Possible Health Effects of Mold
Molds or Fungi are natural in both indoor and outdoor environments. Ideally, indoor airborne levels of mold should be less than or similar to outdoor airborne levels of mold. Elevated levels of airborne mold are often believed to be the cause of problems with otherwise healthy individuals. Inhalation is generally considered the primary means of indoor exposure to mold.
You should always consult with qualified physician in discussing any health care related issues, including the health effects of mold. Symptoms of mold exposure can be attributed to many other health-related issues. Always seek the appropriate expert medical advice.
For some people, the "moldy odor" can be irritating to mucous membranes, cause headaches and other symptoms. Hypersensitivity (allergic) reactions are typically the most common health problem. Symptoms include respiratory problems and difficulty breathing, nasal and sinus congestion, burning/watery or reddened eyes, dry hacking cough, nose and throat irritation, shortness of breath, skin irritation, headaches, memory problems, mood changes, aches and pains, and possible fever.
Mold exposure is not healthy for anyone but this exposure is especially problematic to infants/children, the elderly, pregnant women, immune-compromised individuals (HIV infection, cancer chemotherapy patients, liver disease, post-surgical patients, etc.), and persons with existing respiratory conditions. Some species of mold are known to cause infections leaving immune suppressed individuals especially at risk. These persons should be extra careful concerning mold exposure and should not to perform mold cleanup activities without special precautions.
Infections can be systemic or opportunistic and are established most commonly through inhalation or ingestion. Aspergillosis is a common fungal infection requiring hospitalization in the U.S. Another group of fungi (dermatophytes) can infect hair, skin and nails. Many species of mold produce toxic metabolites called mycotoxins which are believed to be most prevalent in spores (both living and dead spores).
Mycotoxins are of special concern since some may present a greater hazard to humans than all other conditions. Symptoms of toxicosis from mold include cold and flu-like symptoms, headache, nosebleeds, dermatitis, immune suppression, etc.
Other symptoms specific to infectious and/or toxic molds may be experienced.
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