As the weather changes and seasonal allergies and viruses begin to make their appearance, many will experience the familiar symptoms associated with these illnesses and conditions. However, in some cases that runny nose or rash may be a sign of something else entirely.
There are tens of thousands of mold varieties that can be found both indoors and outdoors and many of these fungi take root in humid climates and areas of the home that accumulate moisture, such as basements and showers.
Mold can grow on nearly any surface, spreading invisible spores that can cause a wide range of symptoms both familiar and unexpected.
1. Itchy eyes. While dry weather or allergies could be the cause of itchy or watery eyes, mold exposure can also lead to eye irritation. Those sensitive to mold may produce histamines in response to inhaling the spores, which causes this type of reaction.
2. Post-nasal drip. A sore throat or feeling of a “lump” in the throat are often signs of post-nasal drip—a condition that occurs when excess mucus runs down the back of the throat. There are many possible causes of post-nasal drip including viruses, changing weather and certain medications. However, mold exposure can also cause an increase in mucus production and lead to post-nasal drip.
3. Dry or irritated skin. What many might assume to be the effect of dry winter air or lack of moisture could be a symptom of mold exposure. Individuals sensitive to mold may experience patches of dry, red, scaling or itchy skin.
4. Fever. A fever and shortness of breath could be a sign of a severe mold allergy or exposure to a large amount of mold.
5. Asthma. Individuals diagnosed with asthma may find their symptoms triggered by mold exposure. Studies have suggested mold exposure could also contribute to the development of asthma in some otherwise healthy children, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.