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Apr 11, 2023

11 minutes

Mold Exposure: Symptoms + How To Test

A fungus (mold) grows in a moist environment or areas of your home. A few molds are toxic and harmful to humans, while others are not. The poisonous mold produces a substance known as mycotoxins, which can cause various health issues for us.

You can get infected by mold exposure at home, in your office, or any other indoor environment. That can lead to symptoms like allergies, rashes, respiratory infections, and skin irritation. This guide will delve into the symptoms of mold exposure and how you can test it. We’ll cover everything from common indoor species to diagnosis and management. Let’s get started.

What is Mold?

Mold, a type of fungi, can be found outdoors and indoors. Outside mold plays a vital role in decomposing organic matter in the environment; indoor growth can lead to various human health issues, such as allergies and infections for some individuals.

Numerous species of mold can grow in indoor environments, and some can be detrimental to specific individuals’ health. Several mold types can grow in the exact location, and testing is often necessary to identify the specific kind. However, it’s only sometimes crucial to know the mold’s species to eradicate it.

Most Common Indoor Molds

Below are the most commonly found indoor mold types:

1. Cladosporium

Cladosporium is a mold that may appear in shades of brown, green, or black. It can grow in hot and cold areas and is frequently found on wood, carpets, fabrics, and heating/cooling ducts.

2. Penicillium

Penicillium is a fuzzy mold that can look blue, green, or yellow. It is frequently discovered under carpets, basements, and insulation, especially after water damage.

3. Aspergillus

Aspergillus is a powdery mold that may be green, white, or gray with dark spots. It can grow in walls, attics, basements, fabrics, and dry food items and only requires a little ventilation to thrive.

4. Alternaria

Alternaria is a fuzzy mold that is white with black spots. It commonly grows in fabrics, wallpaper, near windows, air conditioners, bathrooms, and kitchens.

5. Aureobasidium

Aureobasidium is a pink mold with black spots most commonly found on wood, walls, caulking, and grout.

6. Stachybotrys Chartarum

Stachybotrys Chartarum, often known as black mold, is a greenish-black mold that develops on materials with high cellulose content, such as fiberboard, gypsum board (drywall), and paper.

7. Trichoderma

Trichoderma is a creamy white mold that turns green when it releases spores. It is often discovered on wood, windows, bathrooms, and kitchens.

Identifying and removing mold in indoor environments is critical for maintaining a healthy environment. Understanding the different types of mold that can be present in indoor spaces is a vital step in the process.

What Are The Symptoms Of Mold Exposure In Humans?

Mold exposure can cause various symptoms in humans, which may vary depending on the mold type and the exposure level. Some people may experience seasonal mold poisoning symptoms, while others may have year-round symptoms. It’s important to note that mold poisoning can affect people differently, with some showing no signs.

Mold Allergy Symptoms

People with allergies are more susceptible to mold exposure. Living in a home with unhealthy mold conditions or being exposed to mold at work or school can cause mold allergy symptoms, such as:

  • Runny or stuffy nose.
  • Eye irritation (watering, redness, itching).
  • Sore or dry throat.
  • Dry cough or sneezing.
  • Skin irritation (rash, scaling).
  • Wheezing or shortness of breath.
  • General malaise.
  • Brain fog (difficulty focusing).

Continued exposure to mold can worsen these symptoms and exacerbate pre-existing health conditions such as asthma and lung disease.

Mold Infection Symptoms

Mold infections are rare but may occur in individuals with weakened immune systems due to medications, diseases, or lifestyle factors such as smoking and alcohol use. Those with previous lung problems are also at a higher risk. Initially, a mold infection may not show any symptoms, but over time, it may cause:

  • Fever.
  • Chest pain.
  • Wheezing or difficulty breathing.
  • Wet cough (with mucus or blood).

If you experience these symptoms, you must consult a doctor and follow their advice closely to prevent inflammation and manage the condition.

Inhaling mold spores may cause a fungal infection and asthma symptoms

Symptoms After You Eat Something Moldy

Consuming food that has mold on it can cause unpleasant symptoms, such as:

  • Vomiting.
  • Nausea.
  • Diarrhea.

Even the thought of eating something moldy can make you feel sick. Feeling nauseous is the only symptom you’ll experience after eating stale food. However, if your immune system isn’t working correctly, moldy food can cause more severe symptoms. Additionally, eating stale food can trigger allergy symptoms if you have an allergy to mold.


When a person experiences symptoms of an allergy, such as sneezing, coughing, or itchy eyes, they may visit a doctor to determine the cause of their symptoms. To confirm the presence of an allergy, doctors may use different tests.

Physical Examination For Allergy Diagnosis

In addition to considering a patient’s signs and symptoms, a doctor may perform a physical examination to identify or exclude other medical problems that may cause similar symptoms.

Skin Prick Test

The skin prick test is one of the most common tests to identify allergies. During this test, a doctor applies diluted amounts of common or suspected allergens, such as mold, to the skin on the patient’s arm or back with tiny punctures. If the patient is allergic to the allergen, they will develop a raised bump, or hive, at the site of the prick.

Blood Test

Another test that doctors may use to identify allergies is a blood test, also known as the radioallergosorbent test. This test measures the number of specific antibodies in the patient’s bloodstream, called immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies, in response to mold. The blood sample is sent to a medical laboratory for testing.

Managing Mold Allergy: Medications and Other Treatments

The best way to manage a mold allergy is to avoid exposure to triggers, but since molds are common, it is impossible to avoid them altogether. In cases where exposure cannot be avoided, several medications and other treatments can ease mold allergy symptoms.

