Mold is a type of fungus that grows in moist, damp environments. As such, mold is commonly found both inside and outside homes.
While most types of mold are harmless, there are many that are found indoors that can be dangerous to your health. The most dangerous that are common in our homes are aspergillus, cladosporium, penicillium, alternaria, and stachybotrys (AKA black mold).
It is present in the air and on many surfaces. We breathe in mold spores regularly without any effect. Some people are more sensitive to mold than others.
The health symptoms of toxic mold exposure can vary from person to person, making it even more challenging to identify and address. In this guide, I will list a total of 75 different health symptoms caused by mold that have been proven in various studies.
Remember, knowledge is power, and by equipping yourself with information about the health symptoms of toxic mold exposure, you can protect yourself and your loved ones. Stay vigilant, take action, and create a safe and healthy environment for everyone involved.
Mold exposure is considered an environmental illness and has been associated with a variety of health problems including respiratory issues, persistent headaches, fatigue, allergies, and skin rashes.
These symptoms can be particularly distressing for individuals with pre-existing respiratory conditions, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Individuals with weakened immune systems, such as those undergoing chemotherapy or living with HIV/AIDS, are particularly susceptible to developing fungal infections in their lungs. These infections, known as invasive pulmonary aspergillosis, can cause fever, cough, chest pain, and difficulty breathing.
Toxic mold exposure has also been linked to the development of hives, also known as urticaria. Hives are characterized by itchy, raised welts on the skin that can be quite uncomfortable. In some cases, these hives may be accompanied by swelling, leading to a condition called angioedema.
Moreover, toxic mold exposure has been linked to more severe health conditions, including chronic sinus infections, neurological disorders, damage to organs, cancer and even death. Neurological symptoms include headaches, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, and memory problems.
Some individuals may also experience mood swings, depression, anxiety, and fatigue, which can significantly impact their overall well-being and quality of life.
How does mold make you sick?
When people inhale mold spores or fragments, their immune system responds by releasing histamine and other chemicals that cause allergy-like effects.
Prolonged exposure to mold can cause severe and dangerous effects, often compounded by allergic reactions to mold spores. People who already suffer from asthma or other respiratory problems are especially at risk for its health effects.
The health effects can vary greatly, depending on the type of mold present, the degree of exposure, and the individual.
In some cases, people may not even be aware that they’re living or working in a moldy environment. This is because it usually grows in areas that are out of sight.
The most common places it grows are in damp environments like basements, behind walls, showers, and kitchens as a result of excess moisture that can enter buildings as a result of water leaks, floods, and high humidity.
This hidden danger can lead to ongoing health issues that are often misattributed to other causes, delaying proper diagnosis and treatment.
Other factors that will determine the severity and length of your symptoms:
* How long you were exposed.
* Where you were exposed (home, workplace, school).
* How high was the mold concentration in your environment.
* Your age, gender, and overall health status (pregnant women, infants, young children and older adults are more susceptible than healthy adults).
* If you were exposed to more than one type of mold at the same time.
Mold releases what are called mycotoxins, which may damage the lungs, brain, liver, kidneys, heart, blood, or nervous system, and induce cancer or other effects. Mold poisoning, also known as mold illness (toxicity) or clinically as mycotoxicoses, can result from exposure to these types of mold mycotoxins in the home or workplace.
Mycotoxicoses, like all toxicological syndromes, can be categorized as acute or chronic. Acute toxicity generally has a rapid onset and an obvious toxic response, while chronic toxicity is characterized by low-dose exposure over a long time period, resulting in cancers and other generally irreversible effects.
An estimated 10%-20% of the population have a genetic susceptibility to biotoxins, including mycotoxins produced by molds, according to a study published in the journal Toxins.
A 1999 study by the Mayo Clinic, published on ScienceDaily.com had found that fungus (mold) is likely the cause of nearly all chronic sinus infections. They had said that it was not an allergic reaction to mold, but an immune reaction.
