Mold exposure can be seriously detrimental to your health. And unfortunately, not everyone who lives in a home with mold knows about it. When mold exposure symptoms become severe, they can become life-threatening, which is why we’ve outlined some of the most common symptoms you need to know.
So, how can you tell if you’re exposed to mold? Your nose knows what’s up, and may be able to clue you in on the following potential problems…
1. A Stuffy or Runny Nose
This symptom usually occurs as a result of prolonged mold exposure. You might start out with a runny nose that turns stuffy. However, if you’re living somewhere with a large amount of mold, the runny or stuffy nose often won’t go away when normal cold symptoms would. After all, you’re continually breathing in the mold.
The reason as to why mold causes stuffy and/or runny nose is similar to the reason why pollen season causes these same symptoms. In other words, like pollen, mold is a common allergen. So, it has the potential to cause typical allergic symptoms, such as runny or stuffy noses.
Just as seasonal allergies tend to cause a range of symptoms, a reaction to mold can including the following…
Any allergen can cause upper respiratory infections or symptoms of respiratory irritation, and mold is no exception. It should therefore come as no surprise that coughing is a common reaction to mold, especially for those with heightened sensitivities.
Severe reactions to mold—usually due to allergies or asthma—means this symptom may progress to a bronchitis-like cough. This cough may become productive, meaning that it brings up mucus from the bronchi.
Unfortunately, the following symptom only makes getting air much harder…
3. Shortness of Breath
Any environmental irritant can cause shortness of breath or trouble breathing, and mold is no different. Those who are extra sensitive to mold or have COPD or other recurring respiratory issues might be more prone to this particular symptom.
This symptom may present as a tightness in the chest. As a result, people may become dizzy or panicky.
Mold’s effects aren’t just limited to the respiratory system, as the next few symptoms show…
4. Skin Rashes or Itchiness
Many people are surprised to learn that mold may trigger skin problems, such as rashes, raised bumps, and recurrent, flaring itchy spots.
It’s especially important that people with this symptom don’t remove mold themselves. After all, being in close proximity to mold can aggravate itchy skin.
The following symptom of mold? It might come as a surprise…
5. Itchy or Watery Eyes
This symptom feels like the itchy and watery eyes you might get during allergy season. Ultimately, though, if it’s caused by mold, it’s unlikely to go away completely until the mold has been dealt with.
Like many mold symptoms, itchy and watery eyes happen if you have an allergy to mold. Specifically, with an allergy, the body releases histamines, which can cause itchiness and watery eyes (among other allergy symptoms).
While itchy and watery eyes are mostly just annoying, the following sign of mold exposure needs to be taken seriously…
Getting a fever in response to mold exposure is fairly uncommon; it tends to develop in people with asthma or very severe mold sensitivity. That means if you have a fever along with other symptoms of exposure, it’s especially important to stay away from the mold source until professionals handle the situation.
While a fever is an uncommon reaction to mold, that cannot be said of the following…
If you’re exposed to certain bacteria, viruses, or allergens, sinuses can become irritated and inflamed. This inflammation can increase mucus production, which is often responsible for the painful sensation of pressure you get with a sinus infection.
Prolonged exposure to mold spores is more likely to result in sinusitis. Normally, if sinusitis is caused by bacteria or a virus, it will clear on its own. However, if mold exposure is severe and prolonged, it may be difficult for your body to clear the inflammation, meaning sinusitis can persist.
Unfortunately, persistent exposure to mold can result in the following symptom, too…
When fatigue, a condition that results in excessive tiredness, occurs as a result of mold exposure, it’s usually secondary to a respiratory infection. In other words, fatigue is not a direct result of the mold but rather the infections or other symptoms caused by the mold.
This occurs because your body expends a lot of energy fighting off mold spores. When this process occurs, the following symptom may also develop…
Just like fatigue, headaches on their own aren’t usually indicative of mold exposure. However, if you experience them and other symptoms on the list, your headaches may well be the result of mold exposure.
Furthermore, mold exposure headaches are usually secondary to other mold symptoms, including cough, fatigue, poor sleep, or sinusitis.
The following is a severe complication that can occur in those with weakened immune systems…
10. Fungal Infections
In some cases, mold exposure can overpower the immune system and result in serious fungal infections, which mainly develop in people with suppressed immune systems.
The body usually fights off inhaled fungal and mold spores before they can cause a widespread infection. But for people with compromised immune systems, an infection may result. This type of symptom is very severe, which means it requires immediate medical attention.
What should someone who thinks they’ve been exposed to mold do?…
Seek Professional Help Right Away
While mold exposure poses a health risk to everyone, exposure symptoms are likely to be much worse in those with asthma, mold allergies, and compromised immune systems.
If you notice the symptoms above (and if they last longer than a typical illness would), it’s wise to contact a mold remediation professional. Qualified professionals can test home air quality to identify any mold species present. If any mold is detected, these professionals can then work to remove any mold and take steps to prevent it from coming back.
Please note: It’s almost never a good idea to clean up mold on your own.