What is Mold Poisoning?

Jessica Ellis

Mold and mildew are a part of domestic life. Anywhere that damp and dank corners exist, such as between leaky roofs and ceilings, in disused garages, or even in poorly insulated homes, mold can propagate alarmingly fast. Mold poisoning is the result of chronic or prolonged exposure to mold, and can have serious or even fatal effects. Mold poisoning is often extremely difficult to diagnose, as oftentimes the sick person is not even aware of mold growing in his or her environment.

Mold poisoning may result in sinus issues.
Mold poisoning may result in sinus issues.

The environment is constantly filled with mold spores. Most are harmless and some are even beneficial to humans: yeast, cheese, and penicillin are all products or types of mold. Certain species, however, are toxic to humans and usually are referred to as toxic mold or black mold. If a person breathes in mold spores from a harmful form of mold or mildew, he or she may develop mold poisoning. Generally, the longer the exposure, the higher the chance for severe toxicity, but people with existing respiratory disorders are usually considered to be at a higher risk overall.

Mold poisoning can be prevented by wearing a face mask in contaminated areas.
Mold poisoning can be prevented by wearing a face mask in contaminated areas.

Symptoms of mold poisoning are numerous and hard to pin down. Though respiratory problems, such as chronic coughing, constant allergy symptoms, and nosebleeds are common, there are many other symptoms associated with toxic mold. Neurological symptoms, including headaches, memory loss, the development of personality disorders, and vertigo, can all be related to mold poisoning. Rashes are also a common symptom that indicate mold exposure to the skin.

Airway irritation can be caused by mold poisoning.
Airway irritation can be caused by mold poisoning.

It is often difficult to diagnose mold poisoning, since doctors may be presented with a collection of unrelated symptoms without a discernible cause. People displaying symptoms may simply be told they have a cold or flu, or even accused of hypochondria. Mold poisoning may sometimes be diagnosed through blood tests that measure the amount of certain chemical compounds in the blood, though this is not always an accurate or available method. Often, diagnosis may take months, and may not be definitively found until evidence of the actual mold is presented.

Chronic coughing may be a sign of mold poisoning.
Chronic coughing may be a sign of mold poisoning.

In addition to treating the symptoms, it is important to remove the chance of mold poisoning by reducing the spread of mold and removing mold growth. If several people come down with similar symptoms, it may be important to hire a professional mold removal company to perform an inspection and test samples. If mold is discovered, it may be best to allow professionals to handle the removal process, as chances of dangerous exposure are high without proper respiratory and protective gear.

Mold can flourish on any organic material, including dirt and wood.
Mold can flourish on any organic material, including dirt and wood.

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Discussion Comments


A dear friend of mine died about a year and a half ago. All the obit said was "died at home." I suspect he died from the mold he constantly breathed in at home. I'd go to his house and the stench of mold everywhere nearly knocked me over. When I got home, I had to shower and wash my clothes immediately, as I just reeked of the stuff. I guess he was so used to it that he couldn't smell it anymore. What a stupid, preventable death. The house was demolished after his death.


There is black mold in my basement but I don't have symptoms of mold exposure. If I avoid going in there, will I still get poisoned?


@feruze-- It's a great idea to pay a building inspector to look for sources of toxic mold in your apartment and building. But before you do that (because it costs a lot), you might want to stay somewhere else for a few weeks and see if there is an improvement in your health.

Can you take a vacation or stay with a friend or family member for a few weeks in another place? But you also have to leave belongings behind otherwise you might take the mold spores with you to the new place. If you fell better at someone else's home and if your symptoms reduce, this is a sign that there might be toxic mold in your home.

My sister was never diagnosed with mold poisoning but she was sick all the time like you. She moved to a new place (thankfully she was renting, so that was easy) and she got better after a few months. It was probably toxic mold in her case too. I think the best and only treatment is to get rid of the mold or to move somewhere else. I don't know how else you could get better if you continue to inhale that mold.


I'm starting to suspect that I might be suffering from mold poisoning. I have constant headaches and allergy symptoms. I feel tired, unwell and irritable. All my symptoms started after I bought and moved into my apartment. I've been to three different doctors in these past two years and no one has found anything wrong with me. I plan on scheduling another appointment and asking about the blood test mentioned in this article.

Is there any other way that I can be diagnosed? Should I have some mold experts come and take look at my apartment? Does anyone else here have mold allergy or poisoning?

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