Over the past few years, there has been a movement towards greater acceptance and awareness of the impact of poor indoor air quality and environmental exposures. Yet we’re still leagues away from the level of consideration these health factors deserve. Many individuals, for example, remain unaware of helpful information such as the common symptoms of mold exposure.
The result? Far too many people continue to suffer, many unknowingly, from toxic indoor environments and exposure to contaminants like microbial growth. Being aware of the potential symptoms of mold exposure is one of the key methods for helping address this issue. Those reactions are the body’s way of saying, "Hey! Something around us is causing harm, and we need to leave!"
Having a grasp on microbial growth and the health impacts mold could trigger can help individuals (like you!) consider environmental factors during the diagnosis process and look to indoor contamination issues as possible underlying culprits. The sooner these issues are found, the faster steps can be taken to address the problem and begin detoxification.
Common Symptoms of Mold Exposure are Varied
Understanding what the common symptoms of mold exposure are is important because no two people react to this indoor contaminant the same way. It’s not as easy as going through a typical checklist for other health issues, such as strep throat. Every individual responds a little differently and develops a unique collection of reactions after exposure.
There is a long list of factors that can influence which adverse health reactions develop in every individual exposed.
Some of the factors include:
- There are over 100,000 species of mold identified so far. Some are pathogenic, while others are naturally toxic
- The ability of some species of mold to create mycotoxins
- The variable presence of bacteria
- Length of exposure
- The volume of exposure
- Immune system status (developing and compromised immune systems are more prone to developing symptoms faster and to a greater extent
Genetics, in particular, plays a role in how well a person can or cannot detox from the number of toxins building up in the body. While one individual’s immune system may work in overdrive, resulting in them only developing one reaction, another may get bogged down or malfunction, causing another person to experience over 70 different symptoms.
What Are Common Symptoms of Mold Exposure?
That brings us to why the immune system is getting involved in the first place.
Thanks to the small size of mold spores and related particles, they’re able to enter the body through inhalation, ingestion, or absorption. Some particles are so small that they can make their way into the bloodstream. This triggers an immune response as the body attempts to rid itself of the foreign particles within.
This reaction can trigger inflammation in the body, creating an entire systemic response. In a nutshell, that means that an array of issues can arise within the body. Like Atoosa mentioned in Mold Talks, her entire family experienced different reactions while living in their toxic apartment environment, from recurring sinus infections and neurological development to a bit of smelliness.
That is why an initial diagnosis can be difficult. Its ability to affect the entire body means digestive, neurological, or respiratory issues can develop.
Some of the most common symptoms related to mold exposure include:
- Brain fog
- Chronic fatigue
- Reoccurring sinus infections
- Hair loss
- Weight fluctuations
- Mood swings
- Skin sensitivity and pain
- Hormonal imbalances
- Fertility issues
- Anxiety and/or depression
- Joint pain
- Digestive issues
- Cold and flu-like symptoms
- And more…
To hear stories from individuals who have experienced common symptoms of mold exposure and those that aren’t so common, dive into the Mold Talks Podcast. Every episode features a mold survivor and/or expert who shares their story and provides strategies for dealing with the problem.
Why is it Important to Know the Common Symptoms of Mold Exposure?
Again, there’s a general lack of awareness when it comes to the impact environmental exposures like mold can have on health. Sure, the infamous “black mold” has made splashes across headlines over the years, but this singular focus may have caused more harm than good.
Yes, exposure to black mold, which in this case refers to Stachybotrys chartarum, can result in devastating health effects. But it’s not the only mold to look out for. The truth is that any mold has the potential to trigger adverse health effects. Aspergillus, a "common mold" that we often see in our clients' homes, can also turn a home into a toxic environment. This species not only releases spores into the surrounding environment but can also create mycotoxins. Not to mention, it can lead to health conditions such as Aspergillosis.
That’s why all mold should be considered a serious threat to health and be dealt with quickly. This is only one of the main misconceptions regarding microbial growth, but it highlights a main issue: exposure is not always given the serious consideration it deserves. The lack of understanding of the consequences of exposure has led to issues in many industries, including the medical realm.
Many people simply deal with these chronic symptoms that "seem" to have no underlying cause. Unfortunately, many medical professionals are unaware of the impact that exposure to microbial growth can have. That means that while the patient will receive help to alleviate the symptoms, the root cause will continue to exist.
And as long as exposure continues, those symptoms will persist.
The more we’re aware of information such as common symptoms of mold exposure, the sooner we’ll begin to see this current path change. Health is holistic. Including environmental exposures in the health equation is crucial to ensuring affected individuals get the help they need and deserve.
Until this factor is included, it’s up to us to be our own health advocates and work to find the root cause of chronic symptoms. You never know if something like mold exposure is the reason your body is sounding the alarm.
What to Do if You Suspect Symptoms of Mold Exposure
The first step towards addressing the symptoms of mold exposure is to determine if microbial growth is actually causing those reactions.
Check for Signs
Any home can develop a mold problem. In fact, more and more brand-new homes have contamination issues before anyone ever moves inside. This is due to a lack of awareness and consideration for avoiding microbial growth throughout the building process. On the other hand, older homes can have various structural issues, allowing for moisture intrusion and microbial growth.
