Of all the potential problems that can occur within a home, mold growth is one of the biggest concerns because it can cause property damage and lead to many different health problems for you and your family. Mold growth often occurs as a result of water damage or high humidity and its spores travel through the air and attach to new surfaces to foster growth. Breathing in the mold spores is what causes adverse health effects so it is important to have any mold growth removed before it can spread. The following is a discussion of the most common mild and severe health effects from mold exposure.
Allergic Reactions from Mold Exposure
The most common health effects from mold exposure are allergic reactions. For the most part, mild mold exposure is not a big cause for concern except in individuals pre-disposed to allergies, but prolonged exposure can cause allergic reactions in healthy people. These allergic reactions commonly include sneezing, coughing, runny noses, wheezing, skin irritation, and tearing and redness of the eyes. Mold exposure can also trigger asthma attacks in those that have asthma and cause their symptoms to worsen.
While it is typically more common for these symptoms to occur in people with a predisposition to them, a 2004 study by the Institute of Medicine showed a connection between mold exposure and upper respiratory tract symptoms in people that are otherwise healthy. Therefore it is important to remove any mold growth that you find because prolonged exposure can affect healthy people as well as those with allergies.
Severe Reactions from Mold Exposure
In some cases, allergic reactions to mold can become more severe but this is usually a rare occurrence. These symptoms may include fever, difficulty breathing, flu-like symptoms, fatigue, dizziness, headaches, diarrhea, and vomiting among others. Severe reactions most commonly occur in people with prolonged exposure or who routinely work near a source of mold.
Infections from Mold Exposure
If the allergic reactions or mold exposure are allowed to persist, then they could lead to full blown infections. There are two types of infections that can occur from mold; serious fungal infections and superficial fungal infections.
Serious Fungal Infections
Serious fungal infections are caused by pathogenic fungi that include Blastomyces, Coccidioides, Cryptococcus, and Histoplasma. These pathogens can infect perfectly healthy people and trigger a fatal disease but the infections that involve deep tissue invasions typically only affect people with compromised immune systems. If you or someone you know is in an immune-compromised state, you should take extra precaution to avoid mold exposure.
Superficial Fungal Infections
Superficial fungal infections are infections of the skin or mucosal surfaces and they commonly occur in healthy people as well as those with compromised immune systems. These types of infections can affect the feet (tinea pedis), nails (tinea onychornycosis), groin (tinea cruris), skin (tinea corporis), and mucosal surfaces. The most common organism that causes superficial fungal infections is Trichopython rubrum which is found on indoor mold.
The best way to avoid allergic reactions and serious or superficial fungal infections from mold growth is to prevent mold exposure which is why it is important to consult a mold remediation professional as soon as you discover mold in your home. Short term, mild mold exposure has a very low risk of causing adverse health effects but this risk increases the longer the exposure, even in healthy people. By ensuring that your home is mold free, you are not only saving your home from potential property damage, but you are also saving yourself and your family from mold related allergic reactions or infections.