It’s important to look out for the 10 warning signs of mold toxicity because its exposure can have serious implications for your health. Keep reading to learn more about its harmful effects and what you can do to protect yourself.
Exposure to mold may lead to various health complications, such as respiratory problems, skin irritation, and allergies. Owing to similarities between mold toxicity symptoms and those of other illnesses, it can be difficult to identify the root cause of the problem. However, to make it easier for you, here are the top signs of mold toxicity:
- Fatigue and weakness
- Chronic coughing and wheezing
- Headaches and migraines
- Memory loss and difficulty concentrating
- Skin irritation and rashes
Continue reading to find out more about the 10 warning signs of mold toxicity and how to protect yourself and your family from its harmful effects.
What Are Molds?
Mold is a fungus that grows in multicellular filaments known as hyphae. These hyphae can grow on various surfaces, including:
- Organic matter: wood, paper, or fabric.
- Inorganic materials: metal and plastic.
Molds can also be found indoors and outdoors, but most thrive in warm, damp, and humid environments. Keep reading to find out the most common types of mold and how exposure to them can affect you.
Common Types of Mold
There are many different types of molds, but some of the most common are in the table below.
Type of Mold
Places Commonly Found
Indoors and outdoors areas such as in the pantry, attic and walls
Green, yellow, white, brown or black
Damp areas, basements, bathrooms and heating outlets
Green, brown, gray, or black
Water-damaged buildings, basements and sinks
Blue, green, white, or yellow
Water-damaged materials with high cellulose content, e.g., drywall and wood
Damp areas, showers, sinks and windows
White with dark green or brown spots
Soil, plants, water-damaged buildings
Red, pink, or white
Green or white
Painted walls, wooden surfaces
Pink or black
So, since black mold is so common, the question we should ask ourselves is this, is black mold dangerous? Let’s find out below.
Black vs. Toxic Black Mold
Black mold and toxic black mold are often confused with each other, but they are two distinct things. Black mold refers to a group of molds that are commonly found in homes and buildings, while toxic black mold specifically refers to the species Stachybotrys chartarum, which can produce harmful mycotoxins.
Prolonged exposure to black molds can result in health issues, particularly for those with respiratory problems or mold allergies. Its symptoms include:
- Eye irritation
Toxic black molds, on the other hand, are considered more dangerous. They can produce mycotoxins that can lead to more serious health problems such as:
- Chronic fatigue
- Respiratory complications
- Mold allergy
- Weakened immune system
How Can You Know That Mold Toxicity Is Killing You
If you suspect that you have been exposed to toxic molds, it’s essential to seek medical advice or seek alternative medicine to prevent any further harm to your immune and inflammatory response.
However, to know that mold toxicity is probably killing you in the first place, you must experience some mild symptoms. Continue reading to learn about all the symptoms of mold toxicity.
1. Respiratory Problems
One of the signs that mold toxicity may be affecting your health is the development of respiratory problems, such as chronic coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing. These symptoms can be particularly concerning for individuals with pre-existing respiratory conditions and weak immune systems.
2. Neurological Symptoms
In addition to respiratory problems, mold toxicity can also cause neurological symptoms, such as headaches, dizziness, fatigue, memory loss, and difficulty concentrating. These symptoms can significantly impact your health and way of life.
3. Weakened Immune System
Long exposure to molds is believed to weaken the immune system and make it more susceptible to infections and illnesses. If you have noticed a decrease in your overall health or an increase in the frequency of illnesses, mold toxicity may be the underlying cause.
4. Fatigue and Weakness
Mold toxicity can lead to extreme fatigue and muscle weakness. When you suddenly start experiencing unexplained fatigue, then you probably are exposed to mold.
5. Skin Irritation
Exposure to mold can also cause skin irritation in some people. When mold spores come into contact with the skin, they can cause an allergic reaction, resulting in a range of symptoms, including itching, redness, rashes, and other inflammatory reactions.
6. Digestive System Issues
Mold toxicity can also affect the digestive system, causing nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, or diarrhea. These symptoms can lead to dehydration and other health complications, so it is important to seek medical attention immediately after you start experiencing them.
7. Vision Problems
Mold toxicity also causes vision problems, including blurred vision, eye irritation, redness, itching, and watering eyes.
