Black mold is a common culprit when it comes to unexplained illnesses such as persistent headaches and migraines. What makes this mold such a devious danger is the fallout of black mold poisoning can often be attributed to common viruses and lifestyle sicknesses. This means patients could have constant headaches caused by black mold, but think they are coming from other things. Treatment, then, can be ineffective.
Black mold is also found in many buildings, making it an even more widespread problem. Those headaches could be coming from the individual's home, office, or even the walls at a friend's house. By the time black mold is found, it's often too late to treat. It can take years to eradicate, especially because it typically appears inside walls, ventilation ducts, and around window edges, which are places many individuals don't often look.
Stachybotrys mold, commonly called black mold, is considered an allergen for many individuals. An allergic reaction to it can cause nasal irritation or inflammation, which, in turn, can lead to consistent sinus congestion, often accompanied by a headache. The headaches typically affect the sinus areas, such as the forehead, lower cheekbones and deep beneath the tear ducts, although the also tend to include sensitivity to light and nausea.
Additionally, black mold is toxic, and it is the toxins that often lead to symptoms such as chronic headaches. Mucus membranes in the body are commonly affected by this mold, and inflammation occurs, leading to things such as nasal and sinus cavity pressure. At times, the headaches caused by mold can be severe and lead to further lifestyle concerns, including dizziness or fainting, and problems with speaking.
Frequent Chest Colds
Symptoms of black mold exposure include common cold indicators, such as coughing, wheezing, nasal congestion, a sore, scratchy throat, as well as eye redness and itchiness. Someone with asthma or other respiratory ailments can experience worsened symptoms due to black mold exposure. Manifestations of this include frequent chest colds along with allergic reactions and trouble breathing. Individuals who have chronic asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or seasonal allergies are more likely to develop symptoms after being exposed to black mold.
Treatment for mold exposure-related chest colds includes antihistamines such as eye drops and nasal sprays. Decongestants can help clear out the nasal passages and sinuses. Sometimes steroidal prescriptions are given to help reduce the inflammation at the root of congestion. Allergy shots are also sometimes given to help build up a resistance to an allergen, such as those found in black mold.
Fatigue And Lethargy
The symptoms of chronic black mold exposure that mimic cold and flu can often cause fatigue and lethargy in patients. Symptoms like coughing, sore throat, nasal congestion, and trouble breathing can make it difficult to get a good night's sleep, which can lead to fatigue the next day. Other illnesses caused by mold exposure, such as respiratory and sinus infections, cause lethargy themselves as well.
Scientific studies have found links between the toxins emitted by black mold and chronic fatigue. It is thought that mold exposure actually triggers chronic fatigue. One of the best ways to treat or prevent fatigue due to black mold exposure is to take measures to eradicate or prevent it from forming within the home.
Sicknesses caused by exposure to black mold can also cause trouble concentrating and symptoms of what is sometimes called brain fog. A lack of quality sleep can lead to difficulty concentrating. Also, certain toxins related to black mold can actually kill neurons in the brain and cause changes in mood and personality. A 2003 study by the Dallas-based Environmental Health Center found participants exposed to toxic mold ended up with certain nervous system troubles, including confusion, difficulty concentrating, and other cognitive and emotional issues. Many participants also showed brain function abnormalities during a brain scan. Brain swelling and amplification of previous brain and neurological/psychiatric problems have also been noted. Other symptoms include slow reflexes, disorientation, memory loss, hallucinations, depression, tingling, trembling, and seizures.
Toxins produced by black mold often cause inflammation of the mucous membranes in the body. Black mold can trigger inflammation, or allergies, which can trigger sinus inflammation. Inflammation is the immune system's response to an allergen or foreign substance entering the body. Continual exposure to black mold stimulates the immune response, causing inflammation of the body's mucous membranes, leading to conditions such as sinus infections.
Additionally, breathing in mold spores can cause mold to grow inside areas such as the sinuses. These situations typically happen most often in immuno-compromised individuals. They are, however, difficult to get rid of and require fungal sinusitis testing for detection. Fungal sinusitis cannot be treated by antibiotics, so surgery is sometimes the only option to eradicate the problem.
Patients who have been exposed to black mold could develop breathing difficulties. Coughing and wheezing are common in otherwise healthy individuals. For patients with asthma or allergies, these symptoms could be more severe, and breathing may be significantly impacted. Coughing could be particularly severe at night, and patients could have chest colds, sinusitis, or flu-like symptoms. Since many factors can cause breathing difficulties, patients should see a doctor for an examination as soon as possible. The doctor will ask the patient questions about when the breathing difficulties began and what remedies the patient has tried. The patient should mention any allergies or possible exposure to mold or other toxins. After recording the patient's respiration rate and other vital signs, the physician will listen to the patient's lungs with a stethoscope. Patients may need to have blood tests and lung function tests, and allergy testing might be recommended. Breathing difficulties may be treated with inhaled or oral medicines, and patients could be advised to wear a mask or other protective gear in areas where allergens are present.
Hair loss is associated with long-term exposure to mold. Patients may notice they lose more hair than usual after combing or styling their hair, and their hair might be more prone to breakage. Some individuals could develop small areas of bald patches if hair loss is severe. Hair loss is a common side effect of many medical conditions, and it is important to see a doctor to determine the underlying cause. Patients should make a list of anything they believe might be contributing to their hair loss, including mold exposure. It can be helpful to take photos over time to document the amount of hair that has been lost. Doctors might recommend blood tests, a scalp biopsy, and light microscopy as part of the diagnostic process. Medications may help in the treatment of some types of hair loss, and laser therapy could be an option as well. Individuals with substantial hair loss may be candidates for hair transplant surgery.
Stomach pain has been reported as a side effect of prolonged mold exposure. Patients may notice a dull ache in the abdomen, and some could experience sharp or throbbing pain. Stomach pain associated with mold exposure may come and go, and it might impact a patient's appetite. Doctors will palpate the patient's abdomen to check for masses and to identify areas of tenderness. Patients may need to have imaging studies and blood tests as part of the diagnostic process. If stomach pain occurs along with abdominal swelling, jaundice, fever, or bloody stools, immediate medical care should be obtained at the emergency room. Immediate attention is also required if the patient has stomach pain accompanied by persistent nausea or vomiting. An ambulance should be called if chest pain is present. Patients who believe mold may be contributing to their stomach issues should discuss this possibility with their healthcare team.
Numbness In The Extremities
Patients who have been exposed to black mold for several months could notice numbness in their extremities. Tingling sensations may occur in the hands and feet, and some individuals might have pain or a burning sensation in the affected areas. Doctors will begin investigating this numbness by asking the patient questions about their health history. They will want to know about any underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, and it can be helpful for the patient to describe the specific location and nature of the pain. The doctor will ask how long the pain has lasted and whether anything makes it worse or better. A general physical examination will be performed, and the patient will also have a neurological exam to test his or her reflexes, sensation, and motor function. Blood tests, ultrasounds, MRI scans, and nerve conduction studies may be recommended. Over-the-counter or prescription-strength pain relievers may be beneficial in managing pain that is present, and treatment for underlying conditions and vitamin deficiencies could reduce the numbness the patient experiences. This symptom may improve once the patient is no longer exposed to black mold.
Memory loss is a potential long-term side effect of mold exposure. Patients could experience mental fog, and they may be confused. The memory loss associated with mold exposure typically affects an individual's short-term memory. Patients might misplace objects or forget why they just entered a room. They could have trouble recalling something they just read, and might forget where they left their car keys. If these symptoms are present, patients should have a neurological examination. The exam should be completed urgently if the patient begins to have trouble remembering day to day activities or forgets where they live. During the examination, doctors will check the patient's mental status by asking questions about the season, day of the week, and recent events. The patient might be given specialized memory tests as well. In cases where memory loss is due to black mold, patients typically notice an improvement in their symptoms once the mold has been successfully removed.