or respiratory issues. It's important to note that not everyone who is exposed to mold will experience adverse health effects, but some people may be more susceptible than others, especially if they have respiratory conditions or compromised immune systems.
How to react if you discover mold in your house
Don’t let mold build up!
Using commercial products, soap and water, or 8 ounces of bleach diluted in a gallon of water, you can quite often remove mold on your own. To prevent inhaling or getting mold on your skin while cleaning mold, it's crucial to wear safety gear.
How to remove mold in your home:
- Open a window.
- Put on a mask, gloves, and eye and face protection.
- Never combine bleach with cleaners or ammonia, and its better not to mix chemicals in general.
Contact a specialist if:
- There is a lot of water damage, there is a lot of mold, or you can't get to it.
- you experience respiratory problems or have a mold allergy.
“Can you get sick from sleeping in a moldy room? In some cases, mold in your home can make you sick, especially if you have allergies or asthma. Whether or not you're allergic to molds, mold exposure can irritate your eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs.”
"Mark Hyman, Dr. Scott McMahon, Dr. Bill Rea – willing to tackle this threat head-on. The mission behind Moldy is to bring all of these world-class experts together to give you and your family their best advice – all in one place."
This article does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the internet. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.