Kim was a smart research assistant who was extremely sharp with numbers. She was meticulous and was quick to rise in ranks at her office. But after she shifted to her new home, things started changing slowly. Unable to concentrate and without sufficient clarity of thoughts, her work started getting affected. She started getting anxious and depressed.
She had to quit her job and undergo various tests to find what was wrong. A doctor diagnosed her with heavy metal poisoning and had to undergo chelation therapy. Though she recovered, there was a relapse 5 months later.
Finally, another doctor suggested that her mental confusion could be caused by sensitivity to mold. Needless to say, when her home was inspected, three types of molds were detected.
Most people are aware that mold triggers allergies and asthma attacks in individuals, especially with a compromised immune system. Other physical illnesses include a stuffy nose, wheezing, and red or itchy eyes, or skin, fatigue, muscle cramps, headache, morning stiffness and so on.
But mold sensitivity can manifest many types of mental illnesses too. As per Psychology Today, it could lead to symptoms like depression, anxiety, attentional problems, brain fog and insomnia.
So, does this mean everyone at your home could get affected? Fortunately, No. Certain people are genetically more vulnerable because their bodies cannot clear biotoxins. And it is such people who have a drastic reaction to mold.
Why Mold Affects Your Mental Well Being?
Toxic substances produced by certain molds are called mycotoxins. Studies in animals have shown that mycotoxins can enter the brain, interfere with the metabolism and cause inflammation. Mold spores also act as irritants which trigger an immune response leading to inflammation throughout the body.
Inflammation in the brain can impair cognitive functions and cause other symptoms including pain syndromes, movement disorders, delirium, dementia, and disorders of balance and coordination.
While most molds trigger allergenic reactions, fortunately, only a few affect your mental well-being.
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Types of Molds Found in Homes
Molds are classified into three types-
Allergenic molds are not toxic. But they trigger allergies and asthma attacks.
Pathogenic molds trigger illness in immune-compromised individuals.
Toxigenic molds produce mycotoxins which can cause serious illness and even affect your mental well-being.
There are about 12 common molds found in households that fall into these three categories. Some of them are-
Chaetomium is an allergenic mold that you can find predominantly in water-damaged homes. They start off as a fuzzy white growth and slowly turns dark in colour and looks like black mold.
Chaetomium a.k.a Black Mold
A toxigenic mold, Chaetomium is one of the dangerous types of mold found in damp areas like bathrooms and ventilation systems. You can find it typically in homes with excess moisture. Only professional cleaners can remove black mold completely.
This type of mold is mainly found in washing machine gaskets, carpets, wooden cabinets and old clothes. They may trigger allergies or respiratory problems.
Trichoderma molds are predominantly found in damp soils, paper and wood. They produce mycotoxins under certain conditions. They start off white or yellow in colour and turn grey or dark greenish in colour.
It is another type of mold that is prevalent in bathrooms and showers. It can cause allergic reactions in individuals and even conditions like asthma.
If you are worried whether the black moldy spots in your washing machine seal is the dangerous black mold, then, fret not! More often, it is the less dangerous Ulocladium, which triggers allergies.
They are often found in damp appliances like dishwashers and washing machines, bathrooms, drywall and carpets. They generally need a very high level of moisture to thrive.
Type- Mostly allergenic
This type of mold is predominantly found in carpets, mattresses and water-damaged structures. There are about 40 species of Mucor mold and most of them are allergenic.
If your child has a potty training accident on the mattress, it is advisable to treat it immediately, else, it could potentially lead to mold growth.
Auerobasidium is found predominantly underneath wallpaper and paint. They are black, yeast-like organism and thrives when moisture levels are high enough.
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How To Get Rid of Mold From Homes?
As you would already know, mold thrives whenever the moisture level in the house is high. It is especially prevalent in bathrooms, front load washing machine seals and wet utility areas. So, the best way to get rid of mold is to get rid of excess moisture.
Other tips are-
- Open the curtains and window during the daytime so that there is enough ventilation.
- Use a dehumidifier if the moisture level is above 60%.
- Clean your washing machine on a monthly basis. Also, keep the door open whenever it is not in use.
- Wooden chopping boards are also a breeding ground for mold. So never dump it in the sink. Wash thoroughly and air dry them immediately after use.
- Promptly repair any leaks from the roof, sink and walls so that mold doesn’t thrive.
- If your house is affected by flood, attend to it as soon as it is safe. Ensure that you disinfect and dry the affected areas within 48 hours.
- Attend to kids or pets potty training accidents on carpet and upholstery immediately using an enzyme based cleaner. Remove or replace wet carpets and upholstery that cannot be dried.
- Switch on the exhaust fans in the bathroom for at least an hour after bath.
- Do not paint over a moldy surface as the paint will peel away.
How To Remove Mold?
Mold spores often float in the air. You cannot eliminate it completely. But, you can prevent it from spreading to an extend where it triggers health problems. Other tips are-
- If you are dealing with black mold or if mold covers over 10 sq. ft of area, seek professional help.
- If mold is present over any objects, throw it away. Things kept underneath the kitchen sink are especially prone to developing mold.
- Scrub off mold on on hard surfaces with detergent and water. Air dry or use a hair dryer to remove any moisture from the surface.
- Note that dead mold may still trigger allergy. So ensure you remove it completely.
Though certain molds cause mental confusion, fortunately, they are not that common. But the ones that trigger allergies are quite common in Indian households. With sufficient care and by maintaining low humidity in the house, you can prevent mold from causing health problems.