Mold Symptoms Explained

Many do not realize that breathing in mold, mycotoxins or mold volatile organic compounds on a daily basis can build up in your system.

What was once a nagging cough, stuffy nose or minor cold like symptoms, suddenly develops into chronic sinus infection, heaviness of breathing and flu like symptoms.  If you continue waiting, the infection can move into your lungs, bloodstream and central nervous system.

So, as you can see, symptoms can be different in those who have a one time short exposure VS those individuals who are continually breathing in mold and their byproducts.

Short Term Exposure Symptoms  …

  • Watery, runny eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Nasal congestion
  • An itchy rash or hives

Long Term Exposure Symptoms …

  • Lungs:
    • Trouble breathing or noisy breathing
    • Coughing, wheezing
    • Sneezing
    • Congestion
    • Tightness in the lungs
    • Hoarseness
  • Heart and Blood Vessels
    • Chest pain
    • Low blood pressure
    • Weak, rapid pulse
    • Dizziness, fainting
  • Skin
    • Pale or flushed skin
    • Hives or welts
    • Itchy skin
    • Sweating
  • Mouth
    • Swelling of the throat, face, lips, or tongue
  • Stomach and Digestion
    • Abdominal pain
    • Nausea, vomiting
    • Diarrhea

Frequently Asked Questions About Mold Symptoms & Exposure

Q:  Are these all of the symptoms?

No.  Symptoms can be as diverse as each individual.

Q:  Are all people affected in the home?

Surprisingly, it can only be one person.  Each person has different levels of tolerance and different contaminants that cause problems.  One person can have a reaction to mold, while others won’t.

Q:  Can you talk about mold allergies?

I’ve always looked at mold allergies being similar to an autoimmune disease.  Our bodies begin attacking itself when it detects and certain type of mold.

Many inherit these allergies from one of their parents, while others become allergic after what we call an environmental insult.  An environmental insult is where one time in the past, you were hit with a large amount of mold spores.  Hence, every time you breath in these same type of mold spores … your body attacks itself by flooding your system with histamines.

Q:  What is the difference between allergies and sensitivities?

Simply put allergies are caused by proteins and sensitivities are not.  What are the symptoms of being sensitive to mold?  Often, they have the same symptoms.

This means you can go to a doctor and your test comes back as no allergies to mold.  However, mold can still cause allergy like symptoms if you’re sensitive to a certain mold.

Q:  Can you explain in simple terms about indoor air mold exposure?

Think of mold like a dandelion.  It has roots, stems and the flowering part (mold spores).

If the mold spore is disturbed, it begins flying around the air.  The more mold spores in the air the more problems it can create.


These mold spores can land in the eyes, causing eye problems.  The eyes usually respond with a defensive posture by watering and trying to flush out the mold spores.  If flushing fails, then the eyes can itch, burn or become red.

They can land on the skin creating rashes, hives or welts.


As we breathe in these mold spores, the first area of our body, the upper respiratory is affected.  If you have allergies to mold, you body reacts with an allergy attack.  If you have asthma, your body can start closing up your breathing passages.  If you have chronic sinusitis, the mold can lodge itself into the sinus cavity.

Once in the nose or mouth, the mold spores have to avoid the body defenses of coughing, sneezing, stuffy nose and/or runny nose.


For those mold spores who evade the first line of defense, they enter the lung symptom and a second line of defense.  Think of the lungs like a vine of grapes.  Spores enter the larger trunk of the vine (Bronchial Tubes) which are covered with tiny hair like Cilia.  The purpose of these hairs are to grab pollutants and take them back up the throat to be coughed out.

No matter how hard our body defenses try, some mold spores or mold spore pieces end up in the smaller branches (Bronchioles) and then enter the grape clusters (Alveoli).  These grape like structures allow the tiny pieces of mold to enter our blood stream, where the carbon dioxide and oxygen exchange happens.  Once in the blood, these tiny parts of mold can have access to the whole body.

Are mold spores the only way to be exposed?

No.  There are several other ways to be exposed.  mVOC, mycotoxins, glucans, mold proteins … just to name a few.

Mold volatile organic compounds (mVOC) is actually a fume that can be breathed in.  When you smell the musty smell of mold, you are breathing in these mVOCs.  This chemical fume can rush past all of the body defenses with ease and go straight into the bloodstream.  Chemically sensitive individuals can suffer greatly from the chemical.

Mycotoxins are another way that illness from mold can happen.  Most people are scared of black mold, because of these mycotoxins.  You may be surprised to learn that many other mold species, other than black mold (Stachybotrys) develop their own type of mycotoxins.

The shell surround the mold spore are called glucans.  Glucans cause an inflammatory response and in some cases, can be pathogenic.

Mold proteins cause allergy attacks.  What many people do not realize is that if enough mold is inhaled, a person can develop an allergy to mold, where they weren’t allergic before.  We call this an environmental slap.

Q:  Can you become sick from mold without having mold growth?

Yes.  Most mold inspectors search for mold.  If no mold is found, they pack up their bags and head off to the next job.  What they don’t realize, is the client can still become ill … even without mold growth.

You need to hire a mold inspector that understands this.

Should I be scared of mold?

Many inspectors use scare tactics to get more money out of their clients.  They will do remediation, when remediation is not necessary.

A prime example is mold in air ducts.  I can always find mold in air ducts.  Does it mean the air ducts need cleaning?  No.  I can most always find mold in a tub surround wall cavity.  Does it mean that you need to rip out the bathtub and tile surrounding it?  No.

There is a time to be scared, but also times to where you shouldn’t be scared.  However, you should get your home inspected.  If not by me, then using another professional.


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