Exposure to mold can be dangerous. If you are only exposed for a short amount of time, you may be fine. However, if there is mold in your house, you could suffer from serious consequences. Today, our medical experts at Medical Transformation Center in Louisville, KY are discussing the symptoms of mold exposure, how to mitigate the risk of future exposure, and more.
What Are the Symptoms of Mold Exposure?
The signs of mold exposure are similar to the symptoms of exposure to other forms of respiratory allergies. While symptoms vary from person to person, some of the most common symptoms of exposure to mold include:
- Watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Stuffy nose
- Wet cough
- Postnasal drip
- Dry skin
- Scaly skin
- Itchy eyes
- Sore throat
- Itchy nose
Note, it is not uncommon for the symptoms to worsen over time, particularly when the mold is in your home and moisture in the air is high. This is because mold grows prolifically when the air is moist. Also, symptoms tend to go from mild to moderate to severe because the longer you are exposed to mold, the more likely you are to have your health severely affected by the exposure.
What Medical Conditions Can Exposure to Mold Cause?
If you’re allergic to mold, you may not only experience respiratory allergy symptoms when you are exposed to mold. You may also experience an asthma flare-up if you breathe in mold spores. Even if it has been a while since you have had an asthma flare-up, it is very important that you keep fast-acting medication on hand so you are prepared in the event of an asthma flareup. Also, consider taking a long-term controller to mitigate your risk of an attack.
Even if you are only experiencing mild or moderate allergy symptoms in response to exposure to mold, it is important that you have the mold found and removed as soon as possible.
Prolonged exposure to mold can lead to hypersensitivity pneumonitis, a very serious medical condition that causes severe lung inflammation. However, lung inflammation can also be caused by inhaling dust, so you should consider getting a professional to search your home for mold. Symptoms of this condition vary, but usually include:
- Chronic cough
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid weight loss
Allergic Fungal Sinusitis
Allergic fungal sinusitis is another common inflammatory response to inhaling mold spores. However, instead of resulting in lung inflammation, it causes inflammation of the sinuses. Symptoms of this condition include coughing, wheezing, tightness in the chest, thick brown or yellow nasal drainage, pain or pressure affecting only one side of the face, difficulty breathing, and nasal congestion affecting one side of the nose.
You may also experience occasional discharge of brown or green fragments from one nasal passage. If you are experiencing any of the signs of allergic fungal sinusitis, it is important to seek medical counsel right away. This difficulty breathing can affect your quality of sleep which can further affect your health.
Allergic Bronchopulmonary Aspergillosis
You also may develop allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis if you are exposed to mold for too long. However, this medical condition isn’t as common as other potential medical conditions, like hypersensitivity pneumonitis. Only people who suffer from asthma or cystic fibrosis are at risk of developing this condition in response to prolonged mold spore exposure. Symptoms of this condition include:
- Wet cough
- Difficulty breathing
How Can I Mitigate the Risk of Exposure in the Future?
If you are suffering from the symptoms of mold exposure, the mold needs to be removed. However, this may not be a permanent solution. There is a chance that more mold could grow. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to decrease the likelihood that mold will grow in your home in the future.
Buy a Dehumidifier
If you find mold in your home, you should strongly consider buying a dehumidifier once it has been removed. The higher the humidity in your home is, the more likely you are to grow mold in your home. It is highly advisable to have no more than 50% humidity in your home to prevent future mold growth. Keep in mind, mold can grow just about anywhere there is a lot of moisture. Common places that experience mold growth include:
- Carpet pads
- Framing inside walls
Check Your Pipes Regularly
Even if you manage to keep the humidity in your home below 50%, mold growth can still occur. It is important to check your pipes every once in a while to ensure that there is no leak that may be increasing the moisture in your floor and causing mold growth in your kitchen, bathroom, or laundry room. Also, be aware that flooding after a rainstorm can increase the moisture in your floors or walls to the point that mold growth occurs.
Check Your Ventilation
You should also periodically check your ventilation to reduce the chance that moisture is trapped in your home. Mold growth can occur if you have extremely tight door and window seals and a lack of proper ventilation to get the moisture out of the home.
Sometimes, exposure to mold does not occur in the home. In some cases, mold exposure occurs at work. Mold can grow in any office, but there are some occupations that are more likely to lead to mold exposure. Some of the most common occupations that lead to exposure to mold include:
- Furniture repair
- Dairy work
- Greenhouse work
If you are at an increased risk of being exposed to mold due to your job, you may want to consider changing jobs or wearing an extra mask while working to further reduce the number of mold spores you inhale. Also, you may want to wear gloves in case you accidentally touch mold while working.
Take Care of Your Yard and Roof Regularly
Regular yard maintenance will also help you prevent the growth of new mold. When there are too many leaves close to your house and in your rain gutters, drainage is impeded. While many people have no problem with groundwater drainage because they keep their yard free from leaves, they often forget to make sure their rain gutters are clean.
It is advisable to clean your rain gutters at least every six months. However, you may also want to check your rain gutters after a tornado or hurricane has blown through nearby because windstorms often blow leaves and other debris into gutters, clogging them so they can’t drain water.
Remember carpets and carpet pads are highly susceptible to mold growth. Therefore, you may want to remove any carpet you have in areas that are highly susceptible to mold growth, like the basement, bathroom, or laundry room.
Change Your Air Filters Regularly
Changing the air filters on your air conditioners and furnace quarterly will also mitigate the risk that mold will develop. If you have forced air heating ducts, these should also be inspected and clean at least every three to five years. However, if you find that your air filters are getting dirty sooner than every three months, you may need to have your forced air heating ducts inspected and cleaned more regularly.
Recycle Old Newspapers and Books
Do you have any old newspapers or books stored in your basement that you think you may be interested in revisiting in the future? How many years has it been since you’ve even felt remotely interested in going downstairs and reviewing the old books? If you have any books or newspapers in your basement that you haven’t read in a while, you should strongly consider recycling them.
If the paper gets wet, it can very quickly become moldy. Unfortunately, you may not notice the quickly molding paper if you don’t go down to your basement to look at the books often. If you don’t have a strong filtration system in place, the mold spores that grew on the wet paper can make their way up to your living quarters and make you sick.
Schedule Your Initial Consultation Today
Are you noticing any of the signs of mold exposure, like watery eyes, a sore throat, or a wet cough? If so, there may be mold in your home or office. To eliminate your symptoms, you need to find the source of the mold and have it removed. For treatment in the meantime, contact us today at Medical Transformation Center in Louisville, KY to schedule an initial consultation.