Are you worried you’ve been exposed to mold?
Not sure of the signs and symptoms to look for and when should you see a Doctor?
In this article, you will learn:
- The dangers of mold exposure and what symptoms to watch out for,
- When to see a doctor and what they can do to help,
- Treatments and prevention of mold exposure.
Dangers of Mold Exposure
Although mold is extremely common, there are significant dangers associated with exposure.
The effects of mold exposure on an individual’s health can range from anything as simple as allergies to breathing problems or a weakened immune system.
In individuals with asthma, mold can trigger flare-ups or asthma attacks. This is because mold spores can easily get trapped in the lungs.
The combination of the spores and the triggers in the air that people with asthma are sensitive to often cause serious health problems.
Some symptoms to watch out for include:
- Shortness of breath
- Asthma attacks
Allergies are another common reaction to mold exposure. Similar to asthma, mold can also worsen allergy symptoms.
People with allergies may experience a runny nose, itchy eyes, sneezing, and coughing.
Mold spores can easily travel through the air, and when they get trapped in the nose, eyes, and lungs many people’s allergies worsen, and additional illnesses may occur.
In individuals with already weakened immune systems, underlying health conditions, or mold sensitivities, mold exposure can cause serious health problems.
Additionally, some molds are toxic and release mycotoxins, which are known to cause serious health problems that can be life-threatening if left untreated.
How Can You Tell if Mold is Toxic?
Although black mold is the most commonly known toxic mold, there are several types that grow in homes and outdoors.
Thankfully, toxic molds are usually easy to identify and avoid.
1. Use Your Nose
Your nose will be your most important tool in identifying toxic mold.
Many toxic molds have a distinctive, musty odor that infects walls, carpets, or flooring.
If you suspect toxic mold in your home, smell your surroundings for any foul, musty scents.
Be sure not to directly inhale mold, however, especially in close proximity.
2. Use Your Eyes
Next, you will want to examine what the mold looks like.
Toxic molds often appear gray in color with a slimy, wet, or soot-like texture.
Some toxic molds have additional brown or orange furry spots.
If you see furniture, walls, or flooring with stains similar to this description, chances are you have toxic mold growing.
3. Gauge Your Symptoms
The last step in identifying potentially toxic mold in your home is to gauge your symptoms.
If you are having trouble focusing, feel fatigued, or have a cough that just won’t go away, then you might be experiencing the side effects of toxic mold.
When to See a Doctor for Mold Exposure
Mold exposure can be serious, whether it is a one-off inhalation of an infested home or prolonged exposure.
It is important for people who think they have been exposed to mold to be aware of their symptoms.
After all, those symptoms are the first sign that something may be seriously wrong.
Symptoms to Watch Out For
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is a good idea to visit your doctor, even if you aren’t sure that mold is the cause.
Many of these symptoms are not only uncomfortable and contagious, but they can also lead to other serious health conditions.
- Sinus congestion
- Nasal irritation
- Itchy, red, or watery eyes
- Coughing or wheezing
- Sore or irritated throat
Moderate to Severe Symptoms
- Rashes, hives, or other skin irritations
- Organ damage
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Joint pain or weakness
- Brain lesions
- Chronic fatigue
- Cognitive dysfunction
- Hearing problems
Is it Mold or Something Else?
Sometimes, mold exposure symptoms can be confusing and overlap with typical allergies, colds, or flu-like symptoms.
A good rule of thumb to follow is this: if your symptoms persist and do not respond to your usual treatments, something else might be going on.
If this is the case, you should consider contacting your doctor.
When Should I Visit My Doctor?
You should visit your doctor if mild symptoms persist and resist regular treatment.
For example, if your allergies are worsening and you don’t find relief with your favorite, time-tested allergy medicine, then you should call your doctor.
If you are experiencing any moderate to severe symptoms, schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.
Should I Go to the Hospital?
Although the majority of mold exposures are not an emergency, there are a few cases where you should seek immediate medical help.
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, go directly to the hospital:
- You have significant, prolonged trouble breathing
- You have an asthma attack that won’t respond to usual treatment
- Your fever is above 102 degrees Fahrenheit
- You are coughing up blood
- There is a frothy or bloody discharge from your nose
- You are confused or disoriented
What Kind of Doctor do You See for Mold Exposure?
