What Are The Effects Of Breathing In Mold Or Mildew
Mold and mildew, found everywhere in the environment, are both fungi that need to be in moist areas to grow. Areas that are dark and have poor air quality can also contain mold and mildew. These fungi will eventually damage the surfaces they grow on by spreading seeds or spores. These spores can enter the air and be inhaled, or come into contact with your skin. While not always harmful, inhaling or touching mold or mildew can cause both minor and serious symptoms in some people.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
What Types Of Illnesses Are Related To Mildew And Mold
Mildew can cause breathing problems, alongside a lot of other illnesses. Wheezing, congestion, headaches, and irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat are some of the common symptoms. Mold infestation, on the other hand, can trigger this and several other symptoms. Mold has been linked to lungs inflammation, liver infections, and impaired cognitive function. However, the consequences vary depending on the mold type.
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.
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Whats The Difference Between Mildew And Mold How Do You Prevent Them
The basic difference between mold and mildew starts with their physical appearance. Mildew is typically grey or white. Mold, on the other hand, can be found in a range of colors but is most commonly brown or green. Well look at some of the other distinctions and similarities between mildew and mold in this section.
How Do Molds Affect People
Exposure to damp and moldy environments may cause a variety of health effects, or none at all. Some people are sensitive to molds. For these people, exposure to molds can lead to symptoms such as stuffy nose, wheezing, and red or itchy eyes, or skin. Some people, such as those with allergies to molds or with asthma, may have more intense reactions. Severe reactions may occur among workers exposed to large amounts of molds in occupational settings, such as farmers working around moldy hay. Severe reactions may include fever and shortness of breath.
In 2004 the Institute of Medicine found there was sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people with asthma symptoms in people with asthma and with hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals susceptible to that immune-mediated condition.
In 2009, the World Health Organization issued additional guidance, the WHO Guidelines for Indoor Air Quality: Dampness and Mould pdf iconexternal icon pdf icon. Other recent studies have suggested a potential link of early mold exposure to development of asthma in some children, particularly among children who may be genetically susceptible to asthma development, and that selected interventions that improve housing conditions can reduce morbidity from asthma and respiratory allergies.
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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.
How To Tell If Your Apartment Has Mold And What To Do About It
Learn how to tell if you have mold in your apartmentand what steps to take if you do.
Whether youre about to sign a lease or already in an apartment, you should know the telltale signs of mold. Mold can lead to property damage as well as an array of health problems, so youll want to take care of any mold problems as soon as you discover them. By learning the signs and symptoms of apartment mold, youll know when you need to take action.
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How To Prevent Mold
Controlling moisture is the key to preventing mold from growing in your home. The following tips will help stop mold from becoming a problem:
- Keep the humidity in your house below 50%. Using an air conditioner or dehumidifier can help with this.
- Make sure your house is clean, dry, and well-ventilated.
- Fix any water leaks immediately.
- Use ventilation fans in your kitchen and bathrooms.
- Don’t put carpet in rooms that are likely to become wet such as the basement, kitchen, or bathrooms.
- Make sure wet floor mats are dried quickly.
What To Do In Case Of Mold Allergy Symptoms
In case of continued symptoms indicating possible mold exposure, you may do the following:
- Consult the doctor if symptoms persist. Follow prescribed allergic medications.
- Do something to prevent new mold growth, such as cleaning up leaks or spills right away, using exhaust fans or dehumidifiers to reduce humidity and moisture at home, regularly cleaning refrigerator drip pans and garbage cans, regularly checking drainage and clearing gutters.
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Can Mildew Make You Sick
Like mold, mildew can cause health problems with prolonged exposure. While the fungi themselves are not toxic, certain species produce mycotoxins, which can cause mild to severe symptoms in humans. These symptoms are typically reminiscent of a cold or flu and are more dangerous if you suffer from a pre-existing condition like allergies or asthma.
The main reason mold poses a greater threat to human health is because its more likely to go undetected for extended periods of time. Because mildew is a surface fungus, its usually easier to spot and remove.
How Much Mold Exposure Is Harmful
While there is no magic number for how much black mold you need to be exposed to before it poses health risks, no level of contact is truly healthy, and you should take steps to avoid or limit your exposure. Every persons body reacts differently, and some individuals may have a higher tolerance before exhibiting symptoms of harmful exposure.
If you suspect you were exposed to black mold, look at the symptoms below and contact your physician if youre experiencing any of them.
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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.
Black Mold And Toxicity
When you read about molds, you may definitely want to know about black mold, as it is frequently singled out as the biggest culprit. Stachybotrys chartarum, also known as black mold is a greenish-black mold. It was thought to be the reason behind a lung disease called idiopathic pulmonary hemosiderosis among infants living in a water-damaged environment in Cleveland, Ohio. However, there is not much research to prove the association between acute pulmonary hemorrhage/hemosiderosis in infants and exposure to molds, specifically stachybotrys chartarum.15 The guidelines from federal organizations suggest that mold growth, regardless of the type, should be controlled in an appropriate manner.16
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The Ideal Growing Conditions
Moisture and warmth are required for mildew and mold to flourish. Mildew thrives in temperatures ranging from 77°F to 88°F and humidity levels ranging from 62 to 93 percent. Mold, on the other hand, thrives in environments with a humidity level of 60% or higher and at all temperatures. Mold can thrive even in the most extreme places and in extreme conditions, such as Antarctica!
