Mold And Your Health: Does Being Exposed To Mold Cause Health Problems?
There are obvious ways in which we set out to maintain a healthy lifestyle, including eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, and getting adequate sleep. What’s not always so obvious is ensuring your home is maintained to prevent exposure to harmful substances. One particularly harmful substance that is found in every home to some extent is mold. Many wonder about the impact of mold on health, asking can mold causes rashes, can mold cause hives, and can mold causes lasting health issues? Left untreated, large overgrowths of mold can have a serious impact on the health of you and your family, such as mold rashes. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect those you love against mold, treat mold skin rashes, and remove existing growth to prevent future growth.
What is Mold and How Does it Grow?
The term mold is used to refer to fungi that grow in multicellular, thread-like hyphae structures. While mold is a common sight on foods and beverages that have spoiled, it can also be found in damp, moist areas of buildings. Moisture is integral to the growth of mold. As a result, mold can be caused by the use of air humidifiers, plumbing leaks, flooding, or any other opportunities for humidity to gather. Spaces such as basements and crawl spaces are particularly prone to mold growth as these spaces often lack proper ventilation, resulting in increased moisture and humidity.
Determining the exact type of mold growing in your home is difficult for the average person, as there are many types that range in color. The most well-known type of mold is referred to as black mold or toxic mold. Most homeowners know to be on the lookout for black mold, as this type of mold can cause health issues. Molds can result in health issues because they release very small, lightweight spores into the air that can then be inhaled by occupants of a house. Simply through inhalation, mold spores can travel deep into the lungs.
Impact of Mold on Health
So, just how dangerous is mold? Coming into contact with mold does not automatically result in health issues. In fact, most of us will come into contact with some amount of mold every day through touch, eating, and breath. However, prolonged exposure to mold when its growth is active and extensive can promote problems with health. The most common symptoms of mold exposure are those often associated with allergies, such as eye irritation, coughing, sneezing, and wheezing. Symptoms resulting from mold can range from mild to severe. Those that are particularly sensitive to the effects of mold or those with prolonged exposure can experience very serious issues, such as shortness of breath, fever, lung disease and infections, hair loss, anxiety, muscle cramps, and memory loss.
Can mold cause rashes, and can mold cause hives? Yes. Another issue that can result from exposure to mold is mold rashes and hives. In some cases, when the body’s immune system kicks in to protect again perceived threats such as mold, large quantities of antibodies are produced to attack the threat. This reaction can result in irritation and inflammation of the skin, and a mold rash is visible. Unfortunately, mold rashes and mildew rashes can be particularly itchy, however, it is important not to scratch to avoid breaking the skin and putting yourself at risk for infection.
Vulnerable Populations to Mold
There are a few populations that are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of mold, and who are at higher risk for mold skin rash and mildew rash. These populations include those with respiratory issues such as asthma, those with compromised immune systems, the elderly, and infants. Infants are susceptible to the harmful effects of mold because their immune systems are still developing. Additionally, little ones come into contact with surfaces that hold dust and mold spores, such as floors, putting them at a greater risk for inhalation and ingestion of substances of concern, in addition to mold rash and mildew rash. To protect those at special risk for mold rash, treat symptoms of mold exposure and remediate mold overgrowths as soon as they are discovered.
How to Treat Health Issues Caused by Mold
There are a few ways to treat health issues brought on by exposure to mold. Someone suffering from a mold rash or mildew rash can take oral antibiotics to address the infection. While antibiotics work most of the time, in especially severe cases of mold rash more intensive treatment methods and even hospitalization might be necessary. Additionally, there are topical ointments for a mold skin rash that can help with itchiness.
Another way to treat exposure to mold apart from mold skin rash is the use of nasal sprays or rinses. These items, which can be purchased over the counter, effectively reduce inflammation of the airways that result from mold allergies. You can also create your own rinse at home by mixing distilled water and saline and pouring through your nasal passages to remove mold spores and reduce congestion.
Antihistamines, decongestants, and medications to reduce mucus are all also effective in helping to treat conditions and systems associated with allergies and exposure to mold. If you suspect mold is having a negative impact on your health, contact your doctor to schedule a blood test to determine if you have in fact been exposed to harmful amounts of mold. If this is the case, you can then discuss treatment options and preventative measures to take to protect the important systems of your body.
Steps to Prevent Mold
The best way to protect your health and health of your loved ones from mold skin rash and other health effects is to stop it from growing altogether. One of the best methods for preventing exposure to mold is by ensuring air ducts in your home are kept clean. The air duct cleaning process involves removing dirt and debris from the heating and cooling systems in a house used to transport the flow of hot or cold air when heat or air conditioning systems are engaged. When left with a buildup of debris, these substances can spill into the air, reducing quality and resulting in harmful effects. It is therefore recommended that homes receive an air duct cleaning every 5 to 7 years.
Another method for preventing the growth of mold is by ensuring damp spaces such as the basement or crawl spaces are well ventilated and dry. Where moisture exists, mold growths. If you notice signs of water damage in your home, such as discoloration of walls, a musty odor, or cracking in the foundation, you are at a higher risk for the development of mold. Ensure your home is properly waterproofed and sealed. Should water damage or flooding occur, conduct repairs immediately and disposed of furniture or belongings that you cannot successfully dry.