Is All Mold Toxic
Mold is not the only pathogen that grows from water damage. Fungal fragments, spores, mycotoxins, bacteria, mycobacteria, actinomycetes, VOCs, and other biotoxins can also form in damp buildings. These pathogens combine to produce a toxic soup that can lead to a multi-systemic and multi-symptomatic illness.
Not all mold is toxic, but many mold species from water-damaged buildings produce mycotoxins. It is the indoor concentration of mycotoxins and the rest of the toxic soup that can contribute to chronic debilitating symptoms.
Coughing And Shortness Of Breath
The irritation and inflammation caused by mold often lead to frequent coughing that is otherwise unexplained.
The throat and lungs are irritated continuously when repeatedly exposed to mycotoxins. If the issue isnt addressed, this coughing can develop into more severe conditions such as pneumonia and bronchitis.
The same inflammation that causes irritated, constricted airways that lead to wheezing and coughing can eventually lead to shortness of breath.
This gives a feeling of tightness in the chest. It may feel like you are unable to take in a full breath.
Indoor Environmental Quality: Health Problems Mold
Health problems associated with excessive damp conditions and mold include:
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What Causes Mold Allergy
Molds produce spores. Allergies happen when your immune system is very sensitive to outside substances, such as mold spores. Your body produces antibodies against the mold spores. As youre repeatedly exposed to the mold spores over time, your body sees the mold spores as something to be destroyed and your immune system creates bigger reactions to protect you.
Its also possible to allergic to fungi in food, like mushrooms or fermented foods. This type of allergy generally causes local symptoms in the mouth and can cause rashes or even affect breathing.
How To Remove Black Mold
Protect yourself. You don’t need to worry about having mold tested if you find mold in your house. But you should get rid of it no matter what type of mold it is. Take precautions to protect yourself before you attempt to remove mold.
Use an N-95 face mask to avoid breathing in mold spores. Wear gloves to protect your hands and goggles without ventilation holes to protect your eyes.â
Find and destroy the mold. The most important part of removing mold is finding and removing its water source. Mold can’t grow without moisture. Keep the following tips in mind when you’re cleaning up mold:
- Items that can’t be dried quickly should be discarded if they show signs of mold or water damage. Porous items such as carpet, padding, drywall, and paper soak up moisture.
- Do not paint or caulk over moldy surfaces. Remove the mold and dry the surfaces before you paint. Paint applied over mold will peel.
- Use plastic sheeting to block an area with mold from the rest of your house and keep the spores from spreading.
- Scrub hard surfaces with mold with detergent and water and dry them thoroughly.
- Put any moldy items in a plastic bag before you take them out of the room to prevent mold spores from spreading.
- Use a HEPA filter in your air conditioner and furnace to capture mold spores that may be airborne in your house.
- Consult a specialist if you’re not sure of the best way to clean a valuable or sentimental item.â
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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 let the doctor know that 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 nose 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.
Diagnosis Of Mold Toxicity
The conventional medical community is slow to acknowledge that chronic mold-induced illness is common. However, many functional and foundational medicine practitioners have expertise in mold toxicity and CIRS.
A common and simple test for mold toxicity is a urine mycotoxin test. Excreting an elevated level of mycotoxins is a sign of mold illness. Still, if your body is holding onto these toxins, your level may be falsely low.
Some functional medicine doctors also check specific immune system and inflammatory markers via blood tests. Examples are C4a, TGF Beta-1, and MMP-9. Elevated levels of these markers dont prove you have mold illness, but they contribute to the evidence.
Urine mycotoxin and inflammatory markers are best considered in the context of other signs and symptoms of mold illness. These include the following five areas:
The more of these criteria you meet, the more likely it is you have mold-related toxicity. And if you meet all five criteria, its more likely your mold illness is advanced and longstanding.
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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.
Who Is Most At Risk For Health Problems Associated With Exposure To Mold
People with allergies may be more sensitive to molds. People with immune suppression or underlying lung disease are more susceptible to fungal infections. Individuals with chronic respiratory disease may experience difficulty breathing. Individuals with immune suppression are at increased risk for infection from molds. If you or your family members have these conditions, a qualified medical clinician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment.
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What Is Mold Toxicity
Youre likely familiar with mold allergies. But you may wonder how they differ from mold toxicity, also called chronic mold illness. In short, poisons produced by mold can cause illness that extends beyond common mold allergies.
Mold allergy symptoms tend to be limited to your respiratory tract, eyes, and skin such as a runny nose and itchy eyes. Allergies happen when your immune system overreacts to mold spores. Those are dormant forms of the fungi. Theyre lightweight and easily float through the air.
In contrast, mold illness results from mold growing indoors and producing toxins. These can trigger varied and widespread symptoms in your body.
The buildings that harbor mold toxins are water-damaged buildings. This damage can result from any water intrusion such as from flooding, melting snow, or leaky pipes. Everyday activities like showering without good ventilation are risks, too. Warm, humid environments also increase mold growth risk.
Toxic mold growth could happen in any type of building. The most problematic ones are those where you spend a lot of time. That includes homes, workplaces, and schools.
Studies suggest that up to 50% of buildings in North America and Europe may have water damage.So, its better to suspect a building has a mold growth problem rather than assume it doesnt.
When Should I See My Healthcare Provider About Mold Allergy
If you have symptoms you think are related to mold, call your provider. They can treat your symptoms and may want to do allergy testing.
If you do have asthma or other breathing problems, and you suspect you have an allergy to mold, contact your provider. If you have any type of severe breathing problem, call 911 or go to an emergency room.
If your mold allergy is confirmed, make sure that you follow the instructions of your provider. You may need to carry an epinephrine injector if you have severe reactions to mold. This type of medicine treats life-threatening allergic reactions.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Allergies are common conditions. If you have them, it means you react differently to certain substances than other people do. The best thing to do is avoid what youre allergic to. Among people with allergies, an allergy to mold or other environmental substances happens to 1 in 5 people. Many allergic reactions to mold are similar to the types of reactions you have to other allergens like pet dander or dust. You may have itchy eyes or skin, and your nose might run. Some reactions to mold are more dangerous, like when it acts as an asthma trigger. Keep in contact with your healthcare provider to know the best ways to treat your mold allergy.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/10/2022.
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What Is Black Mold
Stachybotrys chartarum is a common black mold. It can also be a greenish color. It grows on cotton, wood, and paper products. It sometimes produces toxic chemicals that are found in its airborne spores and fungus fragments.
These are called mycotoxins and are dangerous if they’re eaten. There’s no link to inhaled Stachybotrys chartarum mycotoxins and deadly diseases. But there are risks for people with allergies, asthma, and other hypersensitivities.
There is no evidence that black mold causes symptoms such as fatigue, memory loss, an inability to focus, or a headache. These symptoms have been referred to as “toxic mold syndrome” but are largely due to media hype. Yet some people are allergic to mold. It should always be removed from your home.
Do I Have Toxic Mold Poisoning
Last Updated on by Matt Pratt-Hyatt PhD
Today Im going to deal with a common question, Do I have toxic mold poisoning? Another common question that is similar is Is mold really that serious, isnt mold everywhere? I will try and answer both of these questions. Most people are aware of mold because we see it every day.
There are literally thousands of mold species, however, not every species produces toxic compounds. However, water damage is becoming more and more common, which is leading to more mold exposure and mycotoxin production in homes, offices, and schools. However, even if the mold growth isnt producing toxins you might be reacting to the spores themselves.
Lets briefly talk about the two items you might be reacting to, what symptoms you might expect, and how to test to see if this is what is causing your problems.
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What About Tiny Mold Toxins Aka Mycotoxins
As mentioned above, though the Stachybotrys spores may be sticky and not easily airborne, there are other airborne contaminants to worry about: tiny fragments of mold and special toxins called mycotoxins. These contaminants may cause illness in those who are exposed, with mycotoxins being the most concerning.
You can think about mycotoxins as the molds defense: they are used for protection from environmental threats. Mycotoxins are minute organic compounds as small as 0.03 microns. These tiny molecules can stick to particles already floating through the air. Studies have found Stachybotrys mycotoxins on mold fragments that have broken off from a mold colony after it has been disturbed . This can be harmfulairborne particles less than 1.0 microns are easily breathed into the respiratory system, where they can cause irritation and potential allergic reactions. If this occurs, mycotoxins could accumulate onto local tissue and ultimately enter the bloodstream. The study by Brasel cited above showed that trichothecenes could be measured in the blood of people exposed to an indoor environment that had Stachybotrys.
Stachybotrys creates a class of mycotoxins referred to as trichothecenes. Trichothecenes have been widely studied and have been proven to be detrimental to the health of humans, animals and plants. In fact, trichothecenes have been investigated for the purpose of biological warfare needless to say, they are not something to which you want to be exposed.
What Does Black Mold Exposure Treatment Look Like
Just like the diagnosis, the treatment of mold exposure differs from doctor to doctor. One thing most doctors will advise you to do is to test for and, if needed, remove any unhealthy mold conditions from your home. Even if the treatment will help in the short-term, it wont be effective over the long-term if your indoor environment isnt improved.
To treat the symptoms, doctors may suggest:
- Over-the-counter medication. Medicine that would decrease the airway inflammation and suppress the allergic reactions.
- Nasal sprays to deal with a runny or stuffy nose or rinses to clear your nasal passages from inhaled mold spores.
- Regular allergy medicine
A persons immune system has to be working properly to fight mold symptoms, so changes in a lifestyle or diet might be necessary. In more severe cases of allergies, doctors prescribe immunotherapy to provide relief from symptoms
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How Do You Keep Mold Out Of Buildings And Homes
Inspect buildings for evidence of water damage and visible mold as part of routine building maintenance, Correct conditions causing mold growth to prevent mold growth.
Inside your home you can control mold growth by:
- Controlling humidity levels
- Promptly fixing leaky roofs, windows, and pipes
- Thoroughly cleaning and drying after flooding
- Ventilating shower, laundry, and cooking areas.
Signs You Have Mold Illness And What To Do About It
Molds: What is it? How can people get it?
Moldy homes not just look ugly and unappealing. These black and filament fungi can actually cause mold poisoning. While most people may not be able to recognize the typical moldy smell, they can actually fall sick because of the possible mold poisoning. Molds can detrimentally affect your health. While you will experience many symptoms, you may not be able to cure it with the conventional medicine. Plus, it is difficult to diagnose the mold toxicity too. Thats because most of the mold toxicity symptoms are similar to flu, common cold and fever conditions. Also, some symptoms are nonspecific in the case.
Molds are a type of fungi that grow in filaments and produce microscopic spores. Because these spores can fly away and infect a person, it is important to keep the damp areas clean. Molds always grow in damp areas with humid locations. It can be in between tiles, inside your bathroom or even on your shower curtain. Sometimes, mold can grow in poorly ventilated bathrooms, kitchens, floors and even on the walls. Air system circulates molds easily around your house. Also, these microscopic mold spores can attach to your floors, furniture, carpet and books.
What causes mold toxicity?
16 Possible signs of mold toxicity:
How do I Treat Mold/mycotoxin Exposure?
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How Is Mold Allergy Treated
One of the most important ways to manage a mold allergy is to avoid mold. Reduce your exposure to mold as much as possible by avoiding damp places and things like piles of wet leaves. Make sure your bathroom has an exhaust fan or window you can open to limit dampness and beware of leaks in your roof, walls or pipes in your home.
Your provider might suggest immunotherapy to reduce your sensitivity to mold, commonly known as allergy shots.
Medications, like antihistamines or nasal steroids can give you relief from symptoms. If you have asthma, your provider may suggest a different medication, like inhaled steroids or mast cell stabilizers.
How Do You Treat Mold Toxicity Symptoms
Right now, youll see a lot of experts recommending handfuls of supplements and strict diets but the reality is, we just dont know for sure if these are the right treatment approach, says McElroy. Instead, she recommends the steps below. You might be surprised to see that killing the mold is only one out of five. Thats no coincidence! As McElroy explains, I often dont focus on killing mold since most symptoms are due to the immune response, not the mold itself. Instead, she starts with simple lifestyle steps and utilizes non-pill practices to achieve a state of better immune health, including:
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% Of People Have A Genetic Predisposition To Mold Illness
25% Of People Have A Genetic Predisposition to Mold Illness
The most interesting aspect of the research on the effect that Sick Building Syndrome has on patients pertains to genetics. One of the biggest problems with mold sickness is that it impacts everyone differently. Some may experience minor allergies, and other health conditions like asthma and chronic sinusitis, while other mold sensitized patients may suffer severe illnesses.
One physician documented the health symptoms of 227 patients that lived in water damaged buildings during a three year period. What this doctor found was that 98% of his patients had one of the gene types where their immune systems were not able to effectively deal with contaminants from water damaged buildings.
As stated by Pinto:
In laymans terms, two different genes have been isolated, which keep some peoples immune systems from functioning properly when they have been exposed to contaminants from water-damaged buildings. Instead of properly identifying and eliminating the foreign invader, those body defense mechanisms increase the problem. When viewed with a basic understanding of genetic distributions, this research made it clear that up to a quarter of the population is at increased risk from exposure to water-damaged buildings.
Because of this research, the scientific community and legal system is now taking much greater notice because diagnostic tests, lab tests and treatment tools are being developed to help these patients.