Symptoms of mold (mildew) exposure are generally similar to allergic reactions or seasonal allergies. Symptoms of mold exposure can range from mild to severe, depending on the type of mold, the amount and the length of exposure. The person’s own level of sensitivity will also determine the severity of their reaction. Many times those who have come in contact with mold will have trouble with their sinuses. The sinuses will become inflamed and they may be congested. Usually, their eyes will begin to water and they may feel very irritated and scratchy as well.
Some of the symptoms attributed to mold exposure are highly controversial even among the experts. Generally some molds such as Alternaria and Cladosporium cause allergic reactions (commonly referred to as hay fever) to sensitive individuals. Exposure to opportunistic pathogens such as some species of Aspergillus and Fusarium can lead to infection especially to people with weakened immune system. For example, Aspergillus fumigatus can infect the lungs of immuno-compromised individuals causing a disease condition referred to as aspergillosis.
A small group of molds also produce, at some stage of their growth, toxic byproducts (mycotoxins) which are harmful to human health when inhaled, ingested or come into contact with the skin. Some mycotoxins are recognized carcinogens (i.e., they can trigger cancer).
Allergenic symptoms of mold exposure include:
- Allergic asthma and bronchitis;
- Non-inflammatory, unspecific symptoms such as eye and skin irritation, fatigue, headache, nausea, and vomiting.
Managing symptoms of mold exposure could be challenging since it could be linked to some other non-fungus related problems such as cat and dog hair, dust mites or animal dander. In case you find yourself or a relative frequently ill, it is recommended to find medical assistance to establish the root of the condition. It may also be a good idea to find professional such as an industrial hygienist to investigate the possible causes of the illnesses and recommend how to eliminate any mold growth in your house.
Mold inspection is an important step in preventing or eliminating the symptoms of mold exposure. In many cases a home mold inspection will be all that is needed to find and correct mold problems. Prevent mold growth by keeping indoor humidity low, between 30%-60%, using bathroom fans when showering, repairing plumbing leaks quickly, and using an air conditioner during humid seasons.