First, you should consult your primary care physician or family doctor. They will decide whether you need to be referred to a specialist.
Doctors who specialize in mold exposure and treatment are usually allergists or infectious disease physicians.
If your sickness is in your lungs, however, you may be referred to a pulmonary physician.
Additionally, if you suspect that you were exposed to mold through your workplace, then your general practitioner may refer you to an occupational physician.
Because mold symptoms and exposure can vary so much from individual to individual, your general physician is the best first step to personalize your treatment.
How Do Doctors Test for Mold Exposure & Mold Poisoning?
Your doctor will first consider your symptoms and the potential for mold exposure.
Next, they will likely conduct a physical examination to identify or rule out any other medical problems or underlying issues.
Your doctor may also run other allergy tests, which can conclude if you have a mold allergy or sensitivity.
Finally, if your physician suspects mold exposure or mold poisoning, there are a few different types of tests they will choose from.
These tests will confirm if your symptoms are a result of mold exposure.
Mold Poisoning Tests
The Blood Test
A blood test, also known as a radioallergosorbent test, will measure your immune system’s response to mold.
This is done by checking the number of specific antibodies (IgE or immunoglobulin E) in your bloodstream.
To complete this test, your doctor will draw your blood and send a sample to a testing laboratory. There, it will be tested for sensitivities to molds.
There are several types of blood tests that your doctor can perform to gauge your exposure to mold.
Some include the MELISA test, which is used to detect allergies to molds, toxins, and chemicals.
Other examples include the Radioallergosorbent (RAST) test and the Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA).
The Skin Prick Test
This test is commonly used to measure someone’s allergic reaction to different types of molds.
Your doctor will create a tiny puncture in a focal area (usually on your upper arm or back) and insert a diluted amount of mold. If that area develops a raised bump or hive, then you are allergic to that type of mold.
If, however, you don’t develop a raised bump or skin irritation, that is a sign your symptoms are not a result of a mold allergy.
Can a Doctor Actually Tell if Mold is Making Me Sick?
Mold exposure and poisoning can be difficult and tricky to diagnose.
However, doctors regularly test and confirm mold poisoning and exposure through a series of trusted tests, as mentioned above.
If you suspect your symptoms are due to mold exposure, schedule an appointment with your doctor, right away.
How Long Does It Take to Get Sick from Mold Exposure?
The answer to this question is highly dependent on each individual.
Those who are more at risk may experience more severe symptoms quicker, while others may never experience symptoms, at all.
There are other things to consider, as well.
This includes exposure length, allergies or sensitivities, proximity to the mold during exposure, and more.
Generally speaking, you can expect to experience symptoms anywhere from two hours to three days after exposure.
What Are the Treatments for Mold Exposure?
Thankfully, you don’t have to live with your symptoms forever.
There are several treatments for mold exposure, some of which your doctor can prescribe and some you can do on your own.
1. Avoid or Limit Contact
The first, and perhaps more important, treatment for mold exposure is to avoid or limit your contact with mold.
By removing yourself from a moldy environment you are freeing your body from any future and potentially more damaging mold exposure.
The moment you stop breathing in mold spores is the moment your body begins to heal.
2. Nasal Sprays
Nasal sprays can help to relieve and prevent the inflammation brought on by an allergy to a respiratory mold.
Many individuals report that this treatment method is the most effective in reducing symptoms.
Although there are slight side effects to nasal sprays, such as nosebleeds and nasal dryness, they are generally safe to use for a long period of time.
Your doctor may give you a nose spray to help with your allergies, such as ciclesonide (Omnaris, Zetonna), fluticasone (Flonase Allergy Relief, Xhance), mometasone (Nasonex), triamcinolone and budesonide (Rhinocort).
Antihistamines work by blocking a chemical produced by your immune system during an allergic reaction, known as histamine.
These medications help with exposure symptoms, such as itching, sneezing, and congestion.
Loratadine (Alavert, Claritin), fexofenadine (Allegra Allergy), and cetirizine are common examples of over-the-counter antihistamines your doctor may prescribe. There are also various antihistamine nasal sprays, as well.
