When you aren’t feeling well, you usually assume it’s an allergy, cold, or the flu. However, that’s not always the case. In fact, we will share research that reveals how many times when symptoms don’t go away, it’s because of a mold allergy.
Mold can cause serious health problems when it’s in your living or workplace. Mold is more likely to occur in climates with a lot of humidity or rain because it is the moisture that makes a great growing environment for mold.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends drying any wet areas within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth. In addition to health problems, mold can destroy the surface that it grows on by deteriorating it as it might decompose if it was in a landfill left exposed to the elements. This goes for walls, flooring, ceilings, furniture, etc.
In your body, mold spores are most commonly inhaled. Mold grows by releasing spores. These are too small to be seen by the naked eye, so we, unfortunately, inhale them into our lungs.
We can also come into contact with mold through our skin. For example, you may touch a surface with unseen mold on it and then later touch your face or an open sore where the mold can get inside your body. Mold can also be in our food.
Once inside the body, mold causes health problems and can look like an illness.
What is mold?
Mold are tiny organisms due to the breakdown of animal and plant matter. Molds grow in damp, dark areas where plants and leaves are decomposing. Inside, mold will grow on any surface in your home where there is sufficient oxygen, moisture, or organic matter. Mold releases tiny spores in the air. You’re exposed to mold at work, school, work, and even outdoors. Mold is more common in humid climates because it grows so well in moist conditions.
The most common types of mold include the following:
- Stachybotrys chatarum is also called black mold.
Besides breathing in mold, you can also come into contact with mold through your skin. For example, if you touch a surface that has mold on it, then touch your face or an open sore where the mold can get inside your body.
Foods that contain mold
You also come in contact with mold in some foods. Here is a list of the most common foods that contain mold.
A yeast called saccharomyces, or brewer’s yeast, is a fungus used to make beer. It makes mycotoxins other mold type fruits or grains. White wine has less mold than red wine. If you have mold sensitivity, it may be best to avoid your favorite beverage at the sports bar.
Peanuts are legumes grown in the soil underground, so they’re more susceptible to moisture and growing mold. The peanut shells can harbor molds and even a carcinogen that is harmful to humans. Consequently, most peanuts are sterilized before they are sold in the shell.
Although coffee is a healthy energy drink we all love, there can be toxic fungus hiding in some coffees. Be sure to choose a name brand coffee that tests for myotoxicity in the beans.
Other foods that contain some mold include:
- Sugar from sugar cane
- Hard cheeses
Most of the time, you don’t get sick from being exposed to mold in the air or foods, but sometimes it can cause health problems. One study found that if you’re exposed to mold during the first year of your life, you are at risk for developing asthma later in life.
7 Signs Mold Is Causing an Illness
After contact with mold, some people, especially those with chronic respiratory disease, can significantly react to molds. Here is a list of seven signs that you have a mold illness making you sick.
1. Muscle aches or pain not due to strain
Unexplained muscle aches and pains that aren’t due to strenuous activity is one sign of a mold illness. Muscle pain can be anywhere in the body, while some people experience sharp, intense pinprick pains along with muscle aches.
2. Twitching, tingling, or numbness
A sensation similar to the pins and needles you have when your hand falls asleep is the same tingling sensation people suffering experience from a mold illness. Mold spores get onto your skin and start to colonize. Some spores can seep into your skin, causing a rash or itchy red bumps along with a weird tingling sensation on your skin. Treatments include prescription strength, anti-fungal creams, or lotions to kill the mold invaders.
3. Being in a depressed mood
Mold in your home can affect you neurologically. There is a definite connection between home dampness, mold, and symptoms of depression. You may experience unusual mood swings or irritations mixed with feelings of elations. This is due in part because the mold interferes with your brain function. No doubt, some moodiness is from the stress of owning a home that is making you sick.
Researchers studying mold-related illnesses found that damp homes also impact the people living in them and their mood. Again, they proved there was a definite connection between home dampness, mold, and symptoms of depression. Mental illness and the connection to less-than-ideal living conditions is not surprising.
