What Is Mold Allergy
An allergy is an abnormal reaction by your immune system to common substances that dont affect most people. Molds are a type of fungus that exists almost everywhere in the world. The molds that grow inside our houses prefer dark and damp places and can be harmful to some people with immune systems that develop responses against mold.
People with mold allergies may develop itchy skin or rash, watery or itchy eyes, runny or itchy noses or in more severe cases, breathing problems.
There are probably thousands of different types of molds. Its possible to be allergic to only certain types of mold.
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What Is Mold Toxicity
Mold toxicity occurs when mycotoxins are produced by micro-fungi such as mold, that can affect your bodys system leading to chronic symptoms.
It is estimated that 24% of the population is genetically susceptible to this illness and will begin experiencing chronic inflammatory immune responses as a result of this exposure. Toxins produced by mold will start to accumulate inside the body and begin its takeover of symptoms to an individual.
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Top Tips For Controlling Mold
It’s impossible to get rid of all mold and mold spores in your home, but because mold spores can’t grow without moisture, reducing moisture in your home is the best way to prevent or eliminate mold growth. If there is already mold growing in your home, it’s important to clean up the mold and fix the problem causing dampness. If you clean up the mold but don’t fix the problem, the mold will most likely return.
Following is some advice for reducing moisture throughout the home with specific tips for the areas most prone to dampness and mold growth:
Around the house:
In the kitchen:
- Use exhaust fans to move moisture outside whenever you are cooking, washing dishes, or cleaning.
- Turn off certain appliances if you notice moisture on windows and other surfaces.
- Check for leaks around the kitchen sink, refrigerator ice makers, and other sources of water. Repair if necessary.
- Empty and clean refrigerator drip pans if necessary.
In basements and crawl spaces:
In the laundry room:
- Vent your clothes dryer to the outside.
- Make sure the vent is clear of obstructions, such as lint, and that there are no holes that leak air. If the vent duct is damaged, replace it with a metal duct. Have the duct cleaned at least once a year.
- Avoid leaving damp clothes in the laundry basket or dryer. Wash and dry them promptly.
Are There Different Types Of Mold Allergies
You can be allergic to molds in the air, and you can be allergic to molds in foods. Some food allergies related to mold include mushrooms, certain types of cheese, fermented foods, some wines and food products that contain vinegar.
There are also many different types of mold that can cause allergies. Some common ones include _Alternaria, Aspergillus, _Cladosporium and Penicillium. There are also toxic molds that can cause very serious illnesses. An example of a toxic mold is Stachybotrys, which is known as black mold. In addition to allergies, aspergillus can cause infections known as aspergillosis.
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How Do Doctors Test For Mold Exposure
If you are aware of mold growth in your home and you feel sick, inform your doctor about the mold and your symptoms right away. But sometimes you cant see mold, and it is not clear whether its mold exposure thats made you sick or not.
Because mold allergy or mold exposure symptoms can resemble that of other allergies, the doctor will typically start by asking about your medical and family medical history. Additionally, doctors usually run tests for mold exposure which may include one or more of the following:
- Skin test for reactions to allergens, including mold
- IgG mold antibodies test to see the immune systems reaction to molds. A positive test means that an individual was or is currently exposed to mold
- Urine mycotoxins test
- A fungal culture of the nasal sinuses
The type of testing youll receive depends on the doctor you visit, so be sure to ask questions ahead of time so you can feel confident in your diagnosis.
Getting A Diagnosis For Mold Sickness
While symptoms to mold exposure are not uncommon , many health care professionals struggle to pinpoint the cause behind these symptoms.
Often only a few people or one person and not everyone, in a home or workplace experience symptoms. This is frustrating and confusing for the sick person. When their doctors cant find any reason for the illness, they can start to feel like the sickness is all in their mind.
People suffering from mold exposure can often be misdiagnosed with disorders such as:
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What Medical Tests Are Available To Determine If I Am Allergic Tomold
There are medical tests to determine if you are allergic to a particularsubstance, such as mold. These can be performed on skin or blood. Skin testsare considered more reliable than blood tests to determine allergic reaction toa substance. Skin tests yield results more quickly, are less expensive thanblood tests and are generally considered more sensitive. If an individual hassymptoms year-round, which may indicate an indoor allergy, skin testing may berecommended.
Blood testing called the RAST test can be done to showif you are allergic to a substance. The RAST test detects levels of antibodiesto particular allergens. The test is expensive to perform and results areusually not available for about two weeks.
Different Types Of Mold
Allergenic Molds. Allergenic molds are on the low end of the danger scale. They only cause problems for those with asthma and a predisposed allergy to the specific mold. Children are more likely to have mold allergies than adults.
Pathogenic Molds. Pathogenic molds will cause some infection. This is a big problem for those with a suppressed immune system. An acute response resembling bacterial pneumonia is commonly found with those exposed to these types of mold.
Toxigenic Molds. As the name implies, these molds produce mycotoxins that can cause serious health effects. They have been tied to immunosuppression and cancer. The toxic chemicals found in these types of molds can be absorbed into the body when one inhales them, eats them, or even touches them.
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How To Prevent Mold Growth
At the end of the day, the best way to prevent the growth of mold is to control the moisture in your home. There are several tools you can use:
- Dehumidify: Use a dehumidifier to reduce your indoor humidity. Try to keep your humidity level to around 40% relative humidity for optimal conditions.
- Use An Air Purifier: Take steps to reduce that risk of inhaling mold spores and other airborne irritants. Using a HEPA air purifier is a great way to eliminate microscopic particles for your indoor air.
- Proper Ventilation: If youve woken up in the morning to notice condensation on your windows, your home may not be properly ventilated. Consider installing a ventilation fan to improve the airflow in your home and limit the creation of moisture.
Helpful Tips For Reducing A Stuffy Nose
Nasal decongestants in the form of sprays and tablets can help relieve a stuffy nose. However, these are only temporary fixes and should not be used too often as they can become addictive. In fact, nasal sprays can actually damage your nasal passages if used in excess.
A humidifier can also help reduce stuffiness by adding moisture to the air and promoting mucous production.
If you are still having persistent stuffy nose, you should contact your doctor or another medical professional.
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What Causes Mould To Grow Indoors
Mould only grows when there is sufficient moisture on a surface or humidity in the air. Common causes include:
- leaky roofs and walls including and blocked gutters and downpipes
- condensation from cooking, showering, clothes drying and from breathing in areas with poor air circulation eg cupboards and corners and furniture against uninsulated outside walls. Avoid conditions encouraging mould growth, by using heat, insulation and ventilation. The cheapest and easiest way of reducing moisture and humidity levels is by ventilating a room by opening a door or window. Use exhaust fans where available.
What Do Mycotoxins Do To Humans
Mycotoxins are poisonous substances that are produced by certain types of fungi. These toxins can cause a range of health problems in humans, including skin rashes, digestive problems, and respiratory problems. Some mycotoxins can even cause cancer. Exposure to mycotoxins can occur through contaminated food or water, or through inhalation of dust particles that contain the toxins. In some cases, mycotoxins can also be found in building materials, such as insulation or wallpaper. Treatment for mycotoxin exposure typically involves removal from the exposure source and supportive care. In some cases, specific medications may be used to treat the health effects of mycotoxins.
There are many different types of mold, and not all of them will produce mycotoxins and cause symptoms of mold poisoning. Some of the most common mold types that have been linked to mycotoxin production include Stachybotrys chartarum , Aspergillus, and Penicillium.
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Asthma And Mold Exposure
There are a few reasons why people with asthma may be more susceptible to mold. First, asthma is a condition that affects the lungs and airways, making it difficult to breathe. This can make it hard for the body to clear out mucus and other respiratory secretions, which can provide a breeding ground for mold spores. Additionally, people with asthma often have inflamed airways, which can make them more susceptible to irritation from mold spores. Finally, people with asthma may be more likely to have allergies, which can also make them more sensitive to mold. In general, it is important for people with asthma to avoid exposure to mold and other airborne irritants. If you have asthma and are exposed to mold, it is important to seek medical attention right away.
Signs And Symptoms Of Black Mold Poisoning
Black mold exposure may often present with your typical allergic complaints that are listed above. However, one must be mindful that other non-allergic, mold-related illnesses exist and may present similarly to a mold allergy, but often with more seemingly unrelated symptoms.
Research has found that people who have been exposed to mixed mold, mold spores and mycotoxins have experienced neurological and behavioral symptoms. These symptoms have been corroborated by other studies like Gordon et al. and Rea et al. .
Such non-allergic symptoms to mold may include, but are not limited to:
- Cognitive impairment
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Is There A Test To Determine If I Have Been Exposed To Mold
Some physicians have recommended testing for mold-specific antibodies. Thepresence of antibodies only indicates that you have been exposed to a substanceat some time. It does not tell you when you were exposed, where the exposuretook place, or how much of the mold you were exposed to. Having a positive testfor mold-specific antibodies alone is generally considered insufficient toprove that health effects reported by individuals in moisture-damaged buildingsare caused by exposure to mold.
Black Mold Something Of A Misnomer
Before we go any further, lets clear up the confusion about black mold. When you read about toxic black mold it is kind of misleading. The thing is dangerous and toxic mold is not just black, it can be many different colors. Toxic molds can appear to be green, yellow, brown, and black.
