During the fall months, mold often is a major component in making allergies unbearable. Fallen leaves provice an ideal food source, because they also will hold in moisture, which is the key element in mold growth. Beyond their ability to spark allergic reactions and asthma attacks, molds can cause many other health concerns ranging from temporary discomfort to long term, life-threatening diseases.
Molds can be separated into three catagories:
- Opportunistic Pathogens (a parasitic organism that does not cause harm to it’s host)
- Exclusive Saprotrophs (an organism that only consumes non-living organic matter)
- Aquatic Thermophiles (organisms that require warm temperatures to survive)
Molds differ from plants because they do not use photosynthesis to produce their food– mold must find a source of nourishment. As it feeds on it’s host, mold work to break down whatever surface it is attached to. For this reason, mold is beneficial to decaying processes, but when mold turns up in your house, it is important to address it immediately. Though the mold growing on the grout in your bathroom may seem innocuous, it’s mere presence means that the only thing holeing you tile in place is being slowly dissinigrated.
Molds spread by tiny airborne spores, that act like tiny seeds and only need a tempid environment, moisture and a food source to germinate (which is why the avergage house is a perfect mold environment). Some mold will produce toxins called mycotoxins in order to inhibit the growth of competitive organisms. The problem with mycotoxins is that molds enjoy the same environments that people do, and because of this, the humans are exposed to more dangerous mycotoxins than they may realize.
It is nearly impossible to destroy mycotoxins– the digestive system cannot break them down and temperature treatments like heating them or freezing do not affect them. This is why mycotoxins are one of the primary causes of food-bourne illness. Another situation where mycotoxins are fairly common is office building and schools. In the 1990′s, people first realized that mycotoxins caused organ failure, cancer and respiratory problems and several multi-million dollar law suits were awarded to those affected by mold.
Certain mycotoxins are considered to be the most potent carcenogens in existance.
There are several ways in which mycotoxins affect the body:
- Hyper sensitivity - (an allergic response to molds and spores)
- Mycotoxicosis – poisoning by food products contaminated by fungi
- Mycetismus – the ingestion of preformed toxin (i.e. toadstool poisoning)
- Infection (systemic) – (also known as Mycotoxicosis)
Symptoms of Mycotoxins (people with mycotoxicosis will have recently experienced at least 8 of the symptoms from this list):
• Respiratory distress, coughing, sneezing, sinusitis
• Difficulty swallowing, choking, spitting up (vomiting) mucous
• Hypersensitivity pneumonitis
• Burning in the throat and lungs (similar to acid reflux and often misdiagnosed as such)
• Asthmatic signs; wheezing, shortness in breath, coughing, burning in lungs, etc.
• Irritable bowel syndrome, nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pains
• Bladder, liver, spleen, or kidney pain
• Dark urine
• Dirt-like taste in mouth, coated tongue
• Food allergies/leaky gut syndrome/altered immunity
• Memory loss; brain fog, slurred speech, sometimes leading to dementia
• Vision problems
• Swollen lymph nodes
• Large boils on neck (Often a sign of Anaphylaxis)
• Thyroid irregularities
• Anxiety/depression, heart palpitations – confusion, PTSD
• Extreme blood pressure, cholesterol, or triglycerides irregularities
• Ringing in ears, balance problems, dizziness
• Chronic fatigue
• Intermittent face flushing; almost always systemic (Called the Mylar Flush)
• Numbness in face and limbs, intermittent twitching
• Night sweats and hot flashes (Especially around the head)
• Multiple chemical sensitivity
• Nose bleeds
• Bruising easily
• Rash or hives, formication, bloody lesions all over the skin (Often systemic)
• Reproductive system; infertility, changes in menstrual cycles
• Sudden weight changes
• Hair loss
• Joint/muscle stiffness and pain
• Heart attack
• Inadvertent facial movements or extremity jerking
• Hypersensitivity when re-exposed to molds, which can lead to anaphylaxis
• Anaphylaxis upon re-exposure to mycotoxin producing molds
• Death, in extreme cases
For tips on mold clean up or precautions against getting mold, check out my post on methods of mold clean up. If have a flooded area in your house that has been submerged for more than 24 hours or moldy area larger than two square feet, call a mold remediation company (it could be dangerous to to-it-yourself in these two cases)!
Any case of mold that is covering an area larger than two square feet can be dangerous for your health– so please use caution.