Mold generates irritating chemicals that trigger allergic reactions in sensitive people. Some types can produce mycotoxins, which are toxic substances. And, mildew exposure is also eligible for allergic reactions and several other health risks.
Living around these organisms in your house can pose profound health effects to your family. After all, most people spend at least 12 hours a day at home. So, understanding these organisms will help to keep everyone in your family safe.
What are some of the health risks, you ask? Here’s everything you need to know about mold and mildew growth and their health impacts!
Health Risks of Mold and Mildew Exposure
Mold and mildew grow on dump places and reproduce. After that, they’ll start spreading their severe health impacts. Even so, damp environments may either cause health problems or none at all. That’s because some people are vulnerable to mildews, while others are not.
Either way, it’s important to identify and get rid of mold and mildew as soon as it starts to develop. It can be very toxic and even cause long-lasting impacts on human health. But this will depend on the species and level of exposure. Also, people with pre-existing conditions are particularly susceptible to mycotoxin. The same case applies to pregnant women, children, and seniors.
Here are some of the notable health side effects of mold and mildew exposure!
1. Allergies and Irritation
Spores generate allergens. As the name implies, these are substances that trigger allergic reactions. That way it results in various fever-like symptoms. People with allergies are more sensitive than others. Once they come into contact with mycotoxins, they might experience certain symptoms. They include; dry cough, watery/ red eyes, blocked nose, wheezing, sinusitis, and rashes. If they’ve severe allergies, they may experience symptoms like shortness of breath. However, some non-allergic people may also experience certain symptoms like skin, eyes or, nose irritation.
If you’re allergic to mycotoxins, the spores may trigger asthma. This irritating/ sensitizing fact causes the lungs to develop inflammation. In some people, the exposure may lead to a more severe asthma attack. Thus causing the following symptoms; chest tightness, wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath.
3. HP (Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis)
If you’ve got a healthy immune system, mycotoxin may not be a problem. Individuals with weakened immune systems are vulnerable to infections like HP. Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis refers to lung inflammation. It occurs when people with immune system sensitization inhale organic dust. Some people even mistake it for pneumonia. However, unlike pneumonia, you can’t treat it with antibiotics. Persistent lung inflammation may lead to permanent damage, and sometimes, even death!
4. Severe & Chronic Conditions
Black mold releases toxic substances that are very dangerous to human health. They can form on food items that’ll impact the body if you eat. This toxic substance gets into the intestinal lining, airways, and skin. Prolonged exposure might result in severe and sometimes deadly conditions. It causes symptoms like; pulmonary bleeding, and pulmonary fibrosis. It can also cause pregnancy conditions, digestive conditions, etc.
These reactions are the most common mold-related health effects. They can either happen instantly or develop after some time following exposure.
Mold Exposure Symptoms
Although mold growth starts as a tiny spot, it expands at a very rapid rate. Luckily, you’ll catch it early on if it’s not in a hidden location. It can be seen as white, black, green, brown, etc. However, if you’re not sure whether the spot is mildew or just dirt/ old stains, look for the following signs;
- A musty, earthy odor
- The spot must be in a dark place near a source of water/ moisture
- If left unattended, the spot continues to grow. (Old stains and dirt don’t grow!)
- Mold growth causes the material it’s growing on to peel, warp or crack.
- Bleach turns its color in less than 2 minutes
So, how do you know if mold is making you sick? What are the symptoms of mold sickness?
Well, regular mold exposure causes various allergy symptoms. They include; rash, runny nose, red/ watery eyes, and coughing. Other notable symptoms include; frequent sinusitis, shortness of breath, wheezing, and rash. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, there is a good chance you’re suffering from mold illness. In some instances, mildew exposure can lead to severe reactions. This will be indicated by symptoms like difficulty breathing and fever. If you’ve got compromised immune systems, its exposure may cause serious infections. Predicting the level of health risk severity associated with dampness is almost impossible. Allergic people have different levels of vulnerability. Moreover, health risks and symptoms depend on the exact type and extent of mildew in the house!
What is Toxic Mold Syndrome?
This is the illness resulting from allergic reactions triggered by mycotoxigenic exposure. The predominant symptoms include; watery eyes, skin irritation, coughing, and wheezing. Also, it can cause fatal infections in patients with compromised immune systems/ asthma. Toxic exposure is also linked to more critical, long term health effects. Some of these effects include; insomnia, depression, confusion, memory loss, and anxiety.
Neurological Symptoms of Mold Exposure
Apart from causing respiratory disorders, mildew exposure can affect your brain health as well. Studies show that there’re symptoms of cognitive impairments. And most of these brain health conditions are prevalent in society. Here are some neurologic signs and symptoms associated with human exposure to mycotoxins;
1. Depression & Anxiety
Chronic exposure to mycotoxins leads to stressful conditions like depression and anxiety. Thus, living in damp environments increases the rates of depressions.
2. Cognitive Impairment
They produce irritant spores which cause the body’s immune system to respond. Consequently, it causes inflammation throughout various body parts. Brain inflammation can lead to cognitive function impairment. Worst of all, chronic inflammation can cause long term cognitive impairment. Other effects include reduced intellectual capacity, attention, and memory capacity.
Over the years, mycotoxins have been linked to psychotic episodes. For instance, ergot alkaloids exposure is considered to have caused the hallucinatory disease. Also, consumption of mold-contaminated grains caused psychosis among early American settlers.
Mold and mildews are a natural part of life. However, if the buildup in your home is massive, it can have many health impacts. For people with chronic lung conditions, mildew exposure causes more severe complications. Thus, to keep your home healthier, you must treat and get rid of them. Luckily, there are many steps you can take to remove them yourself!
However, if you’re a sensitive person, look for a professional contractor.
1. How long does it take to recover from diseases of mold exposure?
Answer: The time taken to recover from mildew illness tends to vary for every person. It depends on factors like type, length of exposure, and the individual’s immune system. If you’ve got a healthy immune system, you can recover within a few days. But if you’ve got a contaminated immune system, you can take months or years to recover.
2. What happens if you breathe in a mold?
Answer: Breathing in the mycotoxins may cause various health impacts or none at all! If you’re allergic, you can experience symptoms like itchy skin, red eyes, wheezing, or a stuffy nose.
3. How much mold exposure is harmful?
Answer: It’s almost impossible to describe the level of exposure that is harmful. But, the sensitivity will depend on the nature and time of exposure.