All molds have the potential to cause irritation and allergy symptoms. However, some molds can also cause much more dangerous health problems. Some molds, but not all, produce mycotoxins. Not all molds are toxic, but many are.Mycotoxins can cause health problems ranging from poisoning to cancer.
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More About Mold Illness And Its Effects On The Brain
Like what youve read?
Mold Toxicity Is Also An Issue And It Is Considered A Chronic Inflammatory Response
An acute and chronic, systemic inflammatory response acquired following exposure to the interior environment of a water-damaged building with resident toxigenic organisms, including, but not limited to fungi, bacteria, actinomycetes, and Mycobacterium serve as inflammogens! Inflammogens keep your body in a state of inflammation.
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Mycotoxins And The Brain: Mechanisms Of Action
There are several mechanisms by which mold and mycotoxins harm the brain and induce cognitive dysfunction.
- Mycotoxins induce oxidative stress, instigating the release of reactive oxygen species from cells that cause damage to nervous system tissue.
- Trichothecenes induce mitochondrial dysfunction, a phenomenon that has been found to underlie cognitive impairment.
- Mycotoxins interact with the neuroimmune axis, a network of cells and signaling molecules that links the immune system with the central nervous system. Mycotoxins activate mast cells along this axis, triggering the release of inflammatory cytokines that cause neuroinflammation and cognitive dysfunction.
- Mycotoxins impair neuronal plasticity by binding to proteins involved in synapse activity. Reduced neuronal plasticity is a contributing factor in cognitive dysfunction, depression, and anxiety, among other mental health issues.
- Mycotoxins compromise the integrity of the bloodbrain barrier, crossing into the brain and exerting neurotoxic effects on neurons.
Side Effects Of Breathing Mold And Mildew
The quality of the air you breathe is vital for your well-being. There are thousands of microbial contaminants in the air that may pose health hazards. Fungi, which are ubiquitous in distribution are one such grave threat to your health in indoor environments. Molds are the most common forms of fungi found on earth. And mildew refers to certain kinds of mold or fungus. They reproduce through the formation of spores, which are tiny microscopic cells that float through the air. These mild spores are not always dangerous. We are exposed to them daily, both indoors and outdoors.
Outdoors, molds take part in the decomposition of organic matter such as dead trees, compost, and leaves. But, when they land on a moist surface indoors, they may grow, posing dangers. Molds survive and grow in warm, humid, and damp conditions.1 So, usually they are found in places such as basements or showers where there is high humidity. They also grow on cardboard, wood products, wallpaper, ceiling tiles, paint, and paper products.
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What Are Pathogenic Reactions To Mold
Pathogenic reactions to mold exposure are divided into three categories:
How Can I Check For Mold
Its best to hire a professional to help you identify and remove mold, especially if youre allergic or vulnerable to it.
You should also consider hiring help if the mold covers more than 10 square feet or if its hidden behind wallpaper, ceiling tiles, or other areas.
Here are some steps for identifying and removing mold.
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How Common Is Mold In Buildings
Molds are very common in buildings and homes. Mold will grow in places with a lot of moisture, such as around leaks in roofs, windows, or pipes, or where there has been flooding. Mold grows well on paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, and wood products. Mold can also grow in dust, paints, wallpaper, insulation, drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery.
The most common indoor molds are Cladosporium, Penicillium, and Aspergillus. We do not have precise information about how often different molds are found in buildings and homes.
Mycotoxins Damage Your Health
Mycotoxins are sneaky. While mold itself cant enter your bloodstream though it can hang around and colonize in spots like your nostrils and lungs mycotoxins can get into your bloodstream and circulate throughout your body.
These opportunistic toxins can hijack your immune system, making you more vulnerable to infections. If your immune system is already compromised , mycotoxins take advantage. If youre healthy, they can make you very sick.
Studies show that mycotoxins can:
Unfortunately, mold toxicity is frequently misdiagnosed. Because of its wide-ranging effects, its typically mistaken for other conditions including depression, multiple sclerosis, or autoimmune conditions. Plus, because mycotoxins are opportunistic, theyre often connected with debilitating diseases such as Lyme disease, IBS and fibromyalgia.
Your Genes Can Make You More Vulnerable
Around 25% of people are genetically predisposed to get sick from mold exposure. A simple test, called the HLA-DR, can tell you if youre in that more susceptible population.
If you are, it means your immune system cant easily identify and get rid of mycotoxins. That can allow them to build up in the body, causing harm wherever they end up. On top of that, because of that genetic twist, even relatively small exposures to mycotoxins can affect you.
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