Signs of microbial growth can include:
- Visible growth: There are over 100,000 species of mold identified around the world so far. With so many in existence, mold can come in various colors, shapes, and textures. Some of the most common colors include green, pink, white, grey, blue, red, black, brown, or a combination of hues. As for textures, they could be fuzzy, powdery, velvety, or slimy.
- Odor: Growth can create an earthy, musty, damp, cigar-like smell due to the release of gases called microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOC).
- Water damage: This creates the perfect conditions for microbial growth to develop, so it should always be a factor for potential contamination if it's present.
Test the Body and Work With a Knowledgeable Doctor
There’s no singular test for determining if there are high levels of toxins from mold exposure in the body. A qualified medical professional who is familiar with mold will be able to run a series of tests that can help alert them to environmental exposure as the root cause of the problem or part of the issue. This often includes blood work, mycotoxin testing, visual contrast sensitivity, and genetics.
Keep in mind, though, that not all medical professionals are aware of mold’s ability to impact the body and how to treat it.
The medical professional you are working with should understand this issue. They should have experience treating clients dealing with environmental exposures and have a process in place to figure out exactly what your body needs to heal. If they suggest a single "fits-all" strategy, they’re not the professionals for you.
This individual should also listen to you, trust in your instincts, and be dedicated to doing whatever it takes to help you and your family heal. Unfortunately, getting through mold exposure can be a difficult and time-consuming process. They should be in it for the long haul and ready to face any obstacles that may pop up, as well as shape their protocol around wherever you are in the home health process.
Test the Space
The best way to determine if there’s mold in a home is to hire a qualified mold inspector. This individual will be able to determine if there’s mold growth in a home, what species are present, where the colony or colonies are, what the levels of contamination are, and what caused the growth in the first place. Their inspection should span a few hours, thoroughly check every space in the house, and use a variety of measuring techniques to assess the area.
Some of the testing data you should expect to see are:
- Species of mold present
- Quantities of each mold
- Potential spore presence in the HVAC system
- Presence of mycotoxins
- Presence of bacteria
All of this information is needed to understand what actually exists in the home so that they can create the right protocol for the unique situation. If other contaminants, such as mycotoxins and bacteria, are present, the remediation protocol will need to address this. Should spores make their way into the HVAC, this will need to be remedied. Otherwise, those particles will blow all over the home and could turn into a new mold colony.
Successful remediation requires every piece of the puzzle to fit together correctly in order to decontaminate a home.
If you’re not quite ready to hire a mold inspector, consider an at-home testing alternative such as The Dust Test. Microscopic contaminants will collect where dust collects. Testing and analyzing indoor dust will help determine if there are high levels of contaminants in the dust, which points to a current issue within the home.
Was Mold Found?
If the testing data shows that there’s mold in the home, your next step is to find a qualified remediation company like HomeCleanse to get rid of the mold on the bathroom ceiling. Like mold inspectors, though, not all remediation teams are built the same.
You want a company that prioritizes your health, understands the importance of creating a safe environment, and has proven success in remediating toxic homes. Their protocol should be built on three main pillars to ensure proper decontamination.
These three pillars are:
- Remediate the sources properly.
- Identify and address the problems that led to those sources in the first place.
- Eradicate all contamination created by those sources, including toxins and bacteria.
Failure to hit every point is an unsuccessful remediation.
If the source that led to the contamination isn’t addressed, the conditions for growth are still there, allowing the problem to come right back. Should the roots of the microbial growth be left behind, the colony can come right back. High levels of contaminants like mycotoxins and bacteria left behind can lead to continued exposure. Each scenario does not lead to a healthy home environment and can allow for any chronic symptoms to persist.
The last thing anyone wants to do is waste money and time repeating the process while continuing to feel ill. The right team should check all of the above boxes so that when they leave, you can rest easy knowing that the mold on the bathroom ceiling is no longer an issue.
Focusing on Wellness
Having an understanding of the common symptoms of mold exposure is an essential component of building awareness. With how much time we spend indoors breathing air, they play a huge role in our ongoing health and wellbeing. If any of the above symptoms develop and medical professionals can’t figure out why, it could be due to exposure to these indoor contaminants on a regular basis.
The key thing to remember is that this issue can be addressed. We don’t have to settle for living with chronic health issues if the culprit is right inside our own homes. Eliminating microbial growth, decontaminating the space properly, and detoxing can set your body on the path to healing.
Also, keep in mind that talking about indoor air quality and common symptoms of mold exposure is not jumping into a doom and gloom conversation. Shining a light on this topic is meant to empower you! The more you know about the impact environmental exposures have on health, the better your well-being will be.
If you have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to experts and discuss the concerns or uncertainties you have.
Still Have Questions?
A member of our team is here to help! Click on “Get Started ➤” below to book a consultation with a member of the HOMECLEANSE team. We have a few quick questions that will help us put together a roadmap to solve or prevent all of your mold problems.
Two minutes of your time could lead to better health for you and your family.