What Are The Symptoms Of Black Mold Exposure
Black mold, also known as toxic black mold or Stachubotrys, can cause many serious heath problems if found inside a home. There are numerous negative health effects from mold exposure, such as mental impairment, breathing problems, internal organ damage, and in some cases, even death. The symptoms of black mold exposure can be separated into different groups depending upon the area affected by mold presence.
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Rare Health Effects Of Black Mold
In numerous human studies of stachybotrys mycotoxins, researchers have observed rare and bizarre health effects. Many of these health effects cannot be conclusively linked to black mold exposure, as multiple mold strains and unique environmental conditions precipitated sickness. Regardless of causation, researchers observed associations between black mold exposure and the following conditions:
- Severe vomiting and diarrhea
- Pseudotumor cerebri
- Low levels of T-lymphocyte cells
The vast majority of black mold exposure does not cause serious health effects. In fact, its possible to live with black mold without ever being aware of its presence. However, as indoor mold is increasingly common, its important to be aware of its potential hazards to health.
Is It Safe To Live In A House With Black Mold
In short, yes. Exposure to black mold can be harmful in the long term, particularly in people with respiratory conditions and other risk factors. Black mold can be one of several different species of fungus, including Stachybotrys chartarum. Short term exposure to black mold is unlikely to cause harm in healthy people.
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Who Does Mold Exposure Effect The Most
Some people can live in moldy environments for years without experiencing any physical symptoms, while others have immediate and sometimes severe reactions that are associated with toxic mold. The most common response to mold exposure may be allergies. Any illness or disease caused by toxic mold can become chronic with extended exposure. Individuals most likely to contract some form of mold-related illness or disease are those who already have some kind of compromised immune system, such as
- Infants whose immune systems are not fully developed
- The elderly whose immune systems are simply worn out
- AIDS, cancer, and chemotherapy patients
- Persons recovering from recent surgery
- People with sinus conditions and other allergies
- Pregnant women
- People with asthma, pneumonia, bronchitis, and other respiratory ailments
How Do You Test For Toxic Mold Exposure
All in all, there is no simple way to diagnose mycotoxin illness, says McElroy. But testing is typically the first step. She prefers to start patients with at-home tests and also recommends a home inspection by a certified mold inspector. should only be ordered, in my opinion, once the environment is evaluated for the source of mold, explains McElroy. The most direct way to test for mold toxicity is a urine test that measures for metabolites of mold and mycotoxins as well as glutathione levels . That said, as McElroy explains, I never place the entire diagnosis of mycotoxin illness on tests alone. Why? Because mold tests have some major drawbacks, including:
- False negatives and false positives are common
- They are not covered by insurance
- You cant test all toxins there are hundreds
- The levels found on tests dont necessarily correlate with the severity of symptoms
These tests clearly arent perfect. In fact, McElroy says she has seen patients who were really sick have almost nothing show up on the test while the healthy spouses of those same patients register values off the charts, so having a clinician thats willing and able to do some extra investigation into symptoms of mold and toxic mold exposure is key.
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How Harmful Is Black Mold
How Harmful Is Black Mold?
According to the CEO of Wonder Makers Environmental, Michael Pinto, there is mounting evidence that mold causes sickness:
There is now good science that documents that exposure to fungal contaminants and damp environments not only triggers standard allergenic responses, but pushes certain parts of the immune system into overdrive. In essence, the bodys defense system ends up attacking the host as well as the biological invaders.
In 2009, the World Health Organization, produced a 228 page document entitled WHO Guidelines for Indoor Air Quality: Dampness and Mould and concluded the following:
When sufficient moisture is available, hundreds of species of bacteria and fungi particularly mould pollute indoor air. The most important effects of exposure to these pollutants are the increased prevalence of respiratory symptoms, allergies, and asthma, as well as disturbance of the immune system. Preventing persistent dampness and microbial growth on interior surfaces and building structures is the most important means of avoiding harmful effects on health.
Many mold survivors chronically exposed to mold develop a condition known as Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome , defined as:
CIRS is associated with 37 health symptoms, including asthma, dizziness, migraines, and bronchitis.
