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Mold Info
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How Can Mold Affect My Health

Many molds can cause health effects. Molds produce allergens, irritants and sometimes toxins that may cause adverse reactions in humans. A reaction to mold depends on how much a person is exposed, the age of the person and the person’s sensitivities or allergies. The same amount of mold may cause health effects in one person, but not in another. Some people, such as those with serious allergies to molds, may have more severe reactions. Severe reactions may occur among workers exposed to large amounts of molds in occupational settings. Exposure to mold can cause a variety of symptoms. Sensitive people who have touched or inhaled mold or mold spores may have allergic reactions such as a runny nose, sneezing, nasal congestion, watery eyes, skin rash and itching (dermatitis). Molds can trigger asthma attacks in people who are allergic to molds, causing wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath.

Severe reactions may include fever and shortness of breath. Some people with chronic lung illnesses, such as obstructive lung disease, may develop mold infections in their lungs. A disease like pneumonia may also develop after exposure to mold, but this is uncommon. Some researches believe more serious effects may result from mold exposure, including fever, flu-like symptoms, fatigue, respiratory dysfunction (including coughing-up blood), frequent and excessive nose bleeds, dizziness, headaches, diarrhea, vomiting, body aches and pains. Memory problems and mood swings are sometimes reported in mold complaints. All the causes of these physical symptoms are not yet understood. Some symptoms may disappear when exposure to mold no longer exists. Other health problems may be permanent.

Infectious diseases from molds can occur in people with weakened immune systems, such as those who are immune-compromised or immune-suppressed from drug treatment. Also people with chronic illnesses may be more likely to get infections. Such infections can affect the skin, eyes, lungs or other organs. These are considered opportunistic infections that usually do not affect healthy people.

Other metabolites, called mycotoxins, are potent substances produced by some molds. People can be exposed to mycotoxins through inhalation, ingestion or skin contact. Many molds, including species commonly found indoors, are capable of producing mycotoxins. The existence or identification of a toxin-producing mold indoors does not mean that building occupants have been exposed to mycotoxins or that they are even present, since molds do not produce them under all conditions. Mycotoxins can cause a variety of adverse health effects, but more research is needed to determine the health risks posed by mycotoxins in indoor environments. However, it is clearly advisable to avoid exposure to mold and mycotoxins.

There are medical tests to determine if you are allergic to a particular substance, such as mold. These can be performed on skin or blood. Skin tests are considered more reliable than blood tests to determine allergic reaction to a substance. Skin tests yield results more quickly, are less expensive than blood tests and are generally considered more sensitive. If an individual has symptoms year-round, which may indicate an indoor allergy, skin testing may be recommended. Blood testing called the RAST (radioallergosorbent) test can be done to show if you are allergic to a substance. The RAST test detects levels of antibodies to particular allergens. The test is expensive to perform and results are usually not available for about two weeks. People who know they have been exposed to mold and have symptoms that persist should consult their physicians for possible treatment and testing.

The toxic effects of certain molds are not well understood, and are currently a controversial topic in the medical and scientific community. There is evidence of specific long-term toxic effects from eating foods with mold toxins. Unfortunately, very little is known regarding the actual health risks from breathing in or skin contact with mold toxins. Allergic disease is now considered the most likely health problem related to mold exposures. Research into the possible health effects related to mold exposure continues today.

 

 

 


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