Memory Loss
From Mold Exposure

You may not associate memory loss with mold exposure, but perhaps you should. When most people hear about health problems related to exposure to mold in the home, they think of things like respiratory problems, asthma and allergies. Those are common symptoms of mold-related illness, but exposure to mold can cause other problems, as well. You can read about some of the common mold-related health problems.

There have been only a few studies done on the subject of mold and memory to date, but the research does show that exposure to mold can have a negative effect on memory, particularly short-term memory. It may cause other neurological impairments, as well, including problems with concentration, judgment and executive functioning (the ability to plan, organize, and manage your time). Here we’re going to talk specifically about memory, but you can read more about the effect of mold on concentration.

What Does the Research Say About Memory Loss and Mold?

A psychologist from City University of New York named Cheryl Harding studied the effect of mold exposure on mice, particularly the effect on their memory. She and her colleagues put low doses of Stachybotrys mold spores (the type of mold sometimes referred to as black mold or toxic mold) directly into the noses of mice three times a week. After just three weeks, the researchers could see that the mice were having trouble with short-term memory. They had trouble remembering a frightening place. They also seemed increasingly anxious.

According to an article in Science News, when compared to mice in a control group that hadn’t been exposed to mold, they had fewer new brain cells in the hippocampus, a part of the brain related to memory.

It’s noteworthy that the mice experienced problems with memory after being exposed to mold for just three weeks. We don’t know what effect longer periods of exposure to mold might have on memory, but it’s certainly possible the effect would be even greater. 

Of course, mice aren’t people, but people living in homes with lots of mold often do complain of memory problems and other cognitive problems, and the brains of mice are similar to those of humans, which is why mice are often used in medical experiments. Research suggests mold may affect humans in similar ways.

Household MoldMold found behind washing machine

What Should You Do If You’re Experiencing Memory Loss?

Everyone has moments of forgetfulness, but if you feel your memory is slipping or you are forgetting more than normal, see your doctor. Don’t ignore the development of memory problems because it can be a symptom of a serious medical condition. Let your doctor know if you’ve been exposed to mold and if you’re experiencing any other symptoms.  

Your doctor will do a thorough examination and may also order some tests in order to make an accurate diagnosis. Lots of things other than mold can cause memory loss, including stroke, head injury, Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, depression, stress, sleep deprivation, nutritional deficiencies, use or abuse of alcohol or drugs, and certain medications. Therefore it may take a little time for your doctor to determine the cause of your memory problems.

Treatment will be prescribed based on the results of your exam and any tests you have undergone. In addition to prescribing the appropriate medical treatment, your doctor will most likely advise you to avoid further exposure to mold as much as you can.

Avoiding Exposure to Mold

In order to recover from mold-related memory problems, as well as any other mold-related health problems, you’ll need to avoid exposure to mold. Otherwise, even with medical treatment, your symptoms may worsen.  

Mold will need to be removed from your home as soon as you can make arrangements for the work to be done. If you’re already experiencing health problems related to mold, your doctor may recommend not attempting to clean up mold yourself because the cleanup process will expose you to mold spores that may make your condition worse.

We suggest scheduling a free in-home consultation with a mold removal professional to discuss the work that needs to be done in your home. Even if you decide to tackle the mold removal yourself, you’ll get some valuable advice from an experienced professional, including tips on how to protect yourself from excessive exposure to mold spores during the cleanup process. We do recommend consulting your physician as well, of course. Follow this link to find qualified mold removal professionals offering free in-home consultations in your area.

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