The health of the human body depends on a variety of different factors. The environment, the food a person eats, and the amount of movement they get all plays a vital role in overall health. In some cases of environment, the home a person lives in can affect their health. That is especially true if their home has hidden mold. So does mold cause inflammation in the body?
Mold is a fungal growth that can take on many forms. For example, some types of cheese contain mold designed to enhance flavor. Typically, this mold is acceptable for consumption and overall health. However, other types, such as black mold, can harm people’s health if they inhale the spores. But how can harmful molds in the home environment cause inflammation? Read on to learn more.
What is inflammation?
Inflammation is a bodily process that functions as part of the immune system – and it can be both good and bad. The good side of inflammation stems from its ability to help the immune system find and attack pathogens. When a pathogen, such as a mold spore, enters the body, the immune system senses it. Inflammation develops at its location to single out that area for attack. That way, immune cells will know precisely where to go to fight off an infection.
However, this inflammatory process is supposed to be temporary. Once the threat is removed, the inflammation should go down as well. But chronic inflammation can occur, and when it does, immune cells designed to fight off infection go to areas of the body that don’t need them. This widespread and unnecessary release of infection-fighting cells can seriously harm the body over time.
What does chronic inflammation do to the body?
Chronic inflammation can harm the body in several ways. The first is by damaging healthy cells, tissues, and organs. Because the damage to the cells can be so severe, a person with chronic inflammation can experience scarring, tissue death, and DNA damage in cells. This can lead to diseases that can severely impact a person’s quality of life, or even lead to death.
Is there a connection between mold and inflammation?
Certain types of mold are considered dangerous to human health, and this is because of inflammation – that is, the way the body responds to pathogens, as mentioned above. Mold is a pathogen and contains substances that can set off a chain of reactions in the body leading to inflammation.
What is mold toxicity?
Mold toxicity, otherwise known as mold illness, occurs when mold spores enter the body and cause sickness. Mold is a fungus that contains harmful chemicals known as mycotoxins in its spores. People who come into regular contact with these toxic chemicals can experience varying degrees of illness.
For some, the effects of the exposure are mild and acute, and don’t cause any severe adverse effects or permanent damage. However, other cases of mold toxicity can lead to long-term health effects, such as issues with how the immune system functions and even cancer.
Mold toxicity occurs when mold spores are inhaled into the lungs, get through the skin, or are accidentally consumed in contaminated foods. In the case of inhalation, mold spores can cling to cavities in the lungs. The lungs’ environment allows them to grow even further, and when the spores colonize within the lungs, they can continue to thrive there, causing health issues.
Does mold toxicity cause inflammation?
Mold toxicity can lead to inflammation because of how the immune system responds to illness and foreign pathogens. In the case of lung infiltration, the inflammatory response has to show the immune cells where to attack, meaning it continuously occurs in the lungs as a response to the presence of mold spores.
This long-term infection caused by mold and the inflammation it causes leads to various health issues. While the initial inflammatory response is designed to help the body get rid of mold spores and toxicity, it doesn’t mean that the immune system will successfully get rid of the mold. In many cases of long-term mold exposure, the body cannot get rid of the infection, meaning chronic inflammation can occur.
As we mentioned, chronic inflammation leads to health issues. An inflammatory reactivity issue is one problem that can develop in the case of chronic inflammation caused by mold toxicity. This means the immune system no longer reacts appropriately, compromising immune health and potentially causing autoimmune diseases to develop.
What does mold toxicity feel like?
Since mold toxicity may vary in severity, how it feels may differ from person to person. In acute or mild cases, a patient may experience symptoms that present similarly to an allergic reaction. In these instances, toxicity is often referred to as mold allergy and is driven by the immune response.
Symptoms of mild toxicity can include:
- Runny nose
- Itchy skin and eyes
- Shortness of breath
- Sinus issues
These symptoms tend to be less severe than those experienced by people with a stronger inflammatory response. The symptoms of a more severe reaction to mold include:
- Brain fog
- Poor memory
- Abdominal pain
- Muscle pain that resembles fibromyalgia pain
- Unintended weight gain or loss
- Feelings of numbness or tingling in the arms, legs, or other areas of the body
- A metallic taste in the mouth
- Feeling dizzy or experiencing vertigo
- Ringing in the ears, otherwise known as tinnitus
- Bloating and other digestive distress
- Intolerance of certain foods
- Fatigue that causes issues with day-to-day living
- Mood changes
- Excessive thirst caused by dehydration
- Bed-wetting (children)
- Hair loss
A person with mold toxicity may not experience all these symptoms at once, but they tend to have at least some of the ones mentioned above.
How do you treat mold inflammation?
If inflammation is caused by mold toxicity, a person will undergo treatments targeting the mold instead of the inflammation. The first thing to do is eliminate mold exposure. That means if a person has mold growing in their house, they will have to have it professionally removed.
Other treatment options vary depending on how severe the symptoms and effects are. For example, nasal sprays or over-the-counter allergy medications can effectively treat acute or mild allergy-like symptoms. For more severe allergy symptoms, allergy shots or oral medicines are needed to reduce mucus buildup in the airways.
During this time, a person may also be asked to address the inflammation caused by mold toxicity by following an anti-inflammatory diet. This diet will include foods designed to reduce chronic or widespread inflammation. In some cases, supplements such as antioxidants and charcoal may be necessary to help get rid of the mold. These substances will bind to the toxin and eliminate it from the body.
To put it simply: most of the time, mold exposure is not safe. Mold can hide in unlikely places in the home, and because of that, you should never ignore symptoms of mold toxicity. If you experience any of these symptoms, see your healthcare provider as soon as possible.
Featured image by Andrew Small on Unsplash