Mold belongs to the fungus family of organisms that can be found in most places. They actually play a key role in the decomposition of leaves, bark, trees and plants in nature. Indoors, however, mold can be an inconvenience, causing discoloration on walls, ceilings, and floors. If people are exposed to mold, they may also be at risk of developing certain health conditions. Learn more about the dangers, symptoms, and mold exposure treatment below.
Why is Mold a Health Risk?
When mold is present on a surface, it can release spores into the air which can then be inhaled or touched. If the mold grows on food, it may also be ingested when eaten. Although mild exposure will not harm a reasonably healthy person, it could be a problem to sensitive individuals such as young children and the elderly, and those who are immuno-compromised, such as those who are sick or suffering from health issues such as asthma or bronchitis.
Symptoms of Mold Poisoning
Mold exposure can lead to mycotoxicosis or mold poisoning. Some of its symptoms include:
– stuffy or runny nose
– itchy skin
– itchy or bloodshot eyes
– cold- or flu-like symptoms
Long-term exposure to mold can also lead to numbness in the extremities, confusion, memory loss, anxiety, hair loss, photosensitivity, muscle cramps, and stomach pains.
Mold Exposure Treatment
Mold exposure can be confirmed through a blood test or a skin prick test. The samples are sent to a laboratory where they are tested for antibodies to certain mold species. The tests will help confirm an exposure or poisoning and identify the type of mold that caused the infection.
Once the diagnosis is made, treatment may then be prescribed. The type of treatment that you may receive will depend on the symptoms and type of mold that was identified. In general, however, treatment will be made to address the most immediate symptoms. Some of these treatments may include:
Decongestant Nasal Sprays
Decongestants such as oxymetazoline help alleviate the symptoms of a stuffy nose. These medications are usually prescribed to be used for 3-4 days only because overuse can worsen congestion. If decongestants are used for more days than are recommended, they may lead to side effects such as headaches, anxiety, nervousness, and insomnia.
Over-the-counter decongestants may be used effectively to treat stuffy noses. The symptoms should subside after the first treatment. Decongestants should be used with care, however, because they can increase blood pressure and palpitations in some people.
Antihistamines are prescribed as treatment against allergy-like symptoms that may include sneezing, runny nose, or itching. Antihistamines block the action of the inflammatory chemical known as histamine to prevent the immune system from reacting against a known stimulus. Antihistamines may either be prescribed or purchased over-the-counter. They are very effective but they can cause drowsiness in most individuals.
If symptoms are more severe, montelukast may be prescribed. This is an oral tablet that blocks a type of chemical produced by the immune system called leukotrienes. These chemicals cause excessive mucus in the system. Montelukast is effective in helping alleviate the symptoms of allergic asthma.
Immunotherapy is a treatment wherein the patient is exposed to a series of shots that will help expose him/her to specific mold allergens. This is an effective treatment for some individuals who may respond positively to the therapy.
A nasal lavage is a simple treatment that may even be done at home. The lavage is performed using a neti pot, syringe, or squeeze bottle. A sterile saline solution is then used to rinse the nose. The solution helps remove irritants from the nasal passage and decongest a stuffy nose, making it easier to breathe.