Mold Mayhem: Sneaky Spores in Your Home Could Be Making You Sick

Yeast, fungi, and molds are all different forms of the same organism. Yeast is a solitary cell that reproduces by budding, evolving into fungi. Fungi can occur as yeast or mold (or a combination). In this discussion, mold refers to fungi that grow on food or in moist environments.

There are thousands of known mold species. All require moisture to grow, but unlike other plant life, they do not need sunlight (photosynthesis) to flourish. Instead, they feed on organic material (heterotrophy) and their “digestive” enzymes decompose it.

If you are routinely indoors near a moldy/musty smell, dampness, or obvious mold growth, then you should take note of your health because some molds are known human pathogens.

Symptoms of mold exposure

The symptoms that can occur after exposure to mold spores may include:

  • Nasal and sinus congestion
  • Eye irritation
  • Blurred vision
  • Sore throat
  • Chronic cough
  • Skin rash

Mold-disease associations in humans have been described for centuries. The more dramatic ones are:

  • Ergotism (from Claviceps species): convulsions, spasms, diarrhea, paresthesias, itching, mania, psychosis, headaches, or nausea. Also, you can lose your fingers or toes due to blood vessel constriction, swelling, numbness which then leads to “dry” gangrene.
  • Alimentary toxic aleukia (from the T-2 toxin of Fusarium species): nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, leukopenia (low white blood cell count), hemorrhaging, skin inflammation, and sometimes death.
  • Liver disease mortality (from Aspergillus): people with severe liver disease are at high risk for invasive Aspergillus infections, which had a 72 percent mortality rate in one study.

Aspergillus, Cladosporium, and Stachybotrys Chartarum (also known as black mold) are the most common mold types you should be aware of.

The black mold is particularly notable not only because it is quite commonly found in damp buildings but also because it can release spores while it feeds on organic materials in drywall, carpet, insulation, or even sub-flooring. These spores can cause serious long-standing symptoms if ingested or inhaled. The more common symptoms are coughing, sneezing, eye irritation, rashes, and headaches.

Serious long-standing symptoms from mold exposure

In a study of 112 patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, mold toxins were tested in their urine. The results found that 93% of the patients were positive for at least one of three mycotoxins: aflatoxins, ochratoxin A, and macrocyclic trichothecenes. Ochratoxin A was the most prevalent mycotoxin detected, in 83 percent of subjects. Furthermore, 90% of these people indicated they were in a water-damaged building (currently or at some previous point).

While there are no tests that can directly link symptoms to black mold exposure, mycotoxin tests do not correlate well. Reliable mold sampling can be expensive, and acceptable safe mold quantity has not been established. It is best to focus on eliminating mold from your environment, and treat symptoms the best way possible under your doctor’s care.

How to get rid of mold

To start, look for any dampness in your home that can create an environment for mold growth. Check dark corners, basements, bathrooms, and anywhere that moisture may be present. If you spot any visible growth, it is best to take immediate action to remove the mold.

Here are a few ways to combat mold growth in your home:

  • Keep the humidity inside as low as possible.
  • Ensure proper ventilation in your home.
  • Use exhaust fans and open windows when cooking, showering, and cleaning.
  • Dry any wet areas immediately to prevent mold growth.
  • Add mold inhibitors to paint before applying.
  • Clean bathrooms with mold-killing products.
  • Place a dehumidifier in rooms prone to high humidity levels.

If mold has already infiltrated your home, removing it can be a difficult task. It is essential to have the right gear, wear protective clothing, goggles, and a mask. Use non-toxic cleaning solutions such as vinegar, baking soda, or tea tree oil as they are not harmful to your health and pose no threat after removal.

If the mold growth is extensive, it may be best to consult with a mold remediation specialist to ensure the job is done safely and effectively. Even after addressing the mold issue, be sure to keep an eye on those areas to prevent future growth. Keep your spaces clean, dry, and well-ventilated to maintain a healthy environment.

Treating mold-related illnesses

The best approach to addressing mold-related illnesses starts with visiting your doctor and discussing your symptoms. Your doctor can help determine the cause of your symptoms and recommend treatment options such as medications, supplements, or lifestyle changes depending on the severity of the illness.

In addition to medical treatment, some natural remedies can aid in boosting your immune system and help your body detoxify from mold exposure:

  • Vitamin C: A powerful antioxidant essential for proper immune function.
  • Milk thistle: Supports liver detoxification processes.
  • Activated charcoal: Helps bind toxins for easier elimination.
  • Glutathione: A powerful antioxidant that can support your body’s natural detoxification processes.

Always discuss these options with your doctor before incorporating any supplement or natural remedy into your treatment plan.

In conclusion, mold exposure can lead to various health issues, and the key to preventing these issues lies in early detection and quick action to remove the mold. If you suspect mold exposure is affecting your health, it is essential to consult with your doctor and take the necessary steps to treat your symptoms and eliminate the mold from your environment.