Molds are very common in nature and are to some extent always present in both indoor and outdoor air. Humans have a natural tolerance to molds and most persons will not suffer adverse health effects from exposure to background levels of mold spores. Mold growth indoors can cause indoor levels to increase to elevated levels, a condition called mold amplification. Inhalation of a large number of mold spores can overwhelm the body’s natural defenses causing adverse health effects.
Allergic reactions are the most common health problems associated with being exposed to high levels of mold spores. These reactions may be similar to those of hay fever or exposure to high levels of pollen, such as headaches, sinus problems, congestion, sore throats, or coughing. These effects may be seasonal in nature. Many people experience allergic responses to molds in the fall when outdoor levels of molds are usually high.
Exposure to mold spores and their mycotoxins can lead to a variety of non-specific health problems such as:
- Sinus problems
- Respiratory problems (wheezing, coughing, difficulty breathing)
- Cold and flu-like symptoms (fever, muscle aches, fatigue)
- Sore throats
- Eye irritation
- Frequent bloody noses
The greatest factor affecting the development of health problems is individual sensitivity. Some people are naturally more sensitive to the molds than others. When a family is living in a house with high levels of mold spores, often only one or two family members will suffer any health problems while the other family members experience no ill effects. Persons that are most at risk include kids, the elderly, and the immune-compromise patients, such as those undergoing chemotherapy or suffering from liver problems.
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