Generally, the majority of common molds are not a concern to someone who is healthy. However, there are some individuals, especially those who have existing health concerns, who may be sensitive to mold exposure.
<strong>How can molds affect my health?
If you have allergies or asthma, you may experience skin rash and itching, running nose, eye irritation, cough, congestion, and aggravation of asthma. Also, if you have an immune suppression or underlying lung disease, you may be at increased risk for infections from molds
Just because you live in a dry climate, don’t think you’re off the hook. You may experience a reduced incidence of mold growth, but by no means is your environment immune to infestation.
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, and liver damage. Severe reactions may also occur among workers exposed to large amounts of molds in occupational settings, such as farmers working around moldy hay. Such symptoms may disappear when exposure to mold no longer exists. Other health problems may be permanent Some people reportedly have taken extreme measures to combat severe mold reactions. One California family claimed that exposure to mold infestation caused a number of their illnesses, including respiratory problems, nose bleeds and rashes. They burned their home to the ground, believing that it would cost less to simply rebuild than to remove the mold. In Texas, a couple’s 11,500 square – foot home was quarantined after molds were thought to have caused stomach problems, diarrhea, vomiting, severe respiratory scarring, and other illnesses in their son, as well as severe memory loss in the husband, ultimately resulting in his inability to work.
Microbial volatile organic compounds
Substances known as microbial volatile organic compounds (mVOCs) are another source of health problems caused by mold exposure. These compounds are produced by fungal metabolism and are released directly into the air, often giving off strong or unpleasant odors. Exposure to mVOCs from molds can irritate the eyes and respiratory system and cause headaches, dizziness, fatigue, nasal irritation and nausea. It’s important to realize that research in this area is still in the early s tages.
When necessary, some resourceful molds produce toxins in defense again st other molds and bacteria called mycotoxins. Depending on exposure level, these mycotoxins may cause toxic effects in people, also. Some symptoms may include fatigue, nausea, headaches, and respiratory and eye irritation If you or your family members hav e health problems that you suspect are caused by exposure to mold, you should consult with your physician.
Is there a test to determine if I have been exposed to mold?
Some physicians recommend testing for mold -specific antibodies. The presence of antibodies only indicates that you have been exposed to a substance at some time. However, it does not tell you when you were exposed, where the exposure took place, or how much of the mold you were exposed to. Having a positive test for mold -specific antibodies alone is generally not sufficient to prove that any health effects were in fact caused by exposure to mold.
Are there any medical tests available to determine if I am allergic to mold?
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, although skin tests are considered more reliable, yield results more quickly, are less expensive than blood tests and are generally considered more sensitive. Skin testing may be recommended for individuals with year-round symptoms thought to be caused by an indoor allergy.
The RAST (radioallergosorbent) test is a blood test that detects levels of antibodies to particular allergens. The test is expensive to perform, and results are usually not available for about two weeks.
What type of doctor should I see concerning mold exposure?
You should first consult a family or general health care provider who will decide whether you need referral to a specialist. Such specialists might include an allergist who treats patients with mold allergies or an infectious disease physician who treats mold infections. If an infection is in the lungs, a pulmonary physician might be recommended. Patients who have been exposed to molds in their workplace may be referred to an occupational physician