Common Hiding Spots for Mold in Your Home
It is important to know the places in your home where mold can grow. Regularly checking and cleansing these areas can prevent them from spreading and causing health problems. Some common hiding spots for mold in your home include:
- Basements: Poor ventilation and high humidity make basements perfect for mold growth.
- Bathrooms: The combination of moisture and warm temperatures in bathrooms can create ideal conditions for mold to thrive.
- Kitchens: Water sources such as sinks and dishwashers, as well as high humidity, can make kitchens susceptible to mold.
- Attics: When leaks and poor ventilation occur in attics, it can lead to a buildup of moisture that creates the perfect conditions for mold to grow and spread.
- Crawl spaces: Damp and dark crawl spaces can create favorable conditions for mold to thrive, particularly if there is a lack of ventilation.
- HVAC systems: Moisture and dust buildup in HVAC systems can provide a breeding ground for mold to grow, especially if the system is not regularly maintained.
- Carpets and upholstery: Water damage or high humidity can cause mold to grow on carpets and upholstery.
- Walls and ceilings: Mold can grow behind walls and ceilings in areas that have experienced water damage or in poorly ventilated spaces.
- Windows and window sills: Condensation on windows and window sills can create a moist environment that is conducive to mold growth.
- Plants: Overwatered indoor plants or plants in pots without proper drainage can create conditions ideal for mold to grow on the soil and leaves.
The Symptoms of Mold Exposure
Mold exposure can lead to a wide variety of health issues, ranging from mild to severe. Some common mold toxicity symptoms include:
- Allergic reaction: Runny nose, skin rashes, itchy eyes, and sneezing.
- Flu-like symptoms: Fever, chills, and body aches.
- Respiratory problems: Chronic coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and asthma attacks.
- Neurological symptoms: Headaches, dizziness, fatigue, memory loss, and difficulty concentrating.
- Weakened immune system: Exposure to mold can weaken the immune reaction, making it easier for infections to take hold.
- Fatigue and weakness: Extreme fatigue and muscle pain.
- Skin irritation: Skin rashes, irritation, and inflammatory reaction.
- Digestive system issues: Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
- Vision problems: Blurred vision.
It’s important to note that not everyone is equally susceptible to the effects of long-term exposure to mold. Some people may be more sensitive to mold than others, and the severity of reactions can vary depending on the individual and the extent of exposure.
What Happens if You Eat Mold
Mold can be detrimental to your health, and consuming it can lead to a variety of symptoms, depending on the type and amount of mold ingested. While some types of mold can cause mild reactions such as an upset stomach, diarrhea, or vomiting, others can produce toxic mycotoxins that are potentially deadly and can even affect your nervous system.
Toxic black mold, in particular, can have severe impacts on your health. Here are some signs of black mold toxicity to watch out for:
- Weak immune system
- Extreme fatigue
- Brain fog
- Increased allergy symptoms
Prolonged Exposure to Mold
Furthermore, prolonged exposure to too much mold can lead to more serious health issues such as:
- Hair loss
- Abdominal pain
- Mental illness
- Hormone imbalance
In addition to causing an allergic reaction and inflammatory responses, black mold can also trigger an asthma attack and sinus problems.
12 Foods That Grow Mold Easily
It is important to be aware of the foods that are particularly prone to mold growth and take preventative measures to avoid contamination. Here is a list of 12 such foods that are often susceptible to mold growth:
- Bread – especially white bread
- Soft cheese – like brie, camembert, and blue cheese
- Cured meats – such as salami and prosciutto
- Nuts – particularly peanuts, walnuts, and pecans
- Seeds – especially sunflower and pumpkin seeds
- Berries – such as strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries
- Melons – like watermelon and cantaloupe
- Tomatoes – particularly when overripe or bruised
- Peppers – especially when not stored properly
- Mushrooms – particularly when past their prime
- Jams and jellies – especially homemade varieties
- Fruit juice – particularly freshly squeezed or unpasteurized varieties.
Always inspect these foods for mold before eating, and store them in a dry, cool place to help prevent mold growth. If in doubt, it’s best to throw out any food that appears moldy or past its expiration date.
12 Ways to Keep Your Food Safe & Mold-Free
Maintaining proper food safety practices is essential for safeguarding our health and preventing the growth of harmful bacteria and common fungus. Here are 12 tips to help ensure that our food is safe and free from all naturally occurring toxins:
- Always wash your hands with soap and water or use food-grade sanitizers before handling food to prevent the transfer of bacteria.
- Store food in airtight containers or wrap it in plastic to prevent contamination and keep moisture out.
- Regularly clean your refrigerator to prevent the growth of mold and bacteria.
- Wipe down surfaces with vinegar to kill bacteria and indoor mold.
- Use separate cutting boards for raw meats and vegetables to prevent cross-contamination.
- To eradicate harmful bacteria, use a food thermometer to ensure that food has been cooked to the appropriate temperature.
- Freeze food that you can’t consume immediately to prevent mold from growing.
- Leftovers should be consumed in three to four days to prevent mold and bacteria growth.
- Use desiccants, such as silica gel packets, to absorb moisture in food containers.
- Always check the expiration dates on food to ensure they are safe to consume.
- Regularly cleanse your kitchen to prevent mold growth.
- To inhibit mold growth on food, consider using natural remedies like grapefruit seed extract and clove oil.
How to Get Rid of Mold?
To maintain a healthy and safe living environment free from mold issues, it is crucial to eliminate mold spores. If you come across a small area of mold in your home, you can usually get rid of it by following these mold removal steps:
- Step 1: Identify the source of moisture. The first step in getting rid of the mold problem is to find the source of the moisture causing it to grow. This could be a leaky pipe or a damaged roof. Fixing the moisture problem is essential to prevent mold from coming back.
- Step 2: Wear protective equipment. Before cleaning the mold, wear gloves, goggles, and a mask to protect yourself from inhaling the mold spores and the musty smell.
- Step 3: Prepare the cleaning solution. When selecting a cleaning solution to eliminate mold, there are various options available. The most efficient solution involves combining bleach and water in a spray bottle and applying it to the impacted area. Alternatively, you could use a commercial mold cleaner or a mixture of vinegar and water.
- Step 4: Clean the moldy area. Apply the cleaning solution to the moldy environment and let it sit for a few minutes. Then, use a brush or sponge to thoroughly scrub the mold off the surface or from the tile floors. After scrubbing, rinse the area with clean water and dry it thoroughly. Use a fan or dehumidifier to speed up the drying process.
- Step 5: Prevent mold from returning. As mentioned earlier, to prevent mold from returning, ensure to fix any moisture problems in your home. This could include fixing leaks, improving ventilation, or using a dehumidifier in damp areas.
It is important to note that, if the mold has spread to a larger area, it’s best to call a professional mold-removing company. Removing a large mold patch on your own can be challenging and potentially dangerous.
How Long Does It Take for Mold to Get Out of Your System?
The time it takes for mold to get out of our human body depends on several factors, including the duration and intensity of your exposure, your overall immune system health, and the type of mold you were exposed to.
In some cases, the symptoms of being exposed to mold may go away on their own after a short period, while in other cases, they may persist for months or even years.
When Should You See a Doctor for Mold Exposure?
You should see a doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms of mold exposure:
- Nasal congestion
- Shortness of breath
- Skin irritation
The above mold exposure symptoms may be warning signs of a weakened immune response system. However, if you have pre-existing health conditions, such as asthma attacks and allergic reactions, you may be more susceptible to mold and should seek medical attention for proper diagnosis immediately after you experience symptoms such as those highlighted above.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How do you know if you have toxic mold in your body?
You can know you have toxic mold in your body when you start experiencing mold illness-related symptoms such as runny nose, chronic coughing, nausea, skin rashes, and itchy eyes.
How can I test myself for mold exposure?
You can test yourself for mold through a blood test that measures specific antibodies in your bloodstream or through a urine test that is suitable for detecting mycotoxin exposure in you and your family members.
What does mold poisoning feel like?
Mold poisoning feels like you are having respiratory problems such as coughing and wheezing, skin irritation, and watery eyes, and in severe cases, it can cause an asthma attack or life-threatening infections, especially in people with weakened immune systems.
What are the first symptoms of black mold?
The first symptoms of black mold usually include coughing, short breathing, wheezing, eye and skin irritation, headaches, and fatigue.
As we have seen, mold toxicity can have symptoms such as chronic coughing, wheezing, nausea, vomiting, and skin rashes. It’s important to be aware of these 10 warning signs of mold toxicity and seek professional help if you suspect that you or your environment may be affected.
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Danny is a passionate writer who loves to share his knowledge about air purifiers. He’s been writing for 10 years, and he’ll share all that experience with Very Well Home viewers to help you make the best decision when it’s time to buy an appliance!