Mold thrives in damp, dark places, like under sinks, on shower walls, in basements and between window panes. Having mold in your house is not just disgusting to look at, however; it’s also a potential health hazard. “Many molds can cause allergens that can affect some of the population, but some molds can also cause toxins, which can affect everyone, depending on the length of exposure,” according to the non-profit Mold Help organization. Knowing the dangers of mold can help you determine if it’s a threat in your home.
Being exposed to airborne toxins from mold can cause symptoms that might seem completely unrelated at first. It’s “very difficult to know whether or not you are experiencing black mold symptoms,” explains Mary Short-Ray, D.O., author of “Surviving Toxic Black Mold Syndrome,” because the symptoms are varied. This is because there are different types of black mold that are toxic, and each produces and gives off different mycotoxins. On top of that, your genetic makeup will determine how you respond to those mycotoxins, and your symptoms can change.
The most common symptoms include breathing problems, loss of hearing and memory, flu-like symptoms, dizziness and acid reflux. This may manifest through coughing, chest pains, muscle pain, headaches, burning eyes, fatigue, fever, abdominal pain, excessive thirst and urination, a rash or a flushed face.
Toxic mold can also bring about ailments that can only be treated after someone leaves the mold-contaminated environment. These include excessive bruising and allergies to mold, which come about due to hypersensitivity after the initial exposure to toxins. Allergic reactions can include sneezing, a stuffy or runny nose, coughing, itchy or watery eyes, asthma or an anaphylactic reaction. Treatment for reducing these ailments may include medication or dietary changes.
Some health problems may not go away, even after the mold is gone. These residual effects can be due to brain damage or a weakened immune system, and often include problems with eyesight, hearing, memory, balance or coordination. Other possible long-term illnesses and problems include kidney disease, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, cancer, hair loss and infertility. In extreme cases, expose to black mold can even result in death.