Regardless of common risk factors such as humidity in the surrounding environment or the age of your home, mold (including black mold) can make its way into your air ducts, basements, bathrooms, kitchen, or almost anywhere in your house. Exposure to black mold in particular can cause various health problems. If you have never suffered from the symptoms of mold exposure, consider yourself lucky because they are extremely unpleasant and can be frustrating to diagnose and treat.
Mold is a type of fungus that flourishes in damp, warm environments. It can reproduce by forming mold spores that cannot be detected by the naked human eye. These spores move around in the air and settle down wherever there is a moist environment. As the name suggests, black mold (including Stachybotrys chartarum and Stachybotrys atra) can be identified by its greenish or grayish black color. It also has a very distinctive musty or mildew-like odor. Black mold can produce toxins that are poisonous and hence is often referred to as “toxic black mold.” Stachybotrys chartarum and Aspergillus niger are two of the most commonly occurring black molds that produce mycotoxins (which lead to black mold symptoms), but these are not the only toxigenic strains. However, note that not all black molds themselves are toxic.
Where can you find black mold?
Black mold is usually found in high cellulose content surfaces like fiberboard, wood, paper, lint or dust. In between sheets of drywall or air ducts are some of the places where black mold is also commonly found. Moisture is black mold’s best friend. Without proper maintenance and care, black mold can grow nearly anywhere.
The symptoms of mold exposure range from allergies to chronic inflammation and, in extreme cases, can even be fatal. These black mold symptoms are not something you should take lightly as lengthened exposure can cause greater health problems. The severity of toxic mold symptoms depends mainly on the degree of exposure. Because many symptoms can be attributed to toxic mold, we’ve broken them up into the following categories:
Due to the inhalation of spores produced by black molds, people often suffer from inflammation caused by an allergic reaction. But unlike seasonal allergies, these symptoms do not subside and can require immediate medical attention. Allergic black mold symptoms include:
- Throat irritation, bronchitis, sinusitis, asthma, and general lung irritation due to coughing, wheezing and sneezing
- Irritation in eyes
- Skin Rashes
- Foggy memory or confusion
- General fatigue and lethargy
- Flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, or diarrhea
- Abdominal pain
- Muscle pains and cramps
- Metallic taste in the mouth
- Temperature regulation issues and incessant sweating
The spores that enter your body through the respiratory system eventually make it to your bloodstream which enables them to travel throughout your body and subsequently to affect the heart and the circulatory system.
Black mold symptoms related to the circulatory system include bone marrow disruption, clotting of blood, bruising, internal bleeding, heart inflammation, irregularity of heartbeat, low blood pressure, and blood in vomit. More severe symptoms can lead to heart attack or long-term heart damage.
The chemical released by black mold is a serious threat to our immune system. Immunocompromised individuals are not be able to fight off infections and viruses as quickly or efficiently as those with healthy immune systems.
Black Mold symptoms of a compromised immune system can result in major vulnerability to infections, immunosuppression, slow recovery from illnesses, repeated infections and in the worst cases can even cause cancer.
The trichothecene mycotoxin produced by black mold is a neurotoxin that kills the neurons and damages the functioning of the brain after it enters our bloodstream. Resulting black mold symptoms that affect the mental ability of our brains include anxiety, apathy, brain fog, aggression, and confusion, and they can greatly affect a person’s attention span.
Other symptoms include depression, disorientation, hallucinations, migraines, dizziness, memory loss, fainting, lethargy, panic attacks, and seizures. Black mold symptoms can also affect a person’s personality. It greatly affects young children and infants as their mental development is delayed and in some cases also causes Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), which is the sudden unexplained death of a child less than one year of age.
Women are often told to take special care of themselves during pregnancy. If a woman comes into contact with black mold and inhales the mycotoxins released, it can cause unimaginable damage. These toxins can affect not only the fetus during pregnancy but also cause birth defects, prevent the protein synthesis in RNA and DNA and cause many other hormonal and reproductive diseases.
Black mold symptoms related to the reproductive system include infertility, impotence, miscarriage, hormonal imbalance, fetal development issues, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and excessive menstrual bleeding.
The mycotoxins produced by black mold enter your body through the respiratory system and thus it is one of the systems affected most by the initial exposure. These toxins and spores irritate the mouth, throat, and nose and affect the mucous membranes of your lungs and sinus cavities. This causes inflammation and can eventually lead to pulmonary hemorrhage (bleeding lungs). These mold symptoms are usually very similar to allergic symptoms but are much more threatening to our lives. Black mold symptoms related to the respiratory system include coughing, wheezing, nosebleeds, runny nose, sore throat, and sinusitis. Other symptoms include inflammation of the mouth, lungs or throat and swelling of the lungs, which lead to shortness of breath and other respiratory infections.
Bringing your skin into contact with black mold can lead to a number of issues. Black mold symptoms related to the skin include severe skin disorders like rashes, blisters, dermatitis, jaundice and a very frustrating sensation of “crawling skin.”
One other way the spores can enter your body apart from skin contact or the respiratory system is through your eyes. The resulting black mold symptoms include red eyes, inflammation of the eyes, blurry vision, jaundice and light sensitivity. Black mold can also cause long-term eye damage and vision problems.
Diagnosing black mold symptoms can be a lengthy process requiring numerous tests and visits to various specialists. If you’ve been experiencing any of these black mold symptoms, see your doctor immediately. While diagnosing and treating your symptoms, take steps to prevent further black mold exposure by eliminating the cause. Seek professional help in the form of mold testing and remediation.