Mold toxicity, though common, poses a serious health threat to those who are affected by the condition. Exposure to Stachybotrys chartarum, or black mold, causes a wide range of health problems throughout many body systems.
If mold toxicity isn’t addressed right away, problems persist and worsen. This is especially important when those who have compromised immune systems are exposed to the mold.
Your health could be at stake if your home has black mold. Read on to learn more about black mold and the 9 symptoms of mold toxicity that you should never ignore.
What Is Black Mold?
Not all dark-colored molds are actually black mold. Black mold is a greenish-black mold that is gelatinous in form because of its wet top layer. If the moisture source that encouraged its growth has dried up, the mold can appear powdery.
Black mold releases mycotoxins, which are byproducts of their metabolic processes. These mycotoxins can be dangerous to humans and cause a long list of health problems.
Black mold frequently grows in areas of the home where moisture is high and where water condenses.
These areas include:
- In the kitchen, especially under the sink and inside cabinets
- In the bathroom, especially in and around the shower and tub
- In the walls where pipes make be leaky
- Around windows and window sills
- In fireplaces and chimneys
- In the attic, especially near vents, the water heater, or the furnace
- In the basement, especially around ducts, pipes, or a sump pump
These areas should be checked often and kept clean and dry. If possible, measures should be taken to reduce moisture so that mold is less likely to grow in these places.
Who Is at Risk for Mold Toxicity?
While anyone can become ill from exposure to mold and its mycotoxins, some are more susceptible than others.
People who already have allergies or asthma can be more severely affected by mold toxicity than those who do not have allergies.
Also, people who are already ill, have immune suppression, or who have respiratory illnesses are more likely to have noticeable and intense symptoms resulting from mold exposure.
Symptoms of mold toxicity are fairly persistent and should not be ignored.
1. Sneezing and Nasal Congestion
While many things can trigger sneezing, it’s also a symptom of mold toxicity that should get your attention. If you’ve never had allergies or hay fever symptoms and you’re positive you don’t have a cold, those sneezes could be indicative of mold exposure.
Sneezing is the immune system’s common response to allergens. It could also be a warning sign that your home has a mold problem.
Mold exposure frequently causes a runny or blocked nose. This nasal congestion is caused by the body producing extra mucus in an effort to trap mold spores and prevent them from entering the body.
Like sneezing, nasal congestion is a common immune response to mold and allergen exposure.
2. Frequent Headaches
Mold toxicity can cause frequent headaches for several reasons.
Some headaches from mold exposure can be related to sinus issues caused by the allergic response to mold. Nasal congestion is a frequent contributing factor.
Mycotoxins from black mold are chemicals that can lead to neurotoxicity in the brain. In time, this can cause persistent headaches, impaired cognitive function, and other neurological problems.
3. Persistent Sore Throat
Having a dry or sore, irritated throat that does not go away could be a sign that you have a mold problem in your home. Mold spores and toxins irritate the mucous membranes in the throat, leaving it feeling uncomfortable or even painful.
Wheezing is a common symptom of mold exposure. The lining of the throat, the bronchial tubes, and other parts of the lungs become inflamed and irritated by mold spores and toxins.
This inflammation restricts airflow, causing a wheezing sound when breathing and a feeling of tightness in the chest.
5. Coughing and Shortness of Breath
The irritation and inflammation caused by mold often leads to frequent coughing that is otherwise unexplained.
The throat and lungs are constantly irritated when repeatedly exposed to mycotoxins. If the issue isn’t addressed, this coughing can develop into more serious conditions such as pneumonia and bronchitis.
The same inflammation that causes irritated, constricted airways that lead to wheezing and coughing can eventually lead to shortness of breath.
This gives a feeling of tightness in the chest. It may feel like you are unable to take in a full breath.
Asthma and Black Mold
Lung irritation is especially problematic for those with asthma, as mold exposure can trigger a serious asthma attack. Mold-induced asthma attacks can make it nearly impossible for someone with severe asthma to breathe.
6. Watery or Irritated Eyes
When allergens are present, the body releases histamines as part of its immune response. This histamine release is what causes the eyes to water excessively when exposed to toxins from mold.
This reaction from histamine may be the body’s way of flushing out allergens and toxins. It can serve as a warning to you that your environment may contain dangerous black mold.
7. Nausea and Vomiting
Prolonged or severe exposure to mycotoxins can eventually lead to detrimental nausea and vomiting. This occurs when your body’s immune system is overwhelmed with the toxins from black mold.
This can also occur more quickly in those with a known mold allergy.
8. Dry, Scaly, or Itchy Skin
Allergic reactions can sometimes manifest as a skin problem. Mold exposure can lead to:
- Dry, rough eczema patches
- Localized or widespread rashes
- Hives, especially over large regions of the body
- Itchy, scaly skin
These skin issues are often direct results of an allergic reaction to black mold exposure.
9. Itchy Eyes, Nose, and Throat
The same histamine response that causes wheezing, sneezing, coughing, watery eyes, and nasal congestion can cause an intensely itchy feeling in the eyes, nose, and throat.
If you’re finding yourself frequently dealing with a tickle in your throat or wanting to rub your nose or eyes from itchiness, you could have mold with itch eyes, nose, and throat being one of the most common symptoms of mold.
Constant exposure from breathing and living in close proximity to black mold commonly causes irritation to the eyes and upper respiratory tract.
Eliminate Black Mold to Regain and Maintain Health
If you’ve been exposed to black mold on a regular basis, the chances are high that you’re dealing with one or more of these symptoms. Illness from mold should be addressed immediately and professionally to limit further exposure to dangerous mycotoxins.