If you have a stuffy or runny nose, irritated eyes, a persistent cough or chest congestion, your first thought may be that you have a cold. But what if the symptoms don't go away? While colds get better on their own, a reaction to mold won't. And exposure to household mold can cause any (or all) of the symptoms listed above. So how can you determine whether your problems are caused by mold?
If you're looking for mold, the most common areas of the house to find it are bathrooms, kitchens, and basements; these are the most humid rooms in most homes. Since mold loves humidity, you should also take a look in any areas where you've had water leaks or flooding.
Mold can grow on nearly any surface, so be sure to check floors and ceilings as well as walls. Visible dark spots or areas are a sign of mold; it may look also fuzzy when examined up-close.
Unfortunately, even if you don't spot mold around your home, that doesn't mean that you're mold-free. Mold can also grow behind walls, above ceilings, and below floors. This is most likely if there's been a water leak, so one thing to look for in your home besides mold is signs of a leak. Water spots on ceilings or walls are one sign; water can also cause paint to peel, plaster to bubble, and wood to swell or crack.
While you're looking around your home, pay attention to your nose as well. Mold gives off a musty, stale odor. You may be able to track the mold to its source by following this smell; if not, the presence of the smell is cause for a mold inspection.
Symptoms Mainly At Home
If you can't find any signs of mold but your allergic symptoms won't go away, one thing to pay attention to is where your symptoms are worst. If your breathing becomes wheezing when you arrive at work and clears up in the evening, it's more likely that something at your workplace is causing your problems. On the other hand, if taking a walk in the fresh air helps and relaxing at home doesn't, then household mold is much more likely.
If you think you've got mold but you can't see any yourself, you can always get a professional mold inspection. With tools like moisture meters, mold inspectors can narrow down likely locations for mold, opening up walls or other closed-off areas to discover where it may be hiding.
It's also important that you have a professional do your mold inspection if you have asthma or other chronic breathing difficulties. If you try to inspect yourself, you may disturb the mold, which can cause serious breathing problems.