Coughing Due to Mold Exposure

One of the first symptoms most people think about when they hear the term "mold exposure" is coughing. This article will discuss the role of humidity and in-house mold, what happens if you inhale mold spores, what kind of mold makes you cough, will mold removal help with mold exposure coughs, and what to do for mold removal.

What does humidity have to do with mold?

Mold requires moisture to thrive and can grow on furniture, carpets, food, and clothing. Molds produce spores that are released into the air and spread throughout your house. This is how people and animals end up inhaling them and end up having health issues due to mold exposure.

High humidity indoors can result when the air is humid outdoors in the summer and there's no air conditioning inside the home. The relative humidity is pretty high - in the 70 percentile. Although this is for outdoor air, the relative humidity outdoors will increase indoor humidity if there are no measures taken to control it.

In-house mold can become a crisis to deal with when indoor house humidity exceeds the level recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Once the indoor relative humidity or dampness in the air is higher than 60 percent, there's enough moisture for mold to start growing. The EPA states that the ideal humidity range to prevent mold is 30 to 50%.

Water leaks and other moisture issues can also increase the humidity levels indoors. Any water that leaks out into the carpet or other areas fills the air with moisture as it tries to evaporate. As a result, mold can start growing and producing spores that are released into the air.

What will happen if you inhale mold spores?

The health effects of inhaling mold spores are fairly well understood these days. We also know what happens when mold removal is performed in the mold-affected environment where you are living or working.

As early as 1975, doctors and scientists reported on negative reactions that occur with mold exposure and, specifically, inhalation. In one study, 10 patients had inhaled massive amounts of mold that caused a toxic reaction in their lungs. The tests that the doctors ran did not show that the patients had any allergies to the molds, but their lung tests were a different matter.

These tests showed that the bronchioles of the lung were loaded with large numbers of at least five different types of mold. The doctors followed up on the patients between one and 10 years and concluded that the way to prevent additional toxic reactions in the lungs was to avoid massive re-exposure to the fungal dust. (This can be done with mold removal strategies from a company, such as the Mold KO.)

Farmer's Lung

In 1977, the Canadian Medical Association Journal included a report on a lung disease called farmer's lung. Farmers inhaling spores from moldy hay had an immune system reaction to the mold spores. That type of reaction damages the lungs.

Mold spore exposure through inhalation sometimes cannot be avoided on the job, but it is still nevertheless a health problem to be concerned about, whether the spores are coming from indoor air or outdoor air. It's such a big problem that many companies have hired us over the years for mold removal to minimize the mold exposure of their employees in the work environment.

What's in the Air Can Damage the Lungs

In 2001, it was well known that the environment contained chemical pollutants and allergens that reduced lung function. Breathing them in was directly related to lung damage.

Aspergillus Mold Loves Lung Tissue

Dublin, Ireland, researchers at the Beaumont Hospital reported on what happened when spores from a common household mold - Aspergillus - were inhaled. The article in the journal Biomedical Research International clearly stated that mold spores triggered a series of reactions.

The severity of the reaction was determined by the patient's immune system strength. If the person had a well-working immune system, an allergic response occurred.

Those with weakened immune systems didn't fare too well. In them, the Aspergillus spores invade the lungs and cause either an allergic reaction or a growth called a fungus ball in the lung where there has been scarring or disease in the past.

Although the article didn't mention anything about the patients' homes, it would have been an important part of the puzzle to consider. Mold exposure in the home can only be fixed with proper mold removal.

In 2015, scientists at North Dakota State University reported in their study that appeared in the journal Current Allergy & Asthma Reports that Aspergillus fungi love living in the warmth and comfort of human lungs. These fungi cause mold, cough, and other symptoms.

One particular type of Aspergillus called Aspergillus fumigatus - if living in the lungs - can cause "tremendous morbidity and high mortality if left unchecked." That means serious illness and death. Repeated mold exposure often results in an immune response that worsens asthma and changes the structure of the lung, leaving it impaired in its functions.

That is why it's so important to get your home regularly inspected for mold and perform immediate mold removal if any is found. This will prevent mold exposure to you and your family and help avoid the negative health consequences of mold.

Scientists Discovered Why Inhaled Spores Cause Problems

In one study from 2020, a team of researchers from Hunters College and Queens College in New York ran a study where toxic mold Stachybotrys spores were inhaled by mice. The scientists found that the spores increased the immune system reactivity, making it overreact to the spores. This resulted in the little mice having mold coughs.

There was also a decrease in the number of new nerve cells, plus memory deficits in young mice and changes in memory in old mice. Lower pain thresholds and anxiety-like behavior were observed as well. They concluded that their results explain why inhaled spores cause cognitive and emotional dysfunction as well as allergies.

What type of mold can make you cough?

Any mold exposure can make people with weakened immune systems cough, but it may also cause coughing and wheezing in healthy people, according to the Institute of Medicine in their 2004 report.

The most common molds found in almost all environments are listed below. Each one is associated with a mold cough as one of the symptoms that occur from being exposed to them.

  • Cladosporium
  • Penicillium
  • Alternaria
  • Aspergillus

Other common molds such as Fusarium, Trichosporon, Cryptococcus, and Stachybotrys are also known to cause coughs. Fungi in the species Mucorales, which include Rhizopus, Rhizomucor, and Mucor, are also associated with mold coughs.

It's possible that any type of fungi can give you a mold cough. It's up to your physician to do appropriate tests to see what species is causing the cough and the illness. Then, it's up to you to find out where the mold exposure is coming from in your home and get mold removal services done to address the issue.

What does a mold cough feel like?

The type of cough you have from mold varies depending on the type of mold. There are thousands of molds, and each has its own specific set of symptoms from mold exposure via inhalation of the spores. Some molds present a set of symptoms that includes coughing up blood, while others give you a dry mold cough.

Some fungi result in itchy eyes, nose, and throat, along with a mold cough, while others don't. Other molds may cause rashes or infections in the skin, while others in the same genus don't harm the skin but cause pneumonia.

Below is a table that lists some of the additional symptoms from specific mold genus types. Remember, though, that each category can have hundreds of different species within it, each with its own characteristic symptoms.

How do you get rid of a moldy cough?

First of all, seek medical help if you are experiencing mold exposure symptoms. Don't wait and think they will go away on their own. The symptoms may resolve temporarily, but re-exposure will worsen them over time. You'll need a physician to run the appropriate tests to determine what type of infectious agent is causing the cough.

The next step is to remove mold from your home with the help of our Mold KO services. Our mold specialists inspect the mold-affected area and remove it in the most efficient way possible. Removing mold from homes is something we have been experts in at Mold KO for over 10 years.

What our clients continue to tell us is that as soon as we remove the mold, they see a noticeable improvement in their symptoms. Whereas they may have developed a headache or mold cough as soon as they walked into their home before, they can now stay in the home for as long as they want without a headache or mold cough. This is a testimony to the effectiveness of our services.

Taking Your Next Step

Mold spores are found in the air and are inhaled without trying. Living in a climate with humidity above 50% increases the chances that mold will affect your health. However, you can make adjustments to your indoor air and decrease the level of in-house mold contamination. This can result in an immediately noticeable difference in the symptoms that may be occurring from mold spore exposure.

Since mold spores affect the reactivity of the immune system and will precipitate future reactions with additional mold exposure, it makes sense to take care of the problem with mold removal as soon as possible. Calling Mold KO today is your first step in the right direction.

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