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Black Mold Poisoning: Presenting Features & Its Treatment Options

What Is A Black Mold?

Black Mold is a common type of fungus which is black to dark green in color and can be seen in the walls of damp and humid room. There are different species of fungus that come under the spectrum of Black Mold. These fungi thrive in damp and humid environment, especially in wood, paper, or gypsum which is a part of every household. It is seen to grow in bathrooms, shower area, and laundry rooms where there is lot of moisture in the air. Black Mold is also a common sight after flooding or a burst water pipe. At times, it grows in areas which are not visible to the naked eye like underneath carpets or floorboards.[1]

Black Mold can significantly impact the overall health of an individual. It is a known neurotoxin. The spores released by these molds easily attach to the neurons affecting the mental ability of the individual. If Black Mold affects the brain then the individual can have tremors, mood changes, and other neurological changes. Black Mold is also known to affect the immune system of the body. The spores of the fungus suppresses the immune system which makes the individual vulnerable to various other infections. In rare cases, prolonged exposure to Black Mold can also cause life threatening complications.[1]

This happens when the spores of the fungus damage the vital organs of the body including the brain and the individual can eventually succumb to the infection. Black Mold is especially dangerous for pregnant females. Exposure to Black Mold increases the risk of miscarriage and other birth defects. It may also make the female infertile and decrease the ability of her becoming pregnant again. It is not that only humans can get affected by Black Mold. Even the pets at home can become sick as a result of exposure to Black Molds.[1]

The people most at risk from Black Mold poisoning or exposure include babies, the elderly population, and people with an already compromised immune system. This article highlights some of the presenting features and treatment options available for people who have had Black Mold poisoning.[1]

What Is A Black Mold?

What Are The Presenting Features Of Black Mold Poisoning?

It is known that Black Mold contains toxins and if an individual gets exposed to excess of spores of this fungus then it may result in what is termed as Black Mold poisoning. The symptoms of black mold exposure are quite similar to that of an upper respiratory tract infection. The individual will have symptoms of a common cold or flu. The severity of the symptoms will be more in people with a compromised immune system or the elderly population and babies. The symptoms of Black Mold poisoning include persistent bouts of coughing and audible wheezing. The patient will have a runny nose and the eyes will be red. The skin and eyes will have a severe itching sensation. There may also be episodes of nosebleeds. The throat will also feel itchy and the patient may have a hoarse voice.[2]

If an individual already has a respiratory infection and then gets exposed to Black Mold then the severity of the symptoms will worsen or he or she may experience additional symptoms like headaches, frequent chest colds, problems with breathing normally, sinusitis, general feeling of exhaustion and fatigue, and allergic reactions. In rare instances, severe symptoms of Black Mold poisoning will include loss of recent and remote memory, problems with focusing and concentrating, severe photosensitivity, anxiety and panic attacks, and numbness of the upper and lower extremities. The individual may also gain weight for no known cause.[2]

The severity of the symptoms will be more in people with known history of asthma, hay fever, allergies to molds, and COPD. Black Mold poisoning can be extremely severe on children who tend to have a developing immune system. The Center for Disease Control states that children who get exposed to Black Mold early on in their lives may develop asthma later on.[2]

This is based on the research work that has been carried out on this topic. This is especially true for people who have a direct relative with known diagnosis of asthma. However, more research needs to be done to come to some conclusion about the risk of asthma in children with Black Mold exposure.[2]

How is Black Mold Poisoning Treated?

Coming to the treatment options for Black Mold poisoning, they include:

Antihistamines: This is the primary mode of treatment of Black Mold poisoning due to allergic reaction. Antihistamines are available both in the prescription form as well as over the counter. They come in the form of tablets, sprays, and eyedrops. This can provide immediate relief of symptoms of allergic reaction as a result of Black Mold exposure [2].

Decongestants: This is also quite effective in treating symptoms of Black Mold poisoning. Sudafed which is an over the counter decongestant is the most preferred medication for this purpose. It opens up the blocked nasal passage and brings relief of symptoms.[2]

Steroids: They are also extremely effective for providing short term relief of symptoms of Black Mold poisoning. These medications work by decreasing the inflammation in the airways caused by the exposure to Black Mold. They are also effective in treating rashes that form on the skin surface due to allergic reaction as a result of Black Mold exposure. Steroids are available in the form of sprays, creams, and drops. A physician can prescribe the best source of steroid depending on the symptoms.[2]

Immunotherapy: This form of treatment involves making the body immune to the offending fungus. This is done by injecting the molds in small increments so that the body becomes resistant to the allergen. This is done by giving shots over several months period of time.[2]

It is quite easy to prevent Black Mold contamination. This can be done by[2]

  • Cleaning the house regularly especially areas that are damp where the molds tend to thrive.
  • Use a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture in damp areas of the house.
  • Keeping the walls and floors especially those under the carpet clean and dry to prevent Black Mold from growing in these areas.
  • It is also essential to keep rooms well ventilated
  • The damp areas of the house such as the basement or the bathroom need to be fitted with exhausts to remove any damp air from the area.[2]

In conclusion, Black Mold is a form of a fungus that thrives in damp areas. It is a common sight in bathrooms, basements, underneath the carpets and other areas of the house which is damp consistently. Black Mold contains variety of toxins of which some are quite serious as they can attach to the neurons causing brain damage. Black Molds are also not good for pregnant females and if exposed for prolonged periods of time may cause birth defects in the baby. The symptoms that are caused due to exposure to Black Molds are called Black Mold poisoning.[1, 2]

This is especially seen in people who have a known diagnosis of upper respiratory infections. People with a compromised immune system and babies are most at risk for developing symptoms from Black Mold exposure. The symptoms may start off as those of common cold and flu but gradually tends to get worse if left untreated. The treatment normally comprises of antihistamines, steroids, decongestants, and immunotherapy.[1, 2]

Once an individual is successfully treated for Black Mold poisoning then it is essential for the house to be checked thoroughly for any signs of this fungus. This is because the symptoms may recur if the patient is exposed again to Black Mold. Thus it is important to dehumidify the damp areas of the house and clean the house on a regular basis. The bathrooms and basements are the most common areas where Black Mold can be seen.[2]

Thus it is essential for these rooms to be well ventilated or fitted with exhaust fans to keep the air around the area dry and prevent Black Mold from growing. A dehumidifier is also quite effective in removing any excess moisture from the house and prevents Black Mold from contaminating the house. Once all preventive measures as described above are taken care of then it is quite easy to prevent any symptoms from developing due to Black Mold exposure.[1, 2]


Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:October 10, 2019

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