Do you have a chronic cough? Do you experience unusual shortness of breath? Frequent headaches? What about recurrent sinus and respiratory infections or flu-like symptoms? These could all be indicative of exposure to mold, which can cause many of the aforementioned symptoms and pose other serious risks to your health.
Moisture is the key cause of mold. Certain molds produce mycotoxins, a toxic secondary metabolite that is produced by fungus, also known as fungal poisons. Exposure to high levels of these mycotoxins can be harmful to both humans and animals, leading to disease, neurological problems, and even death.
Mold can be found indoors and tends to grow in places with lots of moisture. This can result from leaks in roofs, windows, and/or pipes. Mold can also enter your home from outside through open windows, doors, vents, and even heating or air conditioning systems, and can attach itself to clothing, shoes and pets. Mold can also grow in insulation, drywall, carpeting, wallpaper, paint and cardboard. While mold can be seen – usually appearing as spots – it can also be described as having a musty smell.
Symptoms of mold exposure/sensitivity include the following:
• Chronic cough
• Recurrent respiratory infections
• Shortness of breath
• Red or itchy eyes
• Skin rash
• Feeling lightheaded
• Joint pain
• Trouble concentrating
Dr. Ali Ghahary, a family physician in Vancouver, recommends seeking medical attention if you have any of these persisting symptoms. If you are in need of the advice of a physician, Dr. Ghahary is available to see patients at Brentwood Medical Clinic on a walk-in basis every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. You can find Dr. Ghahary's full walk-in schedule by visiting the clinic’s website at http://brentwoodwalk-inclinic.com or http://www.alighahary.ca.
There are also certain tips you can follow to prevent the growth of mold and the symptoms associated to it. First and foremost, fix any leaks. As mentioned, mold likes moisture. If your home has flooded, always clean and dry the home promptly – preferably within 24 to 48 hours. It’s also important to control humidity levels and keep them as low as possible, ensuring that they do not go higher than 50%. If you see mold growth, it can be removed with household products, i.e. soap and water. You can also remove mold with a bleach solution that consists of 1 cup of bleach mixed into 1 gallon of water.