Health Effects – Problems Resulting from Mold


Mold — In addition to the unpleasant appearance and overall nuisance that mold can cause as it damages materials and the smell that we may encounter, these fungi can also cause problems, some serious, to our health.  One of the main health issues that can result are respiratory allergies, but also observed are infectious and even toxic reactions.  To help better understand, we have divided this subject into three topics.

Allergies: Currently, it is estimated that approximately 30% of the population have allergies and that number is expected to increase to 50% by the middle of the century. There are several agents that can trigger allergies, among them, mold. The allergic response will depend on the sensitivity of the exposed person, the amount of mold they are in contact with, and the species. The amount of allergens to mold varies widely between regions and these molds are capable of triggering allergies such as respiratory, such as rhinitis, allergic sinusitis and atopic asthma.

Symptoms of rhinitis include irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, in addition to sneezing, sometimes in repetition. Sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinuses, which leads to pain in the area, as well as headaches and even earaches and in the region of the jaw. Asthma is characterized mainly by lack of air and wheezing in the chest.

The treatment of these diseases should be monitored by an allergist doctor and not only by prescription medication, when necessary, to environmental control, with reduction of exposure to mold.

Infectious reactions:  Although this type of reaction is not easily understood, mold infections have become increasingly common in recent years due to changes in population susceptibility.  Those with a suppressed immune system have a higher risk of acquiring fungal infections. Included in the risk group are elderly, patients with AIDS, cancer patients or under treatment for cancer and transplanted individuals.  The most common mold acquired through airborne transmission is one of the most commonly found fungi in homes around the world.  Those infected can experience very serious lung infections and it can be very difficult to diagnose.   Fungal infections may occur after a hospital admission, but it is important to note that a person’s home environment, if left uncontrolled, can produce high amounts of mold and can increase your risk of acquiring invasive fungal infections.   It is very important to reduce exposure to mold either in the hospital setting or at home.

Toxic reactions: Some species of fungi, under certain environmental conditions, are capable of producing toxins, generally referred to as mycotoxins.  Today, more than 300 mycotoxins are known, and although major studies are focused on toxins produced by molds in food, other research has shown that exposure indoors can also cause possible damage.  Recent studies have Stachybotrys chartarum, a kind of mold found indoors which can cause toxic problems for people, to be dangerous and can cause many respiratory and-pulmonary  problems What most health experts recommend is controlled measures like an air purifier which kills mold is necessary to maintain indoor air quality.  

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