In this article:
Mold toxicity is an old concept that has been around in the medical world for a long time, but it is still not very well recognized. (1) In this article, we will discuss in detail what mold toxicity is, what its symptoms are, how it is diagnosed, and how to prevent it.
What Are Molds and the Types of Mold?
Mold is a type of fungus that grows on dead and decaying matter, which is helpful for the environment. However, inside the house, it can cause a lot of health issues.
Not only one type of mold can grow at your place. Usually, multiple types of mold can grow together, and you won’t be able to tell the difference without proper lab testing and analysis.
The three most commonly found household molds are: (1)
- Penicillium. It is a greenish-blue mold that is commonly found in places that may have water damage.
- Cladosporium. It is a greenish-black mold that is commonly found on fabrics and inside the household duct system.
- Aspergillus. It is a greenish-white mold that is capable of growing on dry surfaces and doesn’t require much ventilation to thrive.
How Do Molds Cause Toxicity?
Molds emit toxins that occur naturally in them. These are known as mycotoxins, where the word “myco” refers to fungus. So, when exposed to mold, a person may suffer from an infection or immunological response that can lead to mold toxicity. (1)(2)
Warning Signs of Mold Toxicity
The signs may be unique to every individual, but you should look out for:
Mold toxicity often causes pneumonia, which results in decreased oxygen supply to the body. This leads to consistent weakness and fatigue. (3)
2. Mental issues
Prolonged exposure to mycotoxins can also start affecting your nervous system. This means a negative impact on your immunity, memory, libido, decision-making abilities, and social life. It can cause delirium, dementia, and balance and movement incoordination. (4)(5)
3. Gastric issues
The mycotoxins released by molds on inhalation lead to a troubled digestive system, which may cause symptoms such as: (6)
- Abdominal cramps
- Intestinal bleeding
The same may also occur if you consume spoiled or expired food items.
4. Sleep disruption
Mold toxicity may also cause insomnia that is accompanied by a loss of appetite and heart issues. (7)
5. Joint pain
Mold exposure for a long duration may cause an infection that starts affecting your joints. This will cause joint pain, swelling, and inflammation.
People who have a weak immune system and the elderly are more at risk of this. (8)
6. Skin infection
Molds can penetrate through the tiny pores on your skin. This can cause itching on the skin and other skin infection symptoms. (3)
Mold toxicity can cause intense coughing on long exposure. This is because of the immune response to spore inhalation that results in histamine release in the body. (9)
8. Asthma attack
People who suffer from asthma and mold allergy are prone to experiencing an asthma attack on exposure to mold. (9)
Staying around mold triggers your immune system that fights with mycotoxins. This may sometimes result in a headache. If you experience the same, try moving away from the moldy environment to feel better.
Common Places Mold Can Enter and Hide in Your Home
Having mold at home due to high moisture content is an issue faced by a lot of people around the world. They not only severely affect one’s health but also have a huge negative impact on the economy.
According to a majority of publications and research articles, the best way to protect oneself from mold toxicity and its symptoms is to prevent moisture, dampness, and any kind of microbial growth in the home. One should protect interior structures from the same. (10)
Common places you can find mold growth include: (11)
- Flat roofs that cannot shed rainwater
- Small leaks in the kitchen or bathroom
- Old carpets
- Air-dried clothing
- Hard-to-reach corners
Symptoms of Mold Exposure
Around 5% of the population is expected to suffer from allergic symptoms from molds over their lifetime.
Mold toxicity symptoms depend on the type of reaction a person may have to the mold. It can be an immunological response to mold contact that, in turn, causes allergy and related symptoms such as: (4)
- Runny nose
- Shortness of breath
- Redness of the eyes
- Itchy skin
- Difficulty breathing
- Ear discomfort
Other than an allergic reaction, a person may have an inflammatory response that leads to pretty vague symptoms, but some of them may be:
- Redness of the skin
- Itching (3)
Complications of Mold Toxicity
Mold toxicity leads to various symptoms that have been discussed above, but sometimes these symptoms may unravel into serious complications. These complications vary from person to person.
Those with a compromised respiratory system or immune system may be more prone to these problems. Also, certain types of molds are riskier than others and lead to the escalation of various health complications.
Common complications of mold toxicity include:
- Pneumonitis – This is more common among farm and mill workers than those who experience mold exposure at home. (3)(12)
- Memory loss (13)
- Migraine (4)
Most-Asked Questions About Mold Toxicity
Why does mold toxicity go undiagnosed?
The symptoms associated with mold toxicity are all over the place, which is why it may be hard to diagnose or confirm until a person has expertise in dealing with mold issues. (14)
The difficulties that arise in mold diagnoses include:
- Absence of a proper diagnostic test
- The different array of symptoms in different patients
- No standardized treatment protocols
- Absence of physical symptoms in some people
- Limited availability of supporting studies
How do I prevent mold toxicity?
The best way to avoid mold toxicity is to reduce exposure to mold by ensuring there is no mold growth in your home.
These tips may help get rid of mold growth or prevent one from ever happening: (15)
- Ensure proper ventilation at home, especially in the washroom.
- Fix all pipe leaks or water seepage issues.
- Clean all carpets and fabricated floors.
- Try to keep humidity levels low by using a dehumidifier.
- Ensure a proper drainage system.
- Use ACs that come with a HEPA filter as these filters trap mold spores.
What are some ways to get rid of mold?
Here are some quick home remedies to get rid of mold in your home:
- Spray undiluted vinegar on the mold growth. (16)
- Mix baking soda with water, and spray the solution on the mold. (17)
- Use tea tree oil or pine oil on the mold. (18)
Mold exposure and toxicity problems are not addressed enough but are very real and affect thousands of people every year. They should not be taken lightly or left untreated as they may lead to complications.
The best way to deal with mold-related health issues is to prevent mold growth at home.