Do You Know How to Spot Signs of Mold Exposure?
Mold is everywhere. Mold is outside and inside your home. It’s been around for thousands of years, but what exactly is it?
Mold is a type of fungi and there are thousands of species of mold – some which have great benefits. Ever heard of penicillin? It’s actually made from a type of mold called Penicillium. So, pretty lazy naming there.
Like most things, there’s a fine balance with mold. Excessive mold exposure can make you sick – especially if you have an allergy to mold or have a history of lung disease. Having a mold allergy is actually super common. It’s not always easy to recognize the symptoms of mold exposure, but treating excess mold in your home can greatly reduce your symptoms.
Symptoms of Mold Exposure
Mold releases spores into the air and these spores produce allergens. But those allergens can cause allergic-type reactions in certain people. Some people are more sensitive than others to mold and have a mold allergy. As mold in your environment increases to unhealthy levels, certain symptoms of mold exposure can occur such as:
- Nasal congestion
- Throat irritation
- Coughing or wheezing
- Eye irritation
- Skin irritation
Since mold spores are inhaled, your lungs can be especially affected by mold exposure. Chronic mold exposure can weaken your immune system, putting you at risk for frequent respiratory infections. If you have a chronic lung disease such as Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (COPD) you may be more likely to develop a serious lung infection from excessive mold exposure. Additionally, if you have asthma, mold exposure can cause more frequent asthma attacks.
It’s tricky, though, because symptoms of mold exposure can mimic seasonal allergies or other environmental allergies. Discussing these symptoms with a doctor can help determine the cause and find treatment solutions.
The first step in treating symptoms of mold exposure is identifying and removing the mold. But how do you find it? Black mold is one of the most common molds and can usually be spotted by seeing dark water rings or black spots on a surface. You may also smell a musty odor in the air.
Another way to find mold is to look in places mold can thrive. Mold loves moisture so it’s more prevalent in areas that collect moisture – your bathroom, shower, and laundry room. If you have a leak in your roof or a window that allows rain to get inside your walls or flooring, this can also promote mold growth.
In addition to high moisture areas, mold can grow on many types of surfaces including:
- Ceiling tiles
- Wood beams and wood products
- Paper products
Mold can also grow in dust and paint! Research shows it’s not very helpful to determine the type of mold you have, but identifying and treating the excess mold is what’s most important.
You’ve Found the Mold, Now What?
If you’ve identified mold in your home, determining how you clean it up is based on a few factors. If you have a large area – such as an entire room or floor of your home – it’s probably best to hire a contractor to help clean up the mold. If your heating and air conditioning system has developed mold, having a ventilation specialist address the mold will ensure all areas are treated. If mold has grown on a porous surface such as ceiling tiles and carpet, you may need to replace them completely rather than try and clean them.
If it’s a rather small area, you may be able to clean the mold on your own. There are various techniques and products available to clean off and remove mold. If you’re unsure what to use or if it’s safe to use that product on a specific surface – please consult a contractor for further advice. You never want to paint or apply caulk to an area with mold as the paint is likely to peel and spores are still able to get in the air.
Troubleshooting why the mold developed is an important step too. Fixing leaking pipes as well as sealing leaky windows and doors will help prevent mold from returning. If your home or area in your home has poor ventilation, installing dehumidifiers or upgrading your ventilation systems can help reduce mold development.
Treating Your Symptoms of Mold Exposure
Once you’ve removed the excessive amounts of mold in your home, your symptoms of mold exposure should start to improve. It’s impossible to avoid all mold and if you have a mold allergy, you may still have symptoms after removing the mold. Discussing treatment with your doctor can help determine what will work best for you. You may even be referred to a specialist if your mold allergy is severe enough.
Since mold exposure causes allergic-type reactions, most treatments aim to reduce allergy symptoms. Nasal steroid sprays can help reduce inflammation in your sinuses and reduce nasal congestion and stuffiness. Over the counter antihistamines can help with itching and sneezing. If you have severe allergies to mold you may benefit from immunotherapy which would be coordinated with an allergy specialist.
Working with your doctor to identify the cause of your allergies as well as symptom management can help you manage your mold allergies. It can sometimes be confusing trying to determine what treatment is best as well as what do to do remove the excessive mold in your home. Your doctor can help guide you each step of the way to help you feel better as quick as possible.
Urgent Care in Austin, Texas
If you’re in the Austin area and feel like you or a loved one may be suffering from symptoms of mold exposure, Remedy can help. We will help you troubleshoot your symptoms and refer to a specialist if needed. We will also help provide resources for treating your symptoms as well as provide guidance to identifying if your home has an unhealthy amount of mold.
Our 24/7 Video Visits can start usually within minutes of a request and we accept most major insurances. Our 24/7 telemedicine Video Visits are available statewide in Texas and California. We also offer in-person house calls in addition to our clinic services. Using these tools we will help you come up with a plan to identify and address and symptoms of mold exposure. If you’re in the Austin area and need help today, click here to set up an appointment or call 844-REMEDY-5.
We look forward to helping you!