Respiratory Disorders Expert Forum
Black Lung due to Mold
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Black Lung due to Mold

My Mom suddenly developed breathing problems about 4-5  years ago, no history before, never smoked, was a surgical nurse most of her nursing career.  Her doc, whom claims to be a pulmonary specialist, ran test after test, and never giving her a definitive diagnosis.  She can not breath in.  Finally after my interviening with this doc he sent her to another doc who is a cancer specialist, and seemed to be way more informed about a lot of things.  Oh by the way my Mom just turned 86.  Then finally they diagnoised  her with Pulminary Fibrosis, they said her lungs were black and there was nothing she or they could do.  Recently she spoke to someone who claimed to have the same symptons (called it black lung) and it was caused by the bad mold in the house.  They did, about 6 years ago have a huge leak in the roof that went down into the walls. They replaced the roof and just repainted the walls.   At that time there was no indication of mold.  

It is so frustrating for her, not being able to breath, no hope and she is getting weaker by the day.  

They are having their home checked for mold tomorrow.  What are the chances her condition is caused by mold and is there any hope for her.  Her age is preventing adequate medical care, I believe.  

Thank you
Sandi Brumund -Daughter
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I am sorry to hear about your Mother’s serious lung disease.  In the general sense, the term Pulmonary Fibrosis, describes a condition characterized by progressive scarring of the lung tissue.  Such scarring (fibrosis) can be the result of a disease called Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF), the cause of which is unknown or the fibrosis can be the end-stage of other lung diseases, in particular one called Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis, a disease for which there are many known causes including bacteria, fungi, molds, animal proteins and industrial chemicals.  These conditions cause inflammation of the lung that, when chronic, leads to fibrosis.  You will note that the list of causes includes fungi and a number of these fungi can be found within a person’s home.  Thus it is possible that, if your Mom’s home contained one or more of a number of what could be called fungi or mold that exposure contributed to her pulmonary fibrosis.  It is the nature of this disease that it remains silent and relatively undetectable until it enters the chronic stage.  Years may pass until symptoms finally develop and the seemingly sudden development of symptoms signals the presence of the disease that may have been harming the lungs for a long while.

The prognosis depends in part on the type of fibrosis and the factor(s) that caused it.  When the cause is identified, the prognosis worsens with continuing exposure.  

When the house is checked for mold, now, the check should include areas inside the walls and under the floor, be it wood, tile or carpeted.  Checking inside the walls and under the floor can often be accomplished without damaging wall or floor, by taking samples where pipes or electrical outlets allow within-the-wall sampling.

Judging from the information you have provided, the severity of her shortness of breath and your Mother’s age of 86, her prognosis is probably not very good.  A lung specialist who’s examined your Mother and all her test (including X-rays) results and who has had experience with this type of lung disease would be the person best qualified to render a prognosis.  In general, a person’s age alone should not be an impediment to the provision of optimum care, especially if her quality of life was satisfactory, prior to the onset of respiratory symptoms.

Good luck to you and your Mother
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