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What Are Microbial Volatile Organic Compounds
Another source of irritation from mold exposure comes from substances knownas microbial volatile organic compounds . These compounds are producedthrough fungal metabolism and are released directly into the air, often givingoff strong or unpleasant odors. Exposure to mVOCs from molds can irritate theeyes and respiratory system and has been linked to symptoms such as headaches,dizziness, fatigue, nasal irritation and nausea. The effects of mVOCs are notcompletely understood and research is still in the early stages.
How Do Molds Get In The Indoor Environment And How Do They Grow
Mold is found both indoors and outdoors. Mold can enter your home through open doorways, windows, vents, and heating and air conditioning systems. Mold in the air outside can also attach itself to clothing, shoes, and pets can and be carried indoors. When mold spores drop on places where there is excessive moisture, such as where leakage may have occurred in roofs, pipes, walls, plant pots, or where there has been flooding, they will grow. Many building materials provide suitable nutrients that encourage mold to grow. Wet cellulose materials, including paper and paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, wood, and wood products, are particularly conducive for the growth of some molds. Other materials such as dust, paints, wallpaper, insulation materials, drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery, commonly support mold growth.
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Who Is At Risk For Mold Toxicity
While anyone can become ill from exposure to mold and its mycotoxins, some are more susceptible than others.
People who already have allergies or asthma can be more severely affected by mold toxicity than those who do not have allergies.
Also, people who are already ill, have immune suppression, or who have respiratory illnesses are more likely to have noticeable and intense symptoms resulting from mold exposure.
Symptoms of mold toxicity are relatively persistent and should not be ignored.
Who Is At Risk
Some people are at greater risk for mold-related health problems than others, although even healthy young adults can be affected. Doctors dont always know why some people become ill when exposed to mold but others dont. Those at greatest risk for mold-related health problems include:
- Infants, especially premature infants
- Elderly people
- Those with known allergies to mold or other environmental allergies, such as hay fever
- Those with pre-existing respiratory disorders, like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder
- Those with disorders affecting the immune system, like HIV, AIDS, or autoimmune disorders
- Others with compromised immune systems, such as people undergoing chemotherapy, taking certain medications, or who have had an organ transplant
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How Mold Affects Salivary Glands
You may be wondering if mold affects salivary gland size or functioning. Exposure to mold in the home can cause infections that can cause swollen lymph nodes and when the lymph nodes in the neck area are swollen, people sometimes mistake those for swollen salivary glands. Lymph nodes and salivary glands are not the same things, however. Well explain what salivary glands are, how they might be affected by exposure to mold, and what to do if you think mold is making you ill.
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Long Term Effects / Difficulty Of Concretely Establishing Causes
In some cases, experts believe that long term black mold exposure manifests as cancer. Again, because there is no one biomarker that helps identify the presence of black mold within the human body, this linkage is causal at best. Scientists know that mycotoxins are responsible for creating health problems in humans, among other creatures but creating a solid cause/effect chart is difficult. Mycotoxins can immediately manifest harm, or lay dormant for years. Their ferocity is based on the relative state of the immune system of the person they encounter, along with a host of other as yet undefined factors.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Black Mold Exposure In Children
The first symptom to watch out for is allergic reactions. Children who are allergic to black mold may begin to sneeze, have runny noses, itchy eyes, and develop a cough or wheeze.
Respiratory issues can worsen when in contact with mold toxins. Asthma sufferers can display symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath that are further aggravated by black mold.
Black mold exposure can also cause irritant reactions in children prone to health sensitivities, such as skin and eye irritations, itching, rashes, or headaches.
In addition, there are neurological symptoms caused by mold toxins, such as memory problems, anxiety, depression, trembling or shaking, numbness, disorientation, shortened attention span, slow reflexes, and dizziness.
Who Are The Best Lawyers For Mold Lawsuits In Rhode Island
If you need help filing a lawsuit after toxic mold exposure, call Petrarca Law. With over 40 years of combined legal experience, we know Rhode Island law inside and out, and we can help you stay up-to-date with the latest cases on mold.
