Is It Allergies or Is It Mold? Part 1

young girl blowing her nose with dog sitting near her

Signs and Symptoms

Sara had been experiencing classic allergy symptoms for weeks. Every morning, she woke up with a stuffy nose and watery eyes. Throughout the day, she would sneeze uncontrollably and feel an irritating itchiness in her throat. Sara was convinced that she was experiencing seasonal allergies, especially since she had a history of hay fever. Sara’s doctor prescribed antihistamines and nasal sprays but her symptoms continued. Little did she know that the real culprit behind her misery was hidden in her home – mold.

Mold often grows in damp and hidden areas – behind walls, under carpets, or in poorly ventilated spaces. As a result, it can be challenging to detect mold without professional help or specific testing. Sara’s assumption that her symptoms were due to allergies seemed logical since she had never seen any visible mold growth in her home and hadn’t experienced any major water leaks.

It can be challenging to determine whether your symptoms are caused by allergies or mold illness since many symptoms overlap.

Allergy Symptoms

Symptoms often flare during the spring and summer, or in response to specific triggers like pollen, dust, or pet dander.

Allergy symptoms include:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Itchy or watery eyes
  • Skin rash or hives
  • Respiratory symptoms, such as wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath.
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Feeling light-headed

Mold Illness/Toxicity Symptoms

Mold toxicity can result from inhaling mold spores, ingesting contaminated food or water, or direct skin contact. Symptoms can vary depending on the type and amount of mold exposure, as well as individual susceptibility.

If you’re developing mold toxicity you could experience:

  • Fatigue
  • Cold or flu-like symptoms
  • Headache
  • Difficulty concentrating or memory problems
  • Muscle weakness or tremors
  • Joint pain
  • Skin rash, itchy skin or hives
  • Respiratory symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Hair loss
  • Worsening asthma

As her symptoms continued to get worse, Sara returned to her doctor’s office. Her doctor ran a series of lab tests which showed that there were elevated levels of mycotoxins in her blood – a notorious sign of mold overexposure.

Sara hired a professional inspector to check out her house. The inspection uncovered mold growth in the basement, the result of a leaking pipe inside the wall. As the mold spores circulated through the air, Sara unknowingly inhaled them and her health deteriorated. Luckily, she was able to heal once the mold was removed.

You may be asking yourself if there’s a way to determine if your symptoms require a visit to the doctor and the expense of lab tests? Part 2 describes specific symptoms that correspond to mold illness.