If you’re like most people, the thought of mold in your home is distressing.
And you’ve probably heard of the many health issues that mold exposure can cause, such as allergic reactions; eye, nose, and throat irritation; sinus congestion; and other respiratory problems.
But if you or a loved one suffers from asthma, you may be wondering, ‘Can mold cause asthma?’
In this guide, we’ll answer that question and more.
First, we’ll give you the short answer so you know what’s ahead. Then, we’ll go more in-depth so you understand fully about how—or if—mold causes asthma.
Can Mold Cause Asthma? (Short Answer)
Yes, mold can cause asthma. According to research, certain mold species were found in homes where babies later developed asthma. Three species, in particular, are Aspergillus unguis, Aspergillus ochraceus, and Penicillium variabile. Mold also triggers asthma symptoms through allergic reactions which is why asthmatics should avoid mold exposure.
One of the best ways to protect yourself from mold is to use an air purifier in your home. Air purifiers extract mold spores from the air so they don’t end up in your lungs, eyes, or throat. Take a look at our guide on the best air purifier for mold spores to find out more.
A More Detailed Answer
Whether or not a person will develop asthma, in general, depends on certain factors.
It’s been found that both genes and the environment play a role in asthma development. However, even though some studies have found that mold can contribute to developing asthma, the relationship is complicated and not fully understood.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly that mold is the root cause of asthma in some conditions; however, there’s a strong correlation to developing asthma disease and mold exposure.
How Does Mold Cause Asthma Attacks?
Asthma is a chronic condition and there’s no actual cure for it. There are ways to manage asthma, but it’s a condition that a person will always have and they need to be aware of what triggers their particular symptoms.
In essence, an asthma attack occurs when the bronchioles (the air passages that lead into the lungs) constrict and become narrower than normal. The lining of these airways can also become swollen or inflamed which contributes to breathing issues.
Mold is found everywhere, so it’s not uncommon for people to be exposed to the spores—whether inside or outside the home. When the spores are inhaled, they can irritate the airways in the lungs. If the bronchioles are already narrowed or inflamed, inhaling the spores makes the symptoms worse.
When asking the question, “Can mold cause asthma?”, studies have found that babies exposed to specific mold species were more prone to develop asthma as they got older.
The particular mold species that have been linked to the development of asthma include Aspergillus unguis, Aspergillus ochraceus, and Penicillium variabile.
Throughout the world, there are thousands of mold species and those three types are often found in homes that have moisture issues or been impacted by water damage. Thus, if your house ever experiences high levels of humidity, a broken water pipe, or flooding, the children in your home may develop asthma-related conditions.
Mold and Allergies
More often than not, if a person is allergic to mold and has asthma, they’ll be more prone to asthma attacks.
Some of the symptoms you might experience if you have a mold allergy include the following:
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Itchy or watery eyes
- Itchy nose or throat
- Dry, scaly skin
Exposure to mold spores can also lead to the development of sinus or throat infections.
In people with asthma, they may also be at an increased risk of other pulmonary infections.
Symptoms that you’re having an asthma attack related to mold exposure can include:
- Tight feeling in your chest
- Shortness of breath
The severity of your asthma reaction will depend on your mold sensitivity.
For most people, the symptoms listed above are all that they’ll experience. But for others, especially those with asthma, they may have reduced lung function. This could result in more visits to the hospital and an increased chance of dying from asthma-related illnesses.
Preventing Mold-Related Asthma Attacks
Being allergic to mold can be uncomfortable and lead to illness but there are ways to overcome the issue. The same is true if mold is a trigger for your asthma.
Following the tips listed below, you can reduce the chances of having an allergy or asthma attack when exposed to mold spores.
Keep the Air Clean
Asthma usually gets triggered when you inhale an irritant. Mold spores are incredibly common and travel on various air currents, so keeping the air clean in your home is a good idea.
This can be achieved by using an air purifier that’s rated to trap or destroy mold.
If you would like to learn more about the various air purifier options that exist, check out our review of some of the top mold-eliminating air purifiers on the market by visiting our guide on the best air purifier for mold spores.
Take Your Medication
Determining you have a mold allergy is something that is done by a professional. Doctors and allergy specialists can put you through a battery of tests that will let you know exactly what you are allergic to and how severe the allergy is. They will then be able to recommend medications that will reduce your symptoms when exposed to the allergen.
They can also do the same for asthma. Once they have determined your triggers and how severe your symptoms might get, they can prescribe inhalers or other medications to help with the issue.
The best way to prevent mold from having an adverse impact on your health is to take these medications as prescribed. This will give your body the support it needs to take care of any allergen or trigger that might enter your system.
Since mold can be found everywhere in the environment, if you have an emergency inhaler for unexpected asthma attacks, then you should probably have it on you at all times. You never know when you’re going to encounter mold spores, and it’s a good idea to be prepared.
Common Questions About Mold Exposure
Can Mold Cause Respiratory Problems?
Yes, mold can cause respiratory problems. The most common respiratory issues include nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing, wheezing, and tightness of the chest. People with asthma or other chronic lung illnesses, such as obstructive lung disease, may also get serious lung infections when they’re exposed to mold.
What Happens When You Inhale Mold?
Inhaling mold in low quantities doesn’t do much to most people. However, inhaling large quantities of mold spores can cause allergic reactions and respiratory infections. When you’re inhaling too much mold, you’ll start to cough, sneeze, or wheeze. Severe reactions like nausea and vomiting can occur if you keep inhaling mold.
How Do You Treat Mold Exposure?
Treating mold exposure includes:
- Nasal sprays or rinses. Over-the-counter nasal corticosteroids, such as fluticasone (Flonase). A solution of warm, distilled water and saline can help rinse your nasal passages.
- OTC medications. Antihistamines, such as cetirizine (Zyrtec) or loratadine (Claritin) and decongestants, such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed).
- Montelukast (Singulair). Requires a prescription.
- Allergy shots.
Can Mold Grow in Your Lungs?
Yes, mold can grow in the lungs. However, it’s most likely to grow in people who have chronic lung disorders or damaged lungs. Abnormal spaces in lung tissue is where the mold fungus more easily colonizes and grows. People with tuberculosis, emphysema, or advanced sarcoidosis are most susceptible to this.
Summary – Can Mold Really Cause Asthma?
Yes, mold can cause asthma, but the relationship between the two is complicated. Let’s review the other things we learned in this article.
- It has been found that babies exposed to specific mold species developed asthma as they got older.
- Mold can trigger an asthma attack, and those who have a mold allergy are more susceptible to having this occur.
- There are ways to control asthma symptoms caused by mold. One is by using an air purifier in your home and the other is by taking medication.
Now you know the answer to the question, “Can mold cause asthma?”