When To See a Doctor for Mold Exposure
In the last few years, education and awareness on the impact of toxic mold on human health have increased. Mold spores tend to build up in an environment long before any visible signs of an infestation are clear, leading to long-term exposure to this harmful toxin. Mold exposure can be hard to diagnose since toxicity symptoms mimic several other health conditions. However, in severe situations, exposure to mold warrants a visit to a medical professional. This guide can help you narrow down your exposure, possible signs of illness, and how a doctor can help.
Mold exposure is dangerous and should be handled immediately. Call us at (877) 349-1231 for a free consultation with a licensed remediation expert available 24/7 near you.
How Quickly Can Mold Make You Sick?
There are several types of fungi that can be found in your house, down in the basement, or in the attic. Mold develops when the perfect environment is created, which is usually a combination of moisture, humidity, and organic material. Spores can migrate away from thriving colonies through the air, landing on shoes, blankets, showerheads, or your HVAC ductwork. As it spreads, it releases toxic chemicals called mycotoxins. These are the molecules that lead to illness.
Mold toxicity is considered a biotoxin illness, also called Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome. In this severe condition, there is a systemic inflammatory response that occurs after an individual has had intense exposure to toxigenic organisms. These organisms can include bacteria, mycobacterium, fungi, actinomycetes, and other inflammagens. It is common for people to suffer from an illness brought on by living conditions where water damage has occurred, and many of these individuals are unable to develop an antibody or immune response to mold toxins.
For those with a low antibody response, there is a genetic component that makes them more susceptible to a mold illness and toxicity. These individuals have the most severe reactions when exposed to mold in high quantities and for extended periods of time. For these individuals, they aren’t dealing with just a mold allergy. It is a persistent, inflammatory response that can cause serious health complications. Individuals with CIRS needs professional treatment in order to reset their immune system.
Almost everyone will experience some form of illness or response when their bodies are exposed to high enough levels of biotoxins, though each individual has a unique threshold or tolerance. There is no exact timeline for how soon a person will develop symptoms of mold exposure, but as mold spores rapidly multiply, individuals may experience certain discomforts within just a few hours of entering a mold-laden environment.
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What Happens When You Inhale Mold?
Breathing in mold spores is the most common way for mold spores to enter your system. Individual spores, unlike colonies of growth, are invisible to the naked eye. This makes it nearly impossible to know if you are ingesting spores into your nasal passages and letting them take root down in your lungs. Though mold will grow on old or decaying bard, most people won’t purposely eat a rotten tomato or moldy piece of bread. Penicillin is a form of mold that can be ingested, but this only occurs under the guidance of a physician for anti-microbial and wellness purposes. Toxicity levels are more likely to occur through inhaling the spores and creating a buildup that the body can no longer fight.
The body commonly processes toxins out of the body when it eliminates waste. Mold spores aren’t the only toxins your body has to eliminate, but inhaling heavy doses of mold spores can put a burden on the body’s natural toxin elimination system. When the toxic load gets too high, the body can’t detox. Instead, the mycotoxins may be recycled back into the body or reabsorbed until the body can try again. The toxic threshold varies by individual.
What are the Symptoms of Mold Inhalation?
Walking into a room where the mold spore count is high could have a significant effect on your response system. For those who have an allergic reaction to mold spores, the response is more immediate. These individuals may experience watery or itchy eyes, a runny nose, redness around the eyes, shortness of breath, or wheezing. Persistent exposure can create a nagging cough, asthma, or frequent sinusitis. As these symptoms sound much like the common cold or seasonal allergies, it can often be hard to narrow down the culprit as mold exposure.
As symptoms and severity are different for every person, it is difficult to say how long the symptoms will persist. Generally, the length of exposure, the type of mold that an individual has been exposed to, and the body’s natural health and detox process impact how long a person may struggle with a mold illness. Natural detoxing can see symptoms subside in a few days, particularly if the source of mold is eliminated or the individual leaves the environment where the mold is present.
How Can You Detox From Mold?
In addition to removing yourself from the environment where the mold is or having the mold removed, you can help your body detox the spores that have been inhaled and trapped inside. You can take supplements to build up your immune system, reestablish your gut health, and reduce inflammation:
- Biocidin: This will start to break up the biofilm and kill the mycotoxins in the body. It is recommended that you take one drop a day in the morning and work your way up to five drops three times a day. Do this for three days before adding the next supplement.
- Mimosa Pudica: This is another biofilm reducer and mycotoxins killer. Two pills should be taken in the mid-morning and just before dinner. Use this in conjunction with Biocidin for three days.
- Activated Charcoal: Taking five capsules twice for several days will help remove mycotoxins from your body. Activated charcoal is a binding agent, and it will bind to the toxins for easier elimination.
- Detox bath: Many people use detox baths of essential oils, herbs, bentonite clay, and Epsom salts to pull the unwanted mycotoxins from the body. A hot bath causes the body to sweat, which is a natural form of detoxification. The other elements can be soothing to rashes or skin conditions that may be associated with a mold allergy or illness.
