Tuesday, June 15

Toxic Mold Allergy

Well, my bunny the diagnostician has figured it out again. Just as she figured out my hypoglycemia, and more generalized "sensitivities", she has now discerned why I keep getting sicker and sicker whenever I go up to the house: mold allergy. Toxic. In retrospect, it seems so obvious. The symptoms are like a checklist of how I've been feeling since Rusty and I started going to the house to clean it out. And the thing about mold: if you're allergic, the more you're exposed to the mold spores, the worse your reactions become. Yesterday's was particularly violent.

Here's the information packet Gini put together [with repetitions left as they are for the sake of emphasis]...


Health Effects of Toxic Molds

Although mold affects individuals differently and to different degrees, the following are some of the most common adverse health effects.

  • Respiratory problems---wheezing, difficulty in breathing
  • Nasal and sinus congestion
  • Eyes-burning, watery, reddened, blurry vision, light sensitivity
  • Dry, hacking cough
  • Sore throat
  • Nose and throat irritation
  • Shortness of breath and lung disease
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Skin irritation
  • Central nervous system problems (constant headaches, loss of memory, and mood changes)
  • Aches and pains
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Diarrhea
  • Immune suppression


[from Minn. & Cal. Health Depts.]

How am I exposed to indoor molds?

Mold is found everywhere, indoors and outdoors. It is common to find mold spores in the air of homes and growing on damp surfaces. Much of the mold found indoors comes from outdoor sources. Therefore, everyone is exposed to some mold on a daily basis without evident harm. Mold spores primarily cause health problems when they enter the air and are inhaled in large number. People can also be exposed to mold through skin contact and eating.

How much mold can make me sick?

It depends. For some people, a relatively small number of mold spores can cause health problems. For other people, it may take many more. The basic rule is, if you can see or smell it, take steps to eliminate the excess moisture, and to cleanup and remove the mold.

Who is at greater risk when exposed to mold?

Exposure to mold is not healthy for anyone inside buildings. It is important to quickly identify and correct any moisture sources before health problems develop. The following individuals appear to be at higher risk for adverse health effects of molds:

  • Infants and children
  • elderly
  • immune compromised patients (people with HIV infection, cancer chemotherapy, liver disease, etc.)
  • pregnant women
  • individuals with existing respiratory conditions, such as allergies, multiple chemical sensitivity, and asthma.

People with these special concerns should consult a physician if they are having health problems.

What symptoms are common?

Allergic reactions may be the most common health problem of mold exposure. Typical symptoms reported (alone or in combination) include:

  • respiratory problems, such as wheezing, and difficulty in breathing
  • nasal and sinus congestion
  • eyes-burning, watery, reddened, blurry vision, light sensitivity
  • dry, hacking cough
  • sore throat
  • nose and throat irritation
  • shortness of breath
  • skin irritation
  • central nervous system problems (constant headaches, memory problems, and mood changes)
  • aches and pains
  • possible fever


Relief from symptoms . . .

If you have a severe allergy to mold you should see a qualified medical doctor that specializes in allergies. You can get allergy shots that can "desensitize" you to mold and several other allergies like dust, pollen, grass, etc. Many people have recovered from mold allergy completely or at least have greatly reduced their allergy to mold.

You can get relief by reducing the amount of mold that you are exposed to, and/or limit the amount of time you are exposed to mold. See article Eliminating Mold.

Try using an antihistimine or a cold remedy that includes this and a nasal decongestant. For children, be careful that the remedy does not contain aspirin [danger of RYE syndrome if children are given aspirin].

Avoid cumulative mold allergen exposures:

Mold allergy symptoms may grow more severe with each successive allergen exposure. Like stacking blocks, one too many blocks causes the whole stack to topple triggering an allergy flare-up. It is important to reduce your exposure to airborne allergens, food allergens and animal allergens. 

Allergies can lead to asthma, especially in children, causing permanent lung damage. Fortunately, information about allergies and allergy control products can help people with mold allergies live normal lives.

The symptoms are like a checklist: got it, got it, got it, got it.....

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