Experiencing coughing, wheezing and allergy symptoms? You may have a mould problem. When exposed to mould spores, anyone with or without allergies may experience irritation of the nose, throat and lungs as a result.
Living or working in a damp indoor environment can cause a number of health problems like asthma and respiratory problems. In this article we will look at the health effects of mould on the lungs, symptoms to look out for and how to prevent mould from occurring. Let’s dive in.
What is Mould?
Mould is a type of fungus. It thrives in damp and poorly ventilated areas and loves growing in moist environments with little or no sunlight. When exposed to moisture, household items like wood, carpet and gyprock are ideal places for mould to grow. Mould reproduces by releasing particles (or spores) into the air that can be dangerous if inhaled.
Mould and the Lungs
Inhaling mould spores can lead to allergic reactions or infections, especially for people with weak immune systems or respiratory diseases. Some types of mould can even enter your lungs and cause severe health problems.
Symptoms of Mould In the Lungs
The majority of health issues caused by mould in the lungs are linked to the Aspergillus strain of mould. While reactions to this strain of mould are rare, different variations of this strain can affect the body in different ways. Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA) is a rare problem in the lungs caused by a severe allergic reaction to the Aspergillus fungus. In the case of ABPA, the fungus can cause allergy like symptoms. These include:
- Shortness of breath
- Unwell feeling
In very rare cases, immunocompromised people may experience an invasive type of aspergillosis. For these individuals, mould can form a ball in your lungs, a condition called Aspergilloma. Aspergillomas form when the fungus grows in a clump in a lung cavity typically created by a previous condition like tuberculosis, lung cancer or cystic fibrosis. Symptoms include:
- Chest pain
- Coughing up blood
- Weight loss
Health Effects of Mould Inhalation
Small spots or patches of mould are typically harmless, however when it starts to grow and spread, it can become a problem. For those with respiratory diseases or weak immune systems, inhaling mould may cause breathing issues, allergic reactions or, in more severe cases, lung infections.
The Aspergillus strain, or Aspergillus fumigatus is responsible for most health problems associated with mould. In fact, a 2014 study found that almost 2.5% of people with asthma have an allergic reaction to the Aspergillus mould type.
Symptoms of Mould Inhalation
When mould reproduces, it releases tiny spores that circulate through the air – so when we inhale these spores, it may cause health problems without us even realising it. People who are allergy-prone or sensitive to mould, may exhibit exposure symptoms such as:
- Eye Irritations
In more serious cases, prolonged mould inhalation may cause vomiting, nausea and respiratory complications.
If we heavily expose ourselves to mould, either through contact or inhalation, it sometimes triggers an inflammatory reaction. Over time, persistent inflammation may filter into other health issues such as hormonal imbalances, sleep disturbance and autoimmune complications. If you are sensitive to mould or have underlying health conditions you may experience the following mould poisoning symptoms:
- Brain fog
- Hormonal changes
- Abdominal pain
- Constant fatigue
- Sleep disturbances
If you suspect you may be suffering from long-term mould poisoning, speak with your GP or healthcare professional and reach out to a professional mould removal specialist.
Who is Most at Risk from Inhaling Mould?
Some people are more sensitive to mould than others.
Those with existing allergies are usually more at risk than others, especially during allergy season and may experience allergy symptoms – especially throat, eye and sinus irritations.
Children and the elderly are also susceptible to adverse reactions to mould exposure. While children still have developing immune systems, the older demographics are naturally more susceptible to developing infections and incur a prolonged recovery period.
Meanwhile, individuals with compromised/weakened immune systems may include:
- Patients recovering from surgery
- HIV/AIDS patients
- Cancer patients and those undergoing chemotherapy
In these cases, extra caution is advised. If you suspect you have a mould problem in your home, reach out to a professional mould remediation service to eradicate the problem.
Causes of Moisture and Mould
Warm and damp environments provide the perfect conditions for mould to grow and spread. Bathrooms, showers, ceilings and kitchens are common places to find mould in the home due to high levels of moisture and condensation. Mould growth is often a result of:
- Poor ventilation
- Buildup of condensation
- Water damaged or flooded areas
- Wet clothes left in washing machine
- Not cleaning spills or wet areas
- Untreated plumbing problems
Find more about the causes of mould in the home.
How To Prevent Mould In Your Home
The best way to prevent mould and damp in your home is to control moisture levels. Key steps you can take include:
- Fix all leaks promptly (ideally within 24 hours)
- Increase adequate ventilation
- Keep indoor humidity below 50%
- Run exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchen when in use
- Regularly clean mould prone spaces such as bathrooms, wardrobes, kitchens and poorly lit areas
Common Types of Mould Found In Australian Homes
Mould growth is a common occurrence in Australian homes, with thousands of species in existence.
Some common mould types you might find around the house include:
- Aspergillus: One of the most common types of mould in Australian homes, Aspergillus, is typically found in bathrooms, window frames and accumulated dust. It spreads easily and is known to cause respiratory discomfort and lead to more serious health conditions.
- Stachybotrys Chartarum: Stachybotrys Chartarum, also known as ‘toxic black mould’ is commonly found in water damaged building materials like wallpaper and ceiling tiles. Inhaling toxic black mould spores and lead to a burning discomfort in the mouth, throat and nasal passages, with prolonged exposure resulting in more serious health concerns.
- Cladosporium: Cladosporium is commonly found in indoor areas lacking natural light and adequate ventilation, such as bathrooms, window sills and A/C units. When matured, this species will appear dark in colour.
- Alternaria: Alternaria is typically found in clothes, fabrics, wallpapers and window frames. It is known to cause allergy symptoms, respiratory illness and hypersensitive reactions.
Book A Free Inspection Today
If you are afraid of mould becoming a problem in your home and are looking for a long-term solution, be sure to call upon a professional team to help you. The MouldMen team will inspect, treat and provide you with a Mould Management and Prevent Plan to ensure that your home is kept safe and free from mould. Call us on 1300 60 59 60 to book your free inspection today.