If you suspect that mold is making you sick, here are 75 symptoms that you should watch out for:
1. Abdominal pain
2. Aches and pains
3. Aggression and other personality changes
7. Bleeding gums
8. Bleeding in the brain
9. Bleeding tendency
10. Blood not clotting properly
11. Blurry vision and vision worsening
12. Bone marrow disruption
13. Brain fog
14. Burning sensation in the mouth
15. Chest pain
16. Chronic fatigue
17. Cold or flu type symptoms or recurring colds
21. Crawling skin
22. Damage to heart
27. Difficulty breathing
28. Difficulty concentrating and paying attention
32. Eye damage
33. Eye inflammation and soreness
35. Hair loss
38. Hearing loss
39. Heart inflammation
40. Hemorrhage – internal bleeding
42. Impaired learning ability
43. Infections reoccurring
44. Irregular heartbeat
45. Itchy nose
46. Jaundice (yellowing of the eyes & skin)
47. Joint pain
48. Joint stiffness
49. Liver disease
50. Low blood pressure
52. Memory loss and memory problems
53. Muscle pain
55. Nose bleeds
57. Pulmonary edema
58. Pulmonary hemorrhage
59. Red or bloodshot eyes
60. Runny nose
62. Sexual dysfunction
65. Shortened attention span
66. Slowed reflexes
67. Sore throat
68. Stuffy, blocked nose
72. Vomiting up blood
74. Weight loss, anorexia
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) had published a report titled, “Mold Prevention Strategies and Possible Health Effects in the Aftermath of Hurricanes and Major Floods,” showing that various diseases, infections and illnesses such as asthma, an immune-mediated disease known as hypersensitivity pneumonia, and longterm ingestion of aflatoxins (produced by Aspergillus species) which has been associated with hepatocellular cancer.
The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends that when pediatricians are treating patients with idiopathic pulmonary hemorrhage, prudence dictates that pediatricians try to ensure that infants under 1 year of age are not exposed to chronically moldy, water-damaged environments.
The academy says, “Pediatricians should ask about mold and water damage in the home when they treat infants with idiopathic pulmonary hemorrhage. If mold is in the home, pediatricians should encourage parents to try to find and eliminate sources of moisture.”
They also recommend, “if infants who die suddenly of idiopathic pulmonary hemorrhage, coroners, and medical examiners should consider using the recently published Guidelines for Death Scene Investigation of Sudden, Unexplained Infant Deaths, which includes a question about dampness, visible standing water, or mold growth.”
Why Myctoxins are Dangerous to Humans and Animals
Molds like Stachybotrys produce various mycotoxins such as Trichothecene which can be very deadly. Another class of mycotoxins are known as Aflatoxin B1, B2, G1, G2, M1 and M2, which are produced by Aspergillus (Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus) which can be found both indoors and outdoors. Aflatoxins are one of the most carcinogenic substances known to human kind.
No animal species is immune to the toxic effects of these aflatoxins.
Aflatoxins are poisonous and cancer-causing chemicals. They can be inhaled, ingested, but the most toxic type of aflatoxin, B1, can permeate through the skin. Children are particularly at risk from aflatoxin exposure, which leads to stunted growth, delayed development, liver damage, and liver cancer. Adults have a higher tolerance to exposure, but are also at risk.
Aspergillus causes a group of diseases called Aspergillosis.
The most common Aspergillosis subtype among paranasal sinus infections associated with aspergillosis is A. fumigatus. The symptoms include fever, cough, chest pain, or breathlessness, which also occur in many other illnesses, so a diagnosis can be difficult.
Seeking professional help: Diagnosis and treatment options for mold-related health issues
When it comes to mold-related health issues, seeking professional help is crucial for accurate diagnosis and effective treatment.
While some symptoms of mold exposure may seem similar to those of common allergies or respiratory infections, it is essential to consult with healthcare professionals who specialize in environmental medicine or mold-related illnesses.
Diagnosis often begins with a thorough evaluation of the patient’s medical history, followed by physical examinations and specific tests. These tests may include blood tests, skin tests, or even nasal swabs to determine the presence of mold spores or mold-related antibodies in the body.
Additionally, imaging studies such as chest X-rays or CT scans may be conducted to assess any damage or inflammation in the respiratory system.
Once a diagnosis is established, healthcare professionals can then recommend appropriate treatment options. These options may vary depending on the severity of symptoms and the individual’s overall health.
Treatment generally involves a combination of strategies, including medication to alleviate symptoms such as allergies or respiratory issues, as well as addressing the underlying cause of mold exposure.
In some cases, it may be necessary to remove the individual from the mold-contaminated environment to prevent further exposure and aid in recovery. This could involve relocating temporarily or taking steps to remediate the mold problem in the home or workplace.
It is important to note that mold-related health issues can be complex, and the expertise of healthcare professionals is invaluable in navigating the diagnosis and treatment process.
Therefore, if you suspect mold exposure is affecting your health, it is crucial to seek professional help promptly to ensure proper care and improve your overall well-being.
It is important to note that some individuals may be more susceptible to mold allergies than others. People with compromised immune systems, pre-existing respiratory conditions such as asthma or chronic bronchitis, or a history of allergies are more likely to experience severe allergic reactions to mold exposure.
If you suspect that mold may be the culprit behind your allergies, it is crucial to address the issue promptly. Hiring a professional mold inspector to conduct a thorough assessment of your property is recommended.
They can identify the source of the mold and provide guidance on the proper remediation steps to take.
Moe is the Founder and CEO of Mold Safe Solutions in Southern California. He is a certified mold inspector, mold remediator and author.