Medications for Mold Allergy

1. Nasal Corticosteroids

Nasal corticosteroids help prevent and treat the inflammation caused by mold allergy. They are usually the first medication prescribed and, for many people, the most effective allergy medication. Common examples of nasal corticosteroids include ciclesonide, fluticasone, mometasone, triamcinolone, and budesonide. Nosebleeds and nasal dryness are the most common side effects, but these medications are generally safe for long-term use.

2. Antihistamines

Antihistamines block histamine, an inflammatory chemical the immune system releases during an allergic reaction. These medications can help with itching. Prescription nasal sprays like azelastine and olopatadine can also be used, but side effects can include a bitter taste in the mouth and nasal dryness.

3. Oral Decongestants

OTC oral decongestants like Sudafed 12 Hour and Drixoral Cold and Allergy can raise blood pressure, so it is best to avoid them if you have high blood pressure. Other possible side effects include insomnia, loss of appetite, palpitations, anxiety, and restlessness.

4. Decongestant Nasal Sprays

Decongestant nasal sprays, such as oxymetazoline, should not be used for more than three or four days because they can cause congestion to come back with worse symptoms when you stop using them. Other possible side effects include headaches, insomnia, and nervousness.

5. Montelukast

Montelukast is a tablet taken to block the action of leukotrienes, immune system chemicals that cause allergy symptoms such as excess mucus. However, concerns about side effects, including anxiety, insomnia, depression, and suicidal thinking, are increasing. The US Food and Drug Administration has recently put a warning on the box about the drug’s use. This medication is not as effective as inhaled corticosteroids and is used when nasal sprays are not tolerated or when mild asthma is present.

Mold on Wall Indoors

Other Treatments For Mold Allergy

1. Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy, a series of allergy shots, can be very effective for some allergies, such as hay fever. Allergy shots are used for only certain types of mold allergy.

2. Nasal Lavage

To help with irritating nasal symptoms, your doctor might recommend that you rinse your nose daily with salt water. Use a specially designed squeeze bottle, bulb syringe, or neti pot to rinse your nasal passages. This home remedy, nasal lavage, can help keep your nose free of irritants.

Use distilled, sterile, previously boiled, and cooled water or filtered using a filter with an absolute pore size of 1 micron or smaller to make up the irrigation solution. Be sure to rinse the irrigation device after each use with similarly distilled, sterile, previously boiled and cooled, or filtered water and leave it open to air-dry.

Reduce the Risk of Mold Exposure

Although it’s not possible to completely prevent a black mold allergy, you can take steps to reduce the growth of black mold by following these suggestions:

  • Keep the humidity in your home between 30% and 50% to avoid creating a favorable environment for black mold to grow.
  • Promptly fix any water leaks in your plumbing, walls, or roof to prevent water damage and mold growth.
  • If carpets, rugs, textiles, drywall, or ceiling tiles become wet, ensure they are appropriately dried or disposed of to prevent mold growth.
  • Use exhaust fans in your kitchen and bathroom to help reduce humidity levels.
  • Install a high-quality air filter in your HVAC system, ensure no leaks, and have it serviced regularly by professionals.

To minimize the signs of a mold allergy, an individual can take the following steps:

  • Shut the windows during cold nights to lower moisture levels.
  • Wear a dust mask when gardening.
  • Remain indoors during damp weather, after rainfall, or when the mold count is elevated.
  • One should use appropriate safety equipment if cleaning mold in an industrial environment or after a natural calamity.

Signs You Are Affected By Mold Exposure

If you are allergic to black mold, you may experience symptoms around moldy environments. Since mold spores are ubiquitous, it is not possible to avoid them entirely. Nonetheless, you can decrease your exposure to high levels of mold spores by ensuring that your home has no conditions promoting black mold growth.

If you manage to minimize your exposure, medications may aid in reducing your symptoms. You may achieve an asymptomatic state through immunotherapy after exposure to black mold, where you no longer experience allergic reactions. It is advisable to seek a diagnosis from your healthcare provider or allergist if you suspect you have a black mold allergy.

Who Is Most Susceptible To Health Issues Related To Mold Exposure?

People with allergies may be susceptible to molds, while those with weakened immune systems or underlying lung problems may be more vulnerable to fungal infections. People with chronic respiratory disease (asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder) may experience breathing difficulties.

Those with weakened immune systems are also at a higher risk of mold-related infections. If you or your loved ones have any of these conditions, seeking medical advice from a qualified healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment is best. Also, take steps to control mold. It’ll help with black mold exposure and disease control.

The Contrast Between Black Mold And Mildew!

The term “mildew” is not clearly defined. Some individuals use it to describe the surface discoloration caused by molds, while others use it to describe particular types of mold.

Final Thoughts

Mold exposure can lead to various health issues and symptoms, such as allergies, respiratory infections, skin irritation, and even more severe conditions. Understanding the different types of mold that can grow in indoor environments is crucial for identifying and removing them to maintain a healthy living environment.

Symptoms of mold exposure can vary depending on the mold type and exposure level; some individuals may not experience any symptoms. If you suspect mold exposure, it’s essential to seek medical advice and conduct testing to identify the specific mold type for proper treatment and prevention.

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Looking for excellent instructional materials on how to repair your crawl space and enhance the indoor air quality of your home? You’ve come to the right place! We cover everything from crawl space encapsulations, waterproofing, mold, insulation and more.