Molds (fungi) produce hundreds of different toxic chemicals (mycotoxins) and allergic (allergy causing) proteins which can worsen asthma and allergies. Many studies have linked higher levels of indoor and outdoor mold spores with higher rates of asthma and other respiratory problems. Some researchers have estimated that mold exposure is responsible for roughly 20% of all asthma.
A case study was presented of a 44 year-old woman who developed severe asthma after moving to an apartment with walls covered with several types of mold. In one year, she required 8 asthma related trips to the emergency room and many treatments with oral prednisone. (Oral prednisone has many bad side effects including weight gain, lowered immunity to infection and poorer wound healing.) The patients lung function (as measured by peak flow rates) was only 46% of that predicted.
The mold on the apartment walls were removed with a cleaning and bleach regime followed by monthly cleaning. Following removing mold from the walls, the patients breathing greatly improved. The patients lung function rose to 89% of the predicted levels. The patient still required nasal and lung sprays for asthma control, but no longer needed the oral prednisone or visits to the emergency room.
This research was published in the Journal of Asthma 2010;47:2-6.
I encourage all asthmatic patients to obtain a peak flow meter for monitoring of asthma. Peak flow meters cost about $15 and are an easy way to measure severity of asthma at home. The patient merely blows into the peak flow meter and the maximum air flow rate is recorded. By recording the peak flow levels day to day, the asthmatic can follow improvements or worsening of asthma and know whether to contact a physician.