Rather than trying to handle mold exposure on your own, you should consider seeing a physician. The situation may be more serious than you think.
When To See Your Doctor For Mold Exposure?
If your cold or flu-like symptoms persist, it may be time for a trip to the doctor. Even if you aren’t aware that mold could be causing your issues, a doctor may be able to make the correlations between your symptoms and CIRS. There are a number of more serious side effects of mold exposure that the doctor may ask if you’ve experienced. These include:
- Confusion and disorientation
- Chronic weakness and fatigue
- Cognitive delays and difficulties
- Hypersensitivity to bright lights
- Lightheadedness and vertigo
- Asthma or chronic respiratory conditions
- Joint pains, cramping, or muscle aches
Though your primary care physician is the place to start for an initial examination and consult for your symptoms, you may be referred to an allergist. There are tests that can be done to test for mold allergies, and these are usually done at an allergist’s office or allergy clinic.
- The skin prick test will take a diluted amount of a suspected allergen or those that may be commonly found around the area (such as mold spores local to the area) and expose the individual to them. The substances are applied to the skin of the back or the arm with tiny punctures. It is left on the skin for several minutes before being evaluated for an allergic reaction. Hives, or small raised bumps, may appear if the skin has an allergic response to the substance.
- A blood test may also be used to measure your body’s response to mold exposure. This test, called a radioallergosorbent test, measures the presence of specific antibodies in your blood. These immunoglobulin E antibodies fight off the toxic substance, and in a medical laboratory, these antibodies can be tested to reveal the specific sensitivities to the molds that they’ve been exposed to.
Those whose immune system has become severely compromised and who have developed serious respiratory conditions may be referred to a pulmonologist. These doctors address problems with the lungs and the respiratory system.
What Are the Treatments for Mold Exposure?
The first step in treating problems with mold exposure is to avoid the environment where the triggers are located. In short, the mold problem needs to be taken care of completely. If not, you will simply be managing the symptoms. It is also difficult to completely avoid any mold exposure, which means some medications or therapies will ease the symptoms rather than offer a cure. However, in conjunction with your physician, you should be able to enjoy an improved quality of life once you have had the mold removed and your immune system set back on track. Here are some of the treatments or medications that are used to address mold exposure.
- Antihistamines: For the runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, and itching that comes from exposure to mold, these medications can be helpful. They work by blocking the histamines, which are inflammatory chemicals the body naturally releases when attempting to address an allergic reaction. Common over-the-counter medications include Claritin, Allegra, Zyrtec, Xyzal, and Alavert. These have few side effects. Prescription nasal sprays like Patanase and Astelin are effective but often cause nasal dryness and leave a bitter taste in your mouth.
- Nasal corticosteroids: Nasal sprays can be used to treat upper respiratory responses to a mold allergy. Often considered the most effective allergy medications, these are typically one of the first things prescribed. Nasal dryness and nosebleeds can be side effects of these medications, but Nasonex, Rhinocort, Zetonna, and Xhance have been deemed safe for long-term use.
- Oral decongestant: These medications alleviate the stuffy nose and sinus pressure symptoms that can accompany an allergic response. These have been known to raise blood pressure, so only use them in conjunction with a physician’s approval. Sudafed and Drixoral are two of the more common decongestants.
- Montelukast: Sinclair is the name given for this tablet that blocks the work of leukotrienes. This alters the chemical response of the immune system that increases the production of mucus. It has been seen to be effective with both mold allergy exposure and allergic asthma.
- Immunotherapy: For individuals that have had severe exposure and have a weakened immune system, this treatment may be effective. In this series of allergy shots, the individual develops a natural resistance or tolerance for the allergen. There are only a few types of mold species where this can be used.
Lifestyle changes may also need to be made for an individual to recover from mold poison. The primary consideration is removing the source of the toxin, either through mold remediation and cleanup or by taking yourself out of the environment. If you have found mold in your home, don’t delay in having it removed. With a serious allergy to the substance, it isn’t advised that you undertake the cleaning on your own. Professional help is advised if you want to thoroughly remove the contaminant without making the problem worse.
How Can I Prevent a Relapse?
Mold spores can be found just about anywhere, whether inside or outside. However, you can take preventative measures to ensure they don’t breed into larger, toxic colonies. If there are water leaks in or around the house, have them repaired immediately. Dark, wet environments and plenty of organic material create the perfect home for mold growth. Keep your attic and basement or crawl space dry and free of moisture. Consider bringing in an environmental professional and having an ERMI mold test done every so often to evaluate your home for the presence of mold. There are DIY kits that can be purchased, but these results aren’t always accurate.
If you suspect that you have been exposed to mold, either because you have found mold in your home or you have had nagging symptoms similar to the ones discussed, make an appointment with your healthcare provider. As you make a plan to remove mold from your home and prevent future relapses, call the Mold Remediation team to have the mold problem removed.