Well work with you personally to assess your case and come up with the best battle strategy for legal success. Well take care of every aspect of the lawsuit for you, so you can focus on recovering. Contact our office today for a free consultation.
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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
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 Long Does It Take For Black Mold To Kill You
Black mold, or Stachybotrys atra, has a reputation for being fatal. This is due to reports that black mold was related to infant deaths in the 1990s. Its also been linked to the idea of sick building syndrome and is often called toxic black mold.
But theres no solid evidence proving that black mold is toxic. Black mold, and mold in general, is not deadly.
Still, black mold can cause unwanted side effects, especially those in people who are sensitive to mold. This includes people who are young, old, or have compromised immune systems.
Visit a doctor if you have:
- persistent sinus and nasal congestion
- frequent headaches
- unexplained skin irritation
- more frequent asthma attacks
Sometimes, it can be difficult to know if mold is causing your symptoms. Many side effects of mold exposure are similar to other conditions, like seasonal allergies. Some symptoms also take time to appear.
Your best bet is to see a doctor, even if youre unsure your symptoms are related to mold. They can help you find relief.
The best way to treat mold exposure symptoms is to reduce exposure. Follow these tips:
- Avoid contact with moldy items or surfaces.
- Avoid damp rooms, like basements.
- Remove mold from the home by cleaning surfaces and drying damp areas.
- Increase ventilation by using a fan or opening windows.
- Reduce indoor humidity with a dehumidifier.
The length of time it takes for mold to leave your body will depend on your level of previous exposure.
- a musty, earthy odor
Can Black Mold Spores Travel In The Air
Yes. Mold spores are airborne and can attach themselves to peoples skin, clothing, shoes, shopping bags, furniture, carpets, and even pets. Once spores enter your home, they can settle onto any surface and start to multiply. They can also enter your house through open doorways, open windows, and HVAC systems.
Mold spores are microscopic and are virtually found everywhere. They are naturally found in the air we breathe, both indoors and outdoors. Since spores are tiny and lightweight, they become airborne easily, every time we vacuum or walk on the carpets or even sit on our couch.
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Myths About Black Mold
Its important to address myths some people may have about black mold. One common rumor is that black mold releases toxic compounds called mycotoxins that cause health issues, like memory loss, headaches, and infant pulmonary hemorrhage.
But according to a review from 2017, theres no evidence that exposure to black mold causes particular health conditions.
Furthermore, while a variety of molds produce mycotoxins, these compounds are primarily dangerous for humans only when eaten in significant quantities.
A 2019 review of research into this topic states theres currently no evidence that mycotoxins in the air cause disease.
What Are Some Physical Symptoms Of Mold Exposure
The extent of symptoms depends on ones sensitivity. A wide variety of reactions are attributed to the toxic effects of mold, including:
- Chronic clogged throat
- Persistent cold-like or flu-like symptoms
- Burning, itching, watering eyes
- Serious swelling of legs, ankles, and feet
- Serious swelling in the torso or stomach
- Prolonged muscle cramps and joint pain
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Can Black Mold Cause Respiratory Problems
In a residential setting, people are generally exposed to black mold through breathing in mold spores and mycotoxins. When ingested, mold spores have the potential to cause irritation and a burning sensation in air passages, such as the nasal cavity, mouth, and throat.
Some common symptoms for respiratory issues from black mold exposure include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Runny, itchy, or stuffy nose
- Bleeding gums
- Burning sensation of the mouth
- Bleeding or swelling in the lungs
How To Get Rid Of Mold
There are plenty of DIY mold removal options for you on the web some more effective than others. These may suffice if the problem is minor. After DIY treatment, it may be good to have an air quality test taken to determine the effectiveness of your work.
If the problem is more than minor, DIY methods will likely only remove the appearance of mold for a short time. If the problem is more serious, the best approach is to hire a certified and reputable local mold remediation company.
Most mold remediation companies will recommend demolition of the infected part of your home to get rid of mold, so keep in mind that you might have additional expenses to restore a portion of your house. Besides that, the process might take several days.
If you are looking into demolition-free mold removal, then look into the companies that use a dry fog technique. When properly done, this method not only kills mold without demolition to your home, but it also takes less than a day to complete.
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