Sneezing, coughing, and rubbing your eyes? The pollen count is high and many of us are suffering with full-blown allergy symptoms. However, those symptoms could actually be a sign that you have mold in your home.
During this time of year, warmer weather and damper conditions cause dormant mold spores to reactivate. This can trigger an immune system response — making it all the more difficult to distinguish between your spring allergies and mold reactions. Thankfully, air quality expert Michael Rubino shared with us six symptoms that might be caused by mold in your home, and not pollen outside.
What symptoms might indicate that you have mold in your home?
According to Rubino, you should watch out for the following chronic health issues:
- Allergy symptoms or a persistent cold. “Certain species of mold are allergenic and can trigger these allergy-like symptoms and re-occurring colds,” says Rubino. “These symptoms develop when your environment is contaminated with the particles created by these specific species.”
- Hives, eczema, skin rashes. “Many [of my] clients complain about hives, rashes, and other skin issues when they have an abundance of mold and bacteria in their environments. Studies suggest that an increase in our fungal/bacterial load can drastically alter our skin and gut biome, leading to skin problems or opening the door to related conditions such as candida.”
- Headaches. “This is an extremely common symptom that we see [in] individuals [who] are living in water-damaged environments. What starts out as inflammation in the gut can lead to chronic inflammation in the brain, causing increased pressure inside the head.”
- Brain fog and cognitive difficulty. Inflammation caused by living in a water-damaged environment can lead to neurodegenerative disorders and impaired cognitive function such as brain fog, slurred speech, and acute aphasia [difficulty understanding written or spoken language]. In extreme cases, it could lead to disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s’ disease.”
- Chronic fatigue and impaired physical mobility. “Chronic fatigue is another unfortunate and common symptom expressed by individuals living in water-damaged environments. This symptom seems to improve when they are no longer in these toxic indoor environments.”
- Hormone disruption and infertility. “Hormone imbalances [from living in a water-damaged home] and other devastating, strange phenomena have unfortunately occurred with a few of my clients. For that reason, many clients reach out to me when they’re expecting to try to create the healthiest environment possible for the mother and the baby.”
How can you assess whether you have mold in your home?
- It has an unpleasant, musty smell. (And if you recognize the smell of mildew or mold, that’s a good sign it’s present!)
- The area is exposed to dampness or moisture.
- You can see mold spots on the walls or on carpets. You may also see warping, cracking or peeling of wall material where the mold is growing. (Note: You can differentiate mold spots from dirt by keeping an eye on the area. Mold will spread; dirt will not.)
- The patch (on a wall or floor) lightens after you place a drop of bleach on it.
What can you do to get rid of the mold?
If mold is detected, you will need to remove it by either hiring a professional or thoroughly cleaning the affected area yourself. If certain areas of your house are damp, consider investing in one or multiple de-humidifiers.
While this process might be expensive and time consuming, it won’t get better if you ignore it, and neither will your symptoms (if you have them).
“Over 50 percent of the American population suffers from mold sensitivity,” Rubino shares. “In extreme cases, mold can leave these millions of people bedridden and incapacitated. What’s even scarier is that one in four family members are experiencing adverse health reactions in their own home and don’t even know the cause may be mold. Allergenic molds can also cause allergies and allergic reactions such as asthma attacks.”
Make good air quality a high priority this season, and you just might find that your health will dramatically improve.