How can mold lead to lung diseases

Mold in the home increases the risk of respiratory diseases


Around every third apartment in Germany is infected with mold, which occurs due to moisture damage and can cause respiratory diseases and allergies. In the case of immunocompromised, they are even capable of causing an infection of the entire body, which can be fatal.

Mold in the home can cause allergies and respiratory diseases. The cause are mostly organic substances that are formed by the fungi and given off into the air in the room. “These usually also provide the typical moldy smell,” explains private lecturer Pietro Nenoff from the Laboratory for Medical Microbiology in Mölbis (Saxony). They can cause irritation of the mucous membranes, edema and inflammation. As a result, viruses and bacteria then have an easy time attacking the weakened airways.

According to a current and representative study carried out at the University of Jena in the Institute for Occupational, Social and Environmental Medicine under the direction of Dr. Sabine Brasche was carried out, around every third apartment in Germany is affected by mold as a result of moisture damage. In polluted apartments, the occurrence of respiratory diseases is 1.4 to 2.2 times more common than in uncontaminated apartments, reports the Ärzte Zeitung in Neu-Isenburg.

Have complaints clarified by a specialist
However, according to Thomas Gabrio from the Stuttgart State Health Office, fungus-related allergies are very difficult to detect. In most cases, any complaints that occur could not be attributed with certainty to the suspected fungi, because the special allergen-allergen
These are substances that are classified as "foreign" by the body's immune system and are therefore attacked, which leads to an excessive defense reaction (= allergy with hypersensitivity of the body to the respective allergen).
A distinction is made between animal, vegetable and chemical allergens, with almost any environmental substance triggering an allergy. A potential allergen is a substance that, due to its biochemical nature, can cause an allergic reaction more frequently than other substances.
- Extracts of many types of mold are not available for an allergy test. Often those affected are also sensitized to grass pollen and suffer from hay fever. Only a specialist (e.g. a pulmonologist specializing in allergology) can therefore determine whether there is actually an allergy to mold.

Skin diseases caused by molds occur particularly rarely - but increasingly more frequently. These are not only caused by wall mold, but also by Alternaria alternata fungi that grow on foods such as flour, fruit and vegetables. In addition, molds can also cause severe systemic infections - diseases that affect the whole body and are often fatal. These occur when the mold spores are whirled up by air currents and then inhaled so that they penetrate the deeper airways. However, such systemic diseases only have to fear people whose immune system is immune
The body's defense system consists of three functional circles:
(1) Bone marrow as a site for the formation of immune cells.
(2) Various central immune organs such as thymus (imprinting T lymphocytes) and lymphatic organs near the gut (for imprinting B lymphocytes).
(3) Secondary lymphatic organs such as the spleen, lymph nodes and tonsils (tonsils).
A distinction is made between the so-called humoral defense (via the body fluids containing antibodies and factors from the so-called complement system) and the cell-mediated defense (with B and T cells, macrophages, antigen-presenting cells, granulocytes, etc.).
Is weakened anyway, so that the fungi can attack the central nervous system or the lungs. Sick people with severe, prolonged immune deficiency - such as after an organ transplant or due to cancer treatment - are particularly at risk.

- (Study on air change - recording of mold formation. Project management: Dr. oec. S. Brasche. Brief description: Determination of the prevalence of moisture and mold damage in German apartments. Cross-sectional study, interview and expert assessment, representative nationwide sample of apartments)