Black mold is a type of fungus that is usually dark in appearance and appears in warm and moist environments in your home such as your shower enclosure or bathroom. It can spread and grow across many different types of materials, such as wood or even paper.
Most people don’t seem to care much when they see mold and will either scrape it off or even paint over it. However, mold is living and black mold especially is toxigenic, which means it can release irritating or harmful toxins.\
The threat of black mold poisoning
When there are high concentrations of black mold, they can produce many toxins that could cause otherwise healthy people to suffer from a variety of different symptoms. These toxins, known as mycotoxins, can cause existing conditions such as asthma to worsen over time if they’re not dealt with.
Diagnosing black mold poisoning
One of the best ways to diagnose for mold poisoning is to take a blood test. Your doctor will request a sample of blood and it will be sent to a laboratory to test for a reaction. Another method is to use a skin prick test. This involves a doctor taking small amounts of the mold and apply it to your skin with a tiny needle. This is to test how your skin reacts. If you break out with itchy bumps and rashes, then it’s a sign you are allergic to that type of mold.
Symptoms of black mold poisoning
Some of the most common symptoms of mold poisoning (also known as mycotoxicosis) include the following:
- Stuffiness in the nose
- Irritated eyes
- Itchy skin
Since mycotoxicosis affects your upper respiratory system, you’ll often experience flu-like symptoms. However, the mycotoxins can prove incredibly harmful or even fatal to people with pre-existing conditions. If you experience the following symptoms, then it’s worth speaking to a doctor:
- Heavy coughing
- Breathing difficulties
- Allergic reactions
Long-term exposure to mold can even cause the following:
- Stomach pains
- Hair loss
- Memory loss
- Muscle cramps
Preventing black mold in the home
First, it’s important to identify black mold. Look for groups of black growths in areas of your home that are prone to moisture, such as your bathroom. Once you’ve identified the patches of black mold, you’ll need to figure out why that area has excess moisture. It could be that your bathroom doesn’t exhaust steam quickly enough, or it could be because there’s a leak in the foundation of your home.
Make sure you use windows to ventilate hot air when bathing or showering, and ensure that your extractor fan is working if your bathroom has no window. In other areas, an air purifier or dehumidifier can help keep the indoor air clean and free of moisture.
Since a lot of black mold growth can be caused by unseen structural problems, it’s worth considering a tool such as Flo to help you detect leaks around the home. It can help track and report water usage, so leaks can be quickly identified and dealt with before the mold has a chance to grow and spread.