Do You Have Mold?
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Can mold cause health problems?
Molds are usually not a problem indoors, unless mold spores land on a wet or damp spot and begin growing. Molds have the potential to cause health problems. Molds produce allergens, irritants, and in some cases, potentially toxic substances.
Allergic reactions to mold are common and include hay fever-type symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash. Molds can also cause asthma attacks in people with asthma who are allergic to mold. The most common health problems caused by indoor mold are allergy symptoms. Although other and more serious problems can occur, people exposed to mold commonly report problems such as:
- Nasal and sinus congestion
- Cough Wheeze/breathing difficulties
- Sore throat
- Skin and eye irritation
- Upper respiratory infections (including sinus)
Are the risks greater for some people?
There is wide variability in how different people are affected by indoor mold. However, the long term presence of indoor mold growth may eventually become unhealthy for anyone. The following types of people may be affected more severely and sooner than others:
- Infants and children
- Elderly people
- Individuals with respiratory conditions or sensitivities such as allergies and asthma
- Persons having weakened immune systems (for example, people with HIV infection, chemotherapy patients, organ transplant recipients)
In some individuals, exposure to indoor mold can also can lead to asthma or to a lung disease resembling severe inflammatory asthma called allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis. This latter condition, which occurs only in a minority of people with asthma, is characterized by wheezing, low-grade fever, and coughing up of brown-flecked masses or mucus plugs. Skin testing, blood tests, X-rays, and examination of the sputum for fungi can help establish the diagnosis. Corticosteroid drugs are usually effective in treating this reaction; immunotherapy (allergy shots) is not helpful.
Fungi or microorganisms related to mold / fungi may cause other health problems similar to allergic diseases. Some kinds of Aspergillus may cause several different illnesses, including both infections and allergy. These fungi may lodge in the airways or a distant part of the lung and grow until they form a compact sphere known as a "fungus ball." In people with lung damage or serious underlying illnesses, Aspergillus may grasp the opportunity to invade the lungs or the whole body.
Those with special health concerns should consult a medical professional if they feel their health is affected by indoor mold.