From shrinking testicles to weight gain – the 4 surprising ways your mouldy home is making you sick | The Sun
6th March 2023

MOULD in the home is not only unsightly, but can damage your health.

The toxic fuzz affects more than a fifth of UK households, a recent study has found.

With both increased rainfall and surging gas and electric prices the risk of damp and mould in the buildings we live in is only going to get worse.

There are many different ways mould can affect your health – some more surprising than others.

1. Shrinking testicles

While normal amounts of mould are unlikely to make an impact, excess mould in homes can cause major hormonal issues, studies have found.

Experts at online pharmacy Chemist Click said that certain types of mould that grow in water-damaged buildings and furniture may lower testosterone in men and women.

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Pharmacist Abbas Kanani, an expert from Chemist Click, said: “Low testosterone levels can cause erectile dysfunction in men.

"This can also impact testicle size, as well as cause loss of armpit and pubic hair and low or zero sperm count," he added.

2. Weight gain

In women, low testosterone levels can trigger weight gain, according to Abbas.

Mould can also cause weight gain in other ways.

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Leptin, a hormone that regulates appetite, can be affected by mould.

According to Dr Susan Tanner, a family doctor and mould expert based in the US, the fuzzy stuff triggers the body's inflammatory response which blocks leptin receptors in the body.

This imbalance of leptin decreases metabolism and stimulates hunger leading to weight gain, she explained.

3. Respiratory infections

If you have damp and mould in your home you're more likely to have respiratory infections.

"Some people can be more sensitive to these issues than others," Thorrun Govind, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s (RPS) English Pharmacy Board, explained.

"Those with weakened immune systems, including older people, babies and children are more susceptible," she said.

Aspergillosis is a condition caused by mould found in damp buildings.

In some people, the spores trigger an allergic reaction.

Other people develop mild to serious lung infections, according to the NHS.

The most serious form of aspergillosis — invasive aspergillosis — occurs when the infection spreads to blood vessels and beyond.

Last year, two-year old Awaab Ishak died of respiratory failure after being exposure to mould in his own home.

4. Asthma

Damp and mould can also bring on asthma, Thorrun said.

"The mould produces allergens, irritants and toxic substances which, when you breath in, can causes trigger asthma symptoms like coughing, wheezing, sneezing or watery eyes," she said.

The US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention says recent studies have suggested mould exposure could lead to the development of asthma in some children.

“If you’ve noticed your symptoms getting worse speak to your GP or asthma nurse.

They can support you to manage your asthma well and update your asthma action plan. 

They can also talk to you about antihistamines and nasal sprays to help you manage allergy symptoms better,” says Dr Andy Whittamore, Asthma + Lung UK’s in-house GP.  

What are the signs that your home is causing sickness?

Typically the signs are respiratory or what you'd typically see with allergies.

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They can include:

  • A runny nose
  • Red or itchy eyes
  • Skin rash
  • Wheezing
  • Headaches
  • Coughing, including at night
  • Sore throat

5 ways to prevent damp and mould at home

Asthma + Lung UK are aware that mould can exacerbate or trigger asthma symptoms in those with the condition. They give their top five tips to start combating mould in your home today

1. Open windows and doors so air can move around. But be cautious on high pollen or pollution days if these are triggers for you.

2. Try to avoid drying clothes indoors. If you have nowhere else to dry them, open a window if you can.

3. Use extractor fans in the kitchen and bathroom or open a window when cooking or after a shower.

4. Close the door of the room you’re in if you’re cooking or showering to prevent condensation in other rooms

5. Try to keep your home at a good background temperature so it never gets too cold at least 15 degrees in all rooms

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