Psychological stress is normal when you have little control over your home environment and have poor indoor air quality that can affect your health. Take control of the stress by reducing moisture sources in the home, adding house plants to clean the air, and running a fan to keep air circulating.
4. Digestive problems
A loss of appetite, diarrhea, or stomach pains are symptoms common to a mold illness. If your body isn’t removing the mold from your digestive system, the spores spread, causing a mass invasion of your gut. People have reported digestive issues such as
- Foul-smelling stools
Left untreated, the mold spores can cause an infection in your liver and cause toxins to enter your bloodstream. This is a life-threatening condition. So, see your doctor if you suspect you have a liver problem due to mold.
5. Breathing problems
Some of the most commonly reported signs of a mold illness are difficulties with breathing. In a recent review of mold and medical illnesses, researchers named some respiratory diseases that are associated with mold exposure, which include
- Allergic rhinitis
- Allergic bronchopulmonary
- Hypersensitivity pneumonitis
Having a hard time breathing, coughing, wheezing, or sinus problems can all be due to mold illnesses. Consult a medical professional if you have a concern about your potential mold exposure.
6. Sensitive eyes and headaches
Redness in your eyes, itchiness, or blurry vision may be related to mold illnesses. Some people are sensitive to mold more than others. This causes their immune system to overreact, which in turn causes an allergic reaction.
If your symptoms are similar to hay fever or seasonal allergies and are accompanied by a headache and other symptoms of a mold illness, seek medical attention, and explain those concerns to your practitioner.
7. Less common signs of mold illness
Some of the more unusual symptoms or signs of a mold illness include
- Shaking or dizziness
- Prone to infections such as UTI
- Metallic taste in your mouth
- Chronic fatigue
- Brain fog
- Bacterial pneumonia
- Chronic cough
- Blurred vision
If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your doctor. They will do a blood test to see if you have a mold allergy.
What can you do to get rid of mold in your home?
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), you can prevent or get rid of mold in your house by doing these things.
Keep your house clean and dry.
Fix all water leaks or areas where moisture has crept inside immediately. Don’t wait until you smell mold. By then, it’s too late. You can immediately call a mold remediation team to help you get rid of the mold in your home.
Lots of ventilation
Keep your AC or heat on and set to low. Turn on your AC fan to circulate fresh air throughout your home all year round. If it’s rainy or hot and humid outside, don’t open the windows. Moisture from the humidity will get into your furniture, carpeting, and even the wood in your house.
Set plants around to clean the air
Plants remove toxins from the atmosphere in your home. The best plants to purify the air in your home include
- Rubber plants
- Boston ferns
- Date palm
- Peace Lily
- Spider plants
Keep humidity low
Purchase a portable dehumidifier to remove any moisture in the air in rooms that are more prone to molds, such as the kitchen or bathrooms.
Don’t put carpeting in your basement, kitchen, or bathrooms.
The carpeting in these rooms will get damp and grow mold easier. Most houses are trending away from carpeting in these rooms, but many older homes still have carpeting.
Other tips from our friends who work in mold removal provide advice to keep your home mold-free include :
- Add ventilation from an exhaust fan.
- Have a regular circulating fan on all the time
- Open your window to let a breeze in on dry weather days.
- Frequently clean areas that are more susceptible to molds like the shower or the bathtub
- Skip toxic chemical cleansers and clean mildew (not mold) with white vinegar. Just spray undiluted vinegar onto the impacted area. You do not need to rinse it.
- Wear a face mask if you are cleaning small areas of mildew.
- Certain types of mold require professional cleaning. Never try to clean black mold yourself–you can cause your illness to worsen.
Final thoughts on coping with a mold illness
Mold is something everyone lives with. It’s in your backyard, your house, and even in your food. Most of the mold you come in contact with is harmless and doesn’t cause health problems. But sometimes, you can end up with a severe mold allergy that causes symptoms. Keeping your house free from mold is a priority. IF you have a water leak, then fix it immediately. Provide good air ventilation in your house with fans and open windows on dry weather days.
Add lots of air-purifying plants around your home, especially in the rooms where dampness creeps in, like the kitchen or bathroom. Mold is here to stay, so learning to eliminate it or reduce its growth is the best option to combat a mold illness.