What is the Connection Between Mold and Asthma? (with pictures)

T. Carrier
T. Carrier
Moldy bread.
Moldy bread.

Asthma is one of the most common respiratory stressors in the world. While many individuals are familiar with common symptoms and triggers of asthma, one lesser-known asthma facilitator often escapes popular knowledge. Mold and asthma can be interlinked in a way that weakens overall respiratory health. The tiny fungi of mold can, in fact, cause an asthma attack. Studies in leading scientific journals demonstrate that mold exposure increases the risk of an attack in asthmatic individuals.

An orange with mold on it.
An orange with mold on it.

The portion of mold that poses the greatest asthma risk is the spore. Mold is a fungus that grows on damp surfaces and it reproduces by sending its spores through the air. As such, both outdoor mold and indoor mold, or house mold, are prevalent in wet areas. Some individuals are susceptible to the floating spore irritants in these areas. Mold spores thus can act as allergens when inhaled, and this allergy can trigger an attack in individuals with asthma.

An asthma inhaler.
An asthma inhaler.

Mold and asthma symptoms resemble those of similar respiratory distresses. Like other types of allergies, a mold allergy can produce a runny nose, sneezing, red eyes, and even a skin rash. When the allergens move into the throat and lungs, typical asthma symptoms such as coughing and wheezing result. The primary asthma symptom is difficulty breathing brought about by a tightening of the airways and the lungs. Health problems relating to mold and asthma are most prevalent in the summer and during the late-night hours.

An illustration of the pathology of asthma.
An illustration of the pathology of asthma.

Measures can be taken to prevent an adverse reaction between mold and asthma. Drying damp areas in the bathroom and other portions of the home can block favorable mold conditions. Any household leaks also deserve prompt attention. Low humidity will lessen the risk of mold as well. Perhaps the most important step one can take to reduce mold spores in the home is a strong ventilation system. As for outdoor triggers, it is best to avoid areas where mold growth is suspected.

Mold can greatly aggravate asthma symptoms.
Mold can greatly aggravate asthma symptoms.

Treatment for mold-related asthma symptoms is fairly routine. Most crucial is avoidance of mold contact. Mold can be detected by its discoloration of damp areas and by its strong odor. Individuals who work in high-humidity areas should also wear masks if they are sensitive to allergens. Respiratory medications such as antihistamines and decongestants, as well as typical asthmatic aides like inhalers, can alleviate most respiratory symptoms. If symptoms persist or worsen, visitation to a health care professional may be necessary.

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    • Moldy bread.
      Moldy bread.
    • An orange with mold on it.
      An orange with mold on it.
    • An asthma inhaler.
      An asthma inhaler.
    • An illustration of the pathology of asthma.
      An illustration of the pathology of asthma.
    • Mold can greatly aggravate asthma symptoms.
      Mold can greatly aggravate asthma symptoms.
    • It is generally best to avoid outdoor areas where mold growth is suspected.
      It is generally best to avoid outdoor areas where mold growth is suspected.
    • It is not uncommon for asthma sufferers to also fall victim to certain allergies, such as mold.
      It is not uncommon for asthma sufferers to also fall victim to certain allergies, such as mold.