Mold is a more common problem than you think. Just because you’ve checked all the obvious places (the shower, under the sink, the basement) and haven’t found any, it doesn’t mean that the sneaky little fungus isn’t hiding somewhere less conspicuous. Mold can be found inside the drywall, in the roof (if there are leaks), or even in the Christmas tree. According to one study, Christmas trees can develop mold, releasing thousands of spores in your home, and potentially causing allergies and asthma attacks.
Since it’s omnipresent and not always easily detectable, we need to be constantly on our guard. Mold is not merely an aesthetic problem, it can also be very dangerous for your health. The Surviving Mold website states that mold is composed of biotoxins that the body is unable to process. So once they’re inside the system, they cause all sorts of damage. Exposure to the fungus can lead to a wide array of medical problems, not the least of which are flu-like symptoms, skin infections, and even pneumonia.
Mold illness is very difficult to diagnose because most of its symptoms can be disregarded or mistaken to mean other kinds of allergies. Some molds do cause allergies, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. However, you must not assume that your sneezing or coughing is to be overlooked, especially if it persists over a longer period of time. In this case, you need to consult a doctor in order to avoid possible complications from the illness.
Minnesota-based nonprofit medical research group Mayo Clinic outlines the 10 most common symptoms of mold illness. Take a look at this list, courtesy of RemedyDaily, and act quickly if you notice their presence.
Mold can irritate your nose and throat, causing allergy-like symptoms like sneezing.
2. Runny or stuffy nose
Both a runny and a stuffy nose can be signs of mold illness. Your immune system is creating an increased amount of mucus to defend your body from the intrusion of the mold spores.
Inhaling the spores irritates the lining of your throat and causes coughing. Prolonged exposure to the fungus can damage your respiratory system and lead to inflammation of the lungs, bronchitis, or pneumonia.
4. Itchy eyes, nose, and throat
When you come in contact with an allergen, such as pollen or mold, the immune system starts producing histamine. This chemical’s purpose is to rid your body of whatever is bothering it, i.e. the cause of the allergy. However, one of its side effects is itchiness in your eyes, nose, and throat.
5. Watery eyes
Another side effect of histamine is watery eyes. Your body is trying to get push the allergens out by making your eyes water.
6. Dry, scaly skin
Mold allergies can make your immune system overreact, leading to inflamed or irritated skin. In some cases, it can even cause the appearance of hives.
This is one of the most common mold illness symptoms. Inhaling the microscopic spores irritates and inflames the lining of the throat, bronchial tubes, and lungs, restricting your airflow and causing wheezing.
8. Shortness of breath
The restricted airflow also leads to shortness of breath. Mold can be especially dangerous for people who suffer from asthma, as it is known to cause full-blown asthma attacks.
9. Chest tightness
Another symptom of mold illness can be chest pain. It’s different with different people: it could be either tightness or pressure in your chest, sometimes severe, other times just uncomfortable.
10. Postnasal drip
The larger amounts of mucus created to keep toxins from entering your body can lead to an accumulation of the excess in the throat or the back of the nose, or postnasal drip syndrome.
Reducing the risks of mold illness
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America advises us to take all the precautions we can to avoid exposure to mold. Some of these safety measures are using a dehumidifier, increasing the airflow and reducing the humidity in the bathroom by opening the window, removing the wet clothes from the washing machine as soon as possible, and fixing any leaks immediately.
* This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances.