Effects of Mold and Mildew on Health: Mold Awareness

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| 2012 May 09 |
Effects of Mold and Mildew on Health: Mold Awareness

For people who are allergic to mold, there are several negative effects of mold and mildew that’s growing on various surfaces indoors.

The problem arises when humidity and moderate temperatures sustain the growth of this fungi that typically feeds off of cellulose-rich materials like wood, drywall, fabrics and other textiles.

Short-term symptoms of a mold allergy resemble those of hay fever and can include sneezing, itchy eyes, skin rashes and a runny nose. Reactions resulting from long-term exposure to mold and mildew can lead to lung disease and serious respiratory problems.

Mold Exposure Symptoms

Many people develop adverse health effects after spending time in a moldy environment or after removing moldy carpeting from an indoor space. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), most people experience some sort of reaction after they’ve inhaled or touched allergenic mold spores. Coughing, sneezing and a runny nose are a good indicator of inflamed airways brought on by an allergic reaction to mold. As these symptoms progress, nasal congestion and a sore throat, accompanied by itchy and watery eyes, can result. Full recovery from these symptoms requires a complete and thorough mold remediation of the area, performed as soon as possible. The longer you’re exposed to mold, the more pronounced its effects can be on your health. Also, the symptoms of mold allergies will come and go as long as you continue to be exposed to a certain level of airborne mold allergens.

Sinus, Pulmonary and Respiratory Infections

Individuals who are regularly exposed to mold and mildew and who suffer from other health conditions (compromised respiratory or immune systems) have an increased chance of getting fungal infections when they inhale mold spores into the sinuses or lungs, where the fungi start to grow. The health effects of infection may or may not be noticeable without medical testing. Sometimes the person will experience chest pain, difficulty breathing, or they might cough up blood. The CDC notes that asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cystic fibrosis, HIV, cancer and recent transplant surgery patients are at a high risk of developing mold infections.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, irritation caused by mold allergies can also worsen existing conditions such as asthma, causing symptoms like wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath to appear suddenly. Furthermore, workers in many industries encounter mold and mildew problems in the buildings they work in or with the materials they handle. Prolonged or intense exposure to mold may cause hypersensitivity pneumonitis, a severe inflammation of the lungs. The Merck Manual’s Online Medical Library reports that avoiding mold can reverse this condition, although continued exposure can perhaps cause it to progress to incurable lung damage and disability.