Both over-the-counter oral decongestants and decongestant nasal sprays are common treatments for mold exposure.
These should not be used for more than 3-4 days in a row, as they can actually worsen your symptoms if used long-term.
Examples of common decongestants include Sudafed, Drixoral Cold and Allergy, and Afrin.
This oral tablet works to block the action of immune system chemicals, known as leukotrienes, that cause allergy symptoms.
Some concerns are arising regarding this medicine’s side effects (anxiety, insomnia, depression) as more and more individuals report feeling these symptoms.
Check with your doctor if this is a good treatment option for you.
Immunotherapy often takes the form of a series of allergy shots that can decrease your reaction to allergens.
This is a common treatment for specific molds and is proven to be an extremely effective long-term solution for allergies.
7. Nasal Rinse
Mold can cause irritating nasal symptoms, such as congestion or a runny nose. A simple, at-home solution is rinsing your nose daily with saltwater.
There are squeeze bottles, syringes, or pots specifically designed to irrigate your nasal passages.
If you choose this option, make sure that the water you use is distilled, sterile, and cool.
How Do You Naturally Detox Your Body from Mold?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best way to detox your body from mold will vary depending on your individual situation and health.
Where to Start
Whatever your natural method, you’ll want to make sure that you are focusing on removing heavy metals from your body and calming any inflammation.
Some other general tips include eating a healthy diet, drinking plenty of fluids, getting adequate sleep, and exercising regularly.
Always consult with your doctor when considering other methods and medications, as some may have adverse side effects.
Natural Mold Detox Methods
1. Activated Charcoal
Activated charcoal is a great method to gently rid your body of any toxins or poisons.
Additionally, it is a mycotoxin detoxifier and helps to reduce excessive inflammatory responses.
Many recent studies have shown that probiotics are effective at attacking mycotoxins and safely removing them from your system.
Probiotics help to support bile flow, improve your gut health, and protect against inflammation.
3. Bentonite Clay
Bentonite clay has emerged as a powerful detoxifying agent. This is due to its poly-cationic nature, which helps to absorb negative charge toxins.
How Long Do Mold Exposure Symptoms Last?
Unfortunately, the answer to this question is not straightforward, as it is highly dependent on several factors.
If you experienced only a mild mold exposure, your symptoms could last anywhere from one day to a week.
On the other hand, mold exposure symptoms will last much longer in individuals who experienced significant levels of exposure.
Some individuals reported feeling better just weeks after treatment began. Conversely, other people can experience symptoms for up to a year after treatment.
The best way to gauge how long your symptoms will last is to consider four things: how much mold you were exposed to, whether you have underlying health concerns or mold sensitivities, the type of mold you were exposed to, and how long you were exposed to the mold.
Can Mold Poisoning Go Away by Itself?
Chances are that your symptoms from mold exposure will not simply go away without additional treatment.
This is especially the case if you continue to stay in mold-ridden environments.
The good news is that mold-related illnesses will oftentimes resolve with simple treatments.
While there can be lasting effects, the sooner you treat your sickness and symptoms the sooner you will begin to feel like yourself, again.
Preventing a Mold Exposure Relapse
The best way to ensure that you do not experience mold-related sickness in the future is to arm yourself with the knowledge of how to recognize and rid yourself of mold.
Believe it or not, it is in your power to control mold.
Although it can be sneaky, if you take the necessary steps to keep your environment dry and airy, you can help eliminate the likelihood of mold growth.
This is because mold thrives in dark, dank, and moist environments. So, creating an environment opposite of this will help to prevent any and all mold growth.
Other Mold Prevention Tips:
- Keep the temperature of your home consistent
- Keep humidity levels in your home below 50%
- Make sure your walls are well insulated
- Clean up any water damage immediately
- Frequently open windows in rooms that are dark and musty
- Clean or repair roof gutters
- Immediately fix any leaks in your home’s roof, walls, or plumbing
When in doubt, if you’re worried that mold might be growing in your home again, it is always a good idea to call a professional to come and evaluate.
They will be able to determine if mold is infesting your home and if your symptoms are cause for concern.
We have Mold Remediation Specialists that can help Find the Source of the Mold In your home, Remove it & Prevent it from Returning.
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