Black Mold Is Toxigenic
Certain molds prove toxigenic, which means that they produce mycotoxins that cause ill health effects. A little mold is everywhere, but not all mold is poisonous. That doesnt mean you should ignore mold.
Most are familiar with black mold, which is toxigenic and produces mold spores. These form colonies and grow with other spores. High concentrations of these mycotoxins can cause mold poisoning in healthy people, too.
Mold poisoning is also known as mycotoxicosis. This condition affects the upper respiratory system with harmful cold or flu-like symptoms. Additional symptoms due to mycotoxins can prove fatal. Thats especially true for those with severe allergies, asthma or other conditions.
Green-black mold is also harmful. Its found on paper, dust, lint, fiberboard and other low-nitrogen content materials. It can develop and spread after water leaks, floods and condensation.
Until you know more, treat all molds the same due to the potential long-term side effects and health risks. Take mold growth seriously. You will usually see the mold colony and smell the signature musty smell.
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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.
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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How Mold Testing Works
There are two different kinds of professional-grade tests that experts tend to utilize to look for mold infestations. Both of them involve taking a small sample of material, which is then analyzed in a lab for traces of mold spores or the presence of mycotoxins. Urine test kits, as their name implies, require a small volume of urine from a human . These kits are used to determine if a person has a mold infestation in their body.
Meanwhile, home test kits require a small amount of dust or detritus from a buildings air conditioning or heating unit filters. Its not uncommon for professional environmental inspectors or mold remediators to use both kits in tandem after experiencing water damage, as they provide differentbut equally crucialinformation.
There is a third type of mold testing kit on the market its the kind that folks frequently see in hardware and big-box stores. These kits are designed to detect mold spores in the air, and they usually consist of a petri dish filled with microbial growth medium. The dish is exposed to the air for a set period of time in order to collect samples, and then its sealed and allowed to incubate. The idea is that any mold spores captured by the dish will then grow, allowing them to be seen and studied.
How Can Aspergillosis Be Prevented
Due to the prevalence of aspergillus mold in the environment, it is very difficult to avoid exposure. It is best to avoid locations with excessive amounts of dust or mold, such as construction sites or compost piles. People with weakened immune systems or mold allergies should avoid activities such as gardening or lawn mowing. If exposure to airborne dust or mold is likely, considering wearing a face mask or N95 mask. In some cases, your doctor might recommend the use of an antifungal medicine to prevent infection.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/09/2019.
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Rental Properties With Mould Issues
When a rental property has mould, the owner should fix any mould caused by faults in gutters or other fixtures, but the tenant should ensure that extractor fans are used when available and the home is aired regularly where possible.
Sometimes, the cause of the mould growth may be due to a building fault that may not be easily rectified.
If as a tenant, you have taken measures to make sure the building is properly ventilated and mould is still growing, you should raise the issue with the owner.
Information on mould in rental properties is available on Consumer Affairs Victorias website.
Tenants seeking further advice on their rights can also contact the Tenants Union of Victoria on .
Common Toxic Mold Symptoms
- One of the first and most common symptoms of toxic mold poisoning is the development of respiratory issues. Labored breathing, asthma, cough, irritation of the sinuses or mucous membranes in the nose and throat, or pulmonary bleeding are all common. These would be especially worrisome if you are not someone who typically suffers from allergies or asthma-like symptoms.
- Also watch for toxic mold symptoms that hint at problems with the nervous system. They are less common, but signal the presence of critical problems. Headaches, dizziness, memory loss or a loss of concentration all hint at something being seriously wrong.
- Sooner or later, a toxic mold infestation can even cause damage to other body systems as well. Pain in the liver or other organs, fertility problems, unexplained lethargy, nausea, urinary tract infections, and other otherwise unexplained health issues can all be symptoms of toxic mold poisoning and require immediate intervention.
If one or more family members or residents of a particular home experience these same symptoms at the same time or symptoms appear to temporarily get better upon leaving the house, its even more likely that a toxic mold has invaded your home and begun to make it unlivable. Its important not to wait to deal with the issue at hand. These are very clear signs that serious damage is being done to your system.
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How Is Mold Poisoning Treated
The effects of mold poisoning can be tricky to treat. Traditional treatments like antifungals do not work because in cases of fungal toxicity there is no actual fungal infection present within the body. Instead, its a matter of treating the effects while assisting your body to clear out the harmful toxins on its own.
The first and foremost step in treating fungal toxicity is to remove yourself from the harmful environment. Since mold poisoning is your immune systems response to being exposed to the mycotoxins produced by black mold, the sooner you limit your contact, the better. This step will prevent your condition from worsening while you seek other forms of treatments in addition to preventing your symptoms from returning in the future.
The following medications can help you manage your respiratory-related symptoms:
- Nasal spray
- Allergy shots
Your body can also benefit from treatments that boost the immune system which will help your body to naturally filter out toxins more quickly and effectively. Be sure to consult with your doctor to put together a treatment plan that works best for you.
- Probiotics and antioxidants
- Limiting exposure to other toxins like pesticides and heavy metals
- Use of binding agents like charcoal and clay to prevent the toxins from re-circulating throughout the body