Have you been diagnosed with bronchitis or just started noticing the symptoms?
Are you wondering how you got it?
Could mold be the culprit?
If you’re asking the question, “Can mold cause bronchitis?” then this post is for you.
Believe it or not, you’re exposed to mold on a daily basis. It’s an incredibly common—and abundant—element in our world. It has an important function in nature and there are thousands of mold species in existence, many of which are floating invisibly around your home and workplace.
But just because mold is all around you, can it really cause respiratory inflammation like bronchitis?
We’ll answer that question here so you can find out once and for all if there’s a link between mold and developing bronchitis.
First, we’ll give you the short answer so you know what to expect, then we’ll move on to a more in-depth discussion about the relationship between mold and respiratory conditions like bronchitis.
Can Mold Cause Bronchitis? (Short Answer)
Yes, mold can cause bronchitis. Studies have found that mold can cause bronchitis infections, including the development of acute and chronic issues. However, not all molds have this impact, but only certain species. The most common molds that cause bronchitis are found in areas of the home or workplace.
A simple way to keep mold out of the air you breathe is by using an air purifier. Air purifiers can trap and kill mold spores so you can reduce your chances of developing bronchitis. To find the right device for you, check out our top air purifier for mold page.
A More Detailed Answer
When it comes to bronchitis and mold, the two most common species that contribute to the issue are Alternaria and Cladosporium. These species thrive in damp environments, so the basement, crawl space or attic of your home could be an ideal place. It’s also incredibly common to see these species thrive after you have experienced water damage.
The spores from these mold species can easily be disbursed around the interior of your home or office building through the HVAC system.
In many cases, the mold begins in your basement or attic and then makes its way to other areas of your home (i.e. living room, bedrooms, kitchen).
Inside office buildings, mold can start in the underground areas, near the roof, or other locations, and then travel to the bathrooms, breakrooms, and individual office spaces.
Mold and Bronchitis
When it comes to mold and bronchitis, the chances of developing this issue depends on your sensitivity to the mold spores.
If you have a mild sensitivity, you may only develop rhinitis, which is an inflammation of the mucous membranes in your nose. If you have a more severe sensitivity, then this could lead to chronic bronchitis and asthma.
Young children, the elderly, smokers, and people with heart conditions or respiratory problems are more at risk of being sensitive to mold.
It was found that there have been more instances of chronic bronchitis occurring when people are exposed to damp conditions that allow mold to grow.
As for bronchitis itself, this condition occurs when the bronchial tubes in your lungs become swollen or inflamed. This leads to a cough that produces mucus. It can also lead to shortness of breath, chest tightness, wheezing and a low fever.
The two types of bronchitis that exist are acute and chronic.
Acute bronchitis occurs suddenly when you’re exposed to an environmental irritant, such as mold, dust, air pollution, or tobacco smoke. It can last for 2 to 3 weeks, but then you get over the ailment.
Chronic bronchitis is a long-term condition that reoccurs and never completely goes away. The most common cause of this problem is smoking. However, exposure to dust, air pollution, and mold over long periods of time can also lead to the development of this condition.
When you inhale the mold spores from Alternaria and Cladosporium, they irritate and inflame the bronchial tubes, creating a cough that leads to the development of mucus.
There is no cure for chronic bronchitis, but there are treatments that can help. These include medications that open up the airways and oxygen therapy.
Other Pulmonary Illnesses
If you came here asking the question, “Can mold cause bronchitis?”, you may also be interested to learn that there’s another illness that’s caused by mold which has many of the same symptoms.
This illness is called “aspergillosis”, and the symptoms include wheezing, chest pain, coughing, and fever. As the name suggests, this infection is caused by Aspergillus, which is a common mold found both inside and outside.
There are people who breathe these spores on a daily basis and never have a reaction. For those who have weakened immune systems or lung diseases, they have a higher risk of developing health problems when inhaling these spores.
Again, depending on your sensitivity, there are various infections you can get from this species of mold. Some of the issues that might arise include the following:
- Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis – This occurs when the spores cause inflammation in the lungs and can lead to coughing and wheezing.
- Invasive aspergillosis – This is a serious infection that occurs when the spores get into the lungs of a person who has a weakened immune system. It can spread from the lungs into other parts of the body.
Preventing Mold-Related Bronchitis
Bronchitis can be a serious issue that makes it incredibly challenging to breathe and possibly live a normal life. The only way to know if you are dealing with chronic bronchitis is to have it diagnosed by a professional.
Since there’s no cure for this ailment, once you have been diagnosed with the problem you’ll be put on a treatment program to keep your symptoms under control.
If you’re looking for ways to reduce the chances of this occurring in the first place, you might consider some of the tips listed below.
Remove Mold Spores from the Air
Since the mold spores cause irritation in the lungs, the best course of action to take is to get them out of the air. This includes making sure you change the filters in your HVAC system on a regular basis, as well as use an air purifier in your home and/or office space.
Air purifiers are designed to strip the mold spores out of the air so they don’t end up in your lungs. Some models can also kill these microbes so the air around you is sterile.
To learn more about these devices, check out our top air purifier for mold page. It shows you what features to look for in a high-quality mold air purifier and how to get the right size for your needs.
Take Care of Moisture Problems
Studies have shown that the molds that lead to the development of bronchitis are those that are found when moisture is abundant in your home or office.
Therefore, to reduce the risk of developing this chronic problem, you need to have a professional take care of any leaking pipes or other water sources that might contribute to the growth of mold.
Common Questions About Mold and Health
What are the Symptoms of Mold in Your Lungs?
The symptoms of mold in your lungs include wheezing, coughing, and chest pain. Other symptoms you might experience outside of the respiratory system are fever, sneezing, nasal stuffiness, headache, nausea, vomiting, skin rash, irritated eyes, and sore throat.
Can Mold Cause Upper Respiratory Infections?
Yes, mold can cause upper respiratory infections. People who are most susceptible to respiratory infections from mold are those who have chronic lung illnesses, obstructive lung disease, or immune-compromised individuals. Serious infections in the lungs can also occur in healthy people when exposed to mold for long periods of time.
What Can Breathing in Mold Do?
Breathing in mold spores can cause acute or chronic allergic reactions and upper respiratory infections. Common symptoms of breathing mold include sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, red and watery eyes, coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest pain. People with stronger mold allergies may have more severe reactions.
Will a Chest X-Ray Show Mold?
Yes, a chest x-ray can show mold in the lungs. Aspergillosis is a fungal infection that invades lung tissue and chest X-ray or computerized tomography (CT) scan can reveal a fungal mass (aspergilloma) and characteristic signs of bronchopulmonary aspergillosis. If mold is in the chest, a doctor will recommend treatment.
Can I Stay in My House with Black Mold?
You can stay in a house with black mold if the mold is contained to a room that can be isolated. If black mold is in a commonly used area of the house, you should not live in it. Black mold can cause serious health problems and structural damage to a house.
What Should You Do if You Are Exposed to Black Mold?
If you are exposed to back mold you should do the following:
- Clean the air. Use an air purifier in your home to reduce mold spores.
- Use a nasal spray. Over-the-counter (OTC) nasal corticosteroids, such as fluticasone (Flonase).
- Take OTC medications. Antihistamines, such as cetirizine (Zyrtec) or loratadine (Claritin) and decongestants, such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed).
- Get an allergy shot.
Summary – Can Mold Actually Cause Bronchitis?
Yes, exposure to certain kinds of molds can lead to the development of bronchitis. Here are some other things that we learned in this article:
- The most common mold types that lead to chronic bronchitis are Alternaria and Cladosporium, which are often found in homes and offices with water issues.
- Chronic bronchitis can’t be cured, but it can be treated with medications and oxygen therapy.
- To prevent the chances of developing mold-related bronchitis, you need to remove mold spores from by changing your HVC filters regularly, using an air purifier, and having any water leaks or flooding remediated.
Now you know the answer to the question, “Can mold cause bronchitis?”