If you have a mould problem in your home you are probably suffering several of the symptoms of mould. In fact, many people suffer symptoms from mould and don't even realize it, instead of
assuming their symptoms are from hay fever or a cold.
This page identifies:
Testing for mould symptoms
Treatment for mould symptoms
Types of Symptoms from Mould
There are three main types of symptoms mould can cause:
Allergic and irritant symptoms
Allergic Symptoms from Mould Exposure
Most mould symptoms are caused by mould allergies. When you breathe in mould spores your immune systems respond by creating allergic reactions. These reactions are the immune system's defence against foreign particles entering the body.
The more a person is around moulded the more sensitive to it they will become. This means that they can end up unable to tolerate being around even small amounts of mould. Their allergic reactions will also become more and more severe.
Symptoms that mould allergies cause include:
Cold or flu-like symptoms
Irritated, itchy throat
Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath
Irritated, itchy skin
Skin rash, hives
Red, bloodshot eyes
Hair loss, baldness
Hay fever symptoms
Toxic Symptoms from Exposure to Toxic Mould
There are about 16 mould species which are toxic to humans. These moulds put out highly toxic chemicals called mycotoxins.
Mycotoxins cause toxic symptoms which are much worse than the allergic symptoms caused by ordinary moulds. Some of the symptoms caused by toxic moulds include bleeding, damage to internal organs, mental impairment, cancer and even death in some cases.
Sometimes mould spores that are breathed into a person's lungs begin to grow inside them. Mould infections like this can also grow in the sinuses, skin or digestive system.
These mould infections usually don't occur in healthy people. Elderly people or those who are sick with compromised or suppressed immune systems can suffer these infections though since their immune systems might not be strong enough to fight off the mould. Sometimes these mould infections can even cause death.
Mould species that can opportunistically infect people include Trichoderma, Penicillium marneffei and Aspergillus fumigatus.
Testing for Mould Symptoms
Physical Examination for Mould Symptoms
There are a few different tests available to determine if you have mould allergies. These tests can be performed for you by a medical professional such as a doctor or allergist.
One way is for a doctor to conduct a simple physical examination to identify if you have mould allergies. By identifying the visible physical symptoms along with you describing all your symptoms, the doctor can identify if you have allergic reactions caused by a mould allergy.
Skin Tests for Mould Symptoms
Another way to detect mould allergies is through a skin test. This test can be done in the doctor or allergist's office where they will insert tiny drops of purified mould allergens into the surface of your skin and observe the reaction.
Skin tests are actually more reliable than blood tests, although neither can detect allergies to every mould species as purified mould allergens from every type of mould are not available for allergy tests.
Blood Tests for Mould Symptoms
The next type of test you can have performed to detect mould allergies is blood tests. These involve a sample of your blood is taken and then examined for the presence of mould antibodies.
The MELISA (Memory Lymphocyte Immunostimulation Assay) test is one such test. The MELISA test can detect allergies to chemicals, toxins, and mould, including toxic moulds such as Aspergillus and Penicillium.
Like the skin test, the MELISA test detects allergies by applying allergens to the sample and identifying whether there is a heightened reaction. Also like the skin test the MELISA test does not measure the number of a mould's toxins or allergens in a person's body, only whether the person has an allergic reaction to that mould.
Other similar blood tests are the ELISA (Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay) and the RAST (radioallergosorbent) test.
Treatment for Mould Symptoms
While there are medications and shots which you can take to treat mould allergies, the best response is to avoid exposure to mould and mould spores as much as possible.
If you have mould in your home your first priority should be to get rid of it. By removing mould and its spores from your environment you will no longer be breathing in mould allergens, the cause of your allergic reactions, and you will quickly get better.
Removing mould completely step by step guide will be discussed in the following parts.
Even if there is no longer mould in your home a build-up of mould spores can still cause allergic symptoms and can also lead to new mould growth. Vacuum and clean regularly to minimize allergy-causing spores.
View the Preventing Mould page for more information about preventing mould and spores in your home.
Avoiding Food Mould
If you have mould allergies you might also find that your reactions increase after eating certain foods which contain fungi such as mushrooms and yeast.
Be sure to avoid any foods which you notice have caused your allergies in the past and before eating check food for signs of mould, especially foods such as cheese, bread and fruit which mould can readily grow on if past the use-by date.
Medications for Mould Symptoms
You can also take medications to reduce your allergic reaction to mould. There is medicine for allergies which you can buy directly from the pharmacy such as claratyne or Zyrtec or there is medication which a doctor can prescribe for you. These usually come in the form of pills or nasal sprays.
Consult your doctor or an allergist to find out what medicine you can take for allergies and be sure to carefully follow the directions of any medications you use. It should also be remembered that these types of medications only lessen the symptoms of allergic reactions, they do not cure you of the allergy or make you any less allergic to mould in the future.
Shots for Mould Symptoms
As a final treatment option, you can be given shots for allergies. However, shots are usually only recommended if other medications haven't worked as there are some disadvantages.
In order for you to receive shots the mould allergen that is affecting you needs to be identified. Also, you might need to take shots regularly for months or even years for them to remain effective. Like other medications, shots don't cure allergies, they just increase your tolerance to allergens and therefore lessen the symptoms of an allergic reaction.
To be followed...