How Mold Exposure Can Trigger Psychiatric Symptoms
By now, many of you know the health issues that mold exposure can cause. Mold-related illnesses include hormonal imbalances, autoimmune disease, chronic inflammation, and more. In addition mold can trigger psychiatric symptoms, such as depression, anxiety, attention problems, brain fog, and insomnia.
Mold is a biotoxin, and it releases toxic gas and spores into the air. When the toxins enter your body, via skin or air, the toxic gases cause a disturbance in many organs, including your brain.
Mold toxicity can manifest in so many different and diverse symptoms, that it is frequently misdiagnosed. It can even exacerbate certain conditions like chronic fatigue, histamine intolerance, leaky gut, and multiple sclerosis. This is due to a chronic inflammatory response in the body when it is exposed to a biotoxin like mold called Chronic Inflammatory Resonse Syndrome .
There are many physical of mold toxicity, like:
- Temperature Regulation or Dysregulation Problems
- Excessive Thirst
However, mold exposure can trigger psychiatric symptoms and other brain-related issues :
- Brain inflammation in the hippocampus, the area of the brain that governs memory, learning, and the sleep-wake cycle
- Impaired memory
- Panic Attacks
When mold toxicity occurs, many of the above symptoms and dysfunctions are triggered. Mold can have such a powerful impact on our sense of well-being that many patients of mine have even expressed a feeling of craziness.
Kunal P. Gandhi, M.D.
Remove Carpeting And Install Hardwood Flooring
Carpets are another key area to target when removing mold in ones house. Carpet not only contain mold, but can grow mold as well as dust mites. Merely steam cleaning and vacuuming the carpets in not enough to remove it, because mold trapped in the fibers in the carpet is too deep to be seen. Opt for wood or pergo flooring instead.
Could Your Depression Anxiety Brain Fog And Insomnia Be Due To Mold Toxicity
Toxic mold based illness is a very prevalent and under diagnosed condition that can manifest in many different ways, including with symptoms that are exclusively psychiatric, such as depression, anxiety, attentional problems, brain fog and insomnia. Vulnerability to mold toxicity is only present in 25% of the population, who in most cases, have a genetic predisposition which inhibits their clearance of biotoxins. A family can all be living in the same house with mold growth, but only one family member will become ill. This is because that person is the only one with the genetic vulnerability.
Mold growth is initiated through water damage. Due to common building practices of using Drywall or Sheetrock, which was not a construction material used in the past, more people are now being exposed to toxic mold, as Drywall is a great medium for mold growth. In addition, the current practice of making homes more energy efficient, means that there is less ventilation with outside air, and toxic mold gasses can be trapped inside, potentiating their effect.
Mold toxins can accumulate in the body, continuing to wreak havoc long after exposure ceases and require an extended course of treatment. But for everyone, the first and most crucial step in treatment, is to identify where the mold is located and to get away from it.
Some of the common symptoms of toxic mold and CIRS are:
36. Metallic Taste
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Joint Pain: Youre Not Alone
In a recent national survey, nearly one out of every three adults in the US reported having joint pain within the last 30 days. In this survey, deep pain was the most common complaint, followed by shoulder and hip pain
Joints connect your bones together, providing your body with support as you move. Joint pain can impact just about any part of your body, including the ankles, feet and hands. While joint pain can occur at any age, it becomes increasingly common as a person ages.
Damage to your joints caused by injury or disease cannot only interfere with movement, but can also be a common cause of pain. Some of the most common conditions leading to painful joints include rheumatoid arthritis, bursitis, osteoarthritis, gout, strains, sprains and other injuries, such as in sports.
As with back pain, joint pain can vary greatly in terms of severity in the amount of time that it lasts. For example, joint pain that resolves within a few weeks is referred to as acute. However, many people suffer from chronic joint pain, or pain that lingers for weeks or months at a time.
Other common causes of joint pain include:
- Autoimmune diseases, including lupus and rheumatoid arthritis
- Seasonal allergies
Skin Infections And Toxic Mold Exposure
In addition to contributing to the development of uncomfortable skin conditions like eczema and dermatitis, mold can cause damaging skin infections. When certain types of mold enter