The mold spores adhere to surfaces and, if conditions are warm enough, humid, and undisturbed, extrude tendrils that turn almost any surface into food – they form the fuzzy structures that come out of the corner of the shower. Ceiling tiles, wood, paint, rubber, carpet, dirt, dust; it is food for the mold, just add water.
How do you know when the mold has arrived? It’s simple: you will feel the – how to put it? – the end products suspended in the air from its digestive processes. That’s right, mold farts. âAnytime you smell that musty smell, that moldy smell, it’s what you breathe,â said David Denning, principal investigator at Manchester Fungal Infection Group and professor at the University of Manchester, England.
What effect does all this fungal activity have on health? Generally speaking, we know that there are two main ways that mold can engage the immune system, and they depend on whether your system is under-nourished or overactive.
If you are undergoing chemotherapy or have recently had an organ transplant, the firepower of your evolved immune system may have been depleted. The fungus can colonize the lungs and start treating you like it would with ceiling tiles or wood panels, said Matthew Fisher, epidemiologist at Imperial College London. But it is more often a problem in hospitals, home infections are extremely rare.
You’re much more likely to have an overactive immune system that panics when confronted with the irritating proteins found in mold spores and filaments. The filaments are deposited on the mucous membranes of our eyes, nose and mouth, causing tearing, itching, sneezing, coughing, or asthma attacks.
For the most part, these stop when you leave the moldy room. But experts estimate that between 5 and 10 percent of the population are more susceptible than others. âIn an environment colonized by fungi, you will also inhale these spores every day and you could potentially be sensitized to them,â said Elaine Bignell, Ph.D., who co-leads the Manchester Fungal Infection Group.
Awareness means that your body recognizes a substance and reacts aggressively to its slightest traces. If you already have asthma, you may have a “fungal asthma. “