What Is Mold Toxicity?
Mold toxicity and mildew are descriptive terms to refer to a collection of organisms called fungi. While they may have very important roles in nature, they can pose serious health risks to humans in terms of infections, allergies, and toxins. Dangerous species of mold or fungi tend to thrive in warm, damp locations inside homes or other buildings, on or in virtually any material and surface such as wood, carpets, and inside walls.
Mold Toxicity and Human Health
Contact with mold can enter and infect the skin, hair and nails, and cause infections in the lungs and elsewhere in the body. Fungal spores found outdoors, can cause seasonal allergies causing runny nose, congestion, sore throat, sneezing, coughing and red eyes. Mold growth found in homes and buildings can trigger conditions that can cause nasal and sinus issues, as well as breathing difficulties in asthma sufferers that include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and rapid breathing. Mold toxicity can also cause rather significant lung problems in the lower lungs causing severe allergic disease. Skin irritation with painful, and itchy rashes may also occur when exposed to mold spores.
Environmental exposures to mold can also affect the eyes, nose, and throat. Toxic substances produced by these fungi (e.g., black mold), can be inhaled, ingested (contaminated, moldy foods) or can come in direct contact with skin and can cause illness and potential death.
Prevention and Improving Health
Treatment for mold toxicity and mold-related illness begins with the evaluation of risk. You may ask yourself several questions to determine whether mold is the issue:
- Am I exposed to environmental dusts or aerosols at work or outdoors?
- Where and what are my symptoms?
- Do I notice that my symptoms become worse in the place where I work, live, or spend a lot of time, or during certain hobbies or activities I engage in?
- Are there moisture problems in my home or work?
- Are there visible signs or musky smells of mold?
- Do I have a humidifier?
Evaluating your risk factors at home, such as musky smells in a basement, living in a humid environment that fosters mold growth, or having an unclean humidifier, which can grow and disperse mold spores are all risk factors. Hiring professionals for mold removal, using a dehumidifier, regular disinfecting of your humidifier and air conditioning or HVAC system, repairing leaky roofs or walls, and demolishing wet carpets or damp walls can prevent or kill mold growth. Regular cleaning, getting rid of old, damp carpets, fixing leaky windows and facets, and using silicone sealant around windows, showers etc., helps prevent mold.
Treatment Options and Research
Treating these issues include:
- Removal of the source of mold.
- Allergen avoidance, if outdoor sources in dirt and decaying leaves is an issue.
- Asthma inhalers, decongestants, eye drops, steroid nasal drops, antihistamines, and corticosteroids for inflammation.
- Antifungal treatment for severe asthma.
- Immunotherapy is also a highly effective treatment of allergic conditions. It is much like a vaccine, where a preparation containing a portion of the substance your immune system has been sensitized to mount a response against, is administered via an injection. This helps to inform your body that the allergen is not foreign and not to attack it, therefore, lessening your symptoms.
Seeking Qualified Help
Proper diagnosis is essential. Anyone who suspects mold exposure should seek guidance from a licensed medical practitioner or specialist such as an allergist, immunologist, or pulmonologist (lung doctor). These professionals will ask questions to assess exposure, conduct physical exams, order various laboratory tests such as allergy skin tests, blood work and collection of respiratory fluids for laboratory diagnosis of your condition and provide effective treatments and solutions. Having a discussion with your family doctor may help you get a referral to an allergist for example or you could check out this resource here and here for specialists in the USA and Canada.