Mold warning signs and allergy symptoms

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — You may not realize you have mold until there’s a problem. For Sterling Jones and his wife, falling paint was the first clear sign.

“Some paint jumped off the wall and she called the maintenance people and they came in and told us we had to move to another apartment,“ said Jones. “We had just bought a new mattress,” he continued. “When we took all the covers off of it had a big spot of mold. We had to throw it away.”

Dr. Amy Bentley Illescas says mold can overwhelm our natural defenses over time.

“Most of our immune systems are really good at fighting sort of wimpy things like mold,” said Amy Bentley Illescas, M.D.

“They’re not quite as virulent as some of the other things you might come in contact with that might because bacterial pneumonias, but they’re sort of pesky and determined and so they tend to stick around. And so the medicines we use typically to treat bronchitis or sinus infections wouldn’t necessarily affect mold. And so you need to be real aware if you’re not getting better and your doctor has you on a medicine that they think is good, you have to step back and ask the question could there be something else going on.”

“It is a pretty common problem and a lot of times patients who have difficult to treat sinus problems end up being tested for allergies and you come to find out they’re allergic to a random number of different molds that are kind of all over the environment. Especially here in the south where it can be real humid,” said Amy Bentley Illescas, M.D.

“There are all sorts of molds that are out there and black mold I think has gotten a lot more press, but you have to remember that sometimes you can’t tell what kind of mold it is. You can’t see it and you don’t know where it is, but the tiny spores can travel through ducts and vents in your house and you can breathe them in even if you don’t see mold all over the wall in a certain concentration,” she continued.

She says people should be aware of changes in their surroundings if they start having symptoms of a mold allergy.

Especially if you’ve moved into a new house or maybe into a new office building, “said Amy Bentley Illescas, M.D.

According to her it’s possible for someone to develop a new allergy, but it’s less common than someone being exposed to a new potential allergen, such as mold.

“Definitely if you had any issues with breathing and you developed an asthma like reaction those can all be associated symptoms with a mold allergy,” said Amy Bentley Illescas, M.D.

Mike Ramey of Mold and Mildew Solutions LLC says mold thrives in moist areas with poor ventilation.

“Mold really thrives over 50-55 percent relative humidity. And when it’s 100% humidity outside and it’s raining, those areas that already have humidity issues or ventilation issues, whether it’s your attic, crawl space, basement, things of that nature and then you put that excessive humidity then obviously you’ve got the perfect formula for mold growth,” said Ramey.

He says there are many, many types of mold. There are so many that some haven’t even been scientifically classified yet, according to Ramey.

He says the potential threat that each may represent will vary from person to person.

“It’s really about your personal makeup, how you react to mold. Even though black molds, which is kind of a general term, have gotten a bad rep, all type of molds can, can be equally problematic,” said Ramey.

Mold is most likely to attack organic material like wood, sheetrock, and paint, according to Ramey.

“We’ve had those situations where that mold has gotten so bad that the you know the framing and the support structure of the home is just almost gone,” said Ramey.

Mold remediation may begin by testing the air inside a home for the presence of mold and also recommending moisture reduction techniques.

Ramey recommends using a dehumidifier for any basement or room that is even partially below ground level.

He says limiting the amount of moisture that accumulates next to a home is a good start. Some simple ways to accomplish that are by keeping gutters cleaned out and extended at least six feet away from the home, and by removing shrubs that are too close and may hold water in their roots.

Finding mold is just part of the challenge.

Getting rid of it is quite an undertaking.

“Just spraying something on it doesn’t make it disappear. You may deactivate it or render it lifeless for a little bit, but the material, the allergenic properties are still present so physical removal is typically the key,” said Ramey.

Copyright 2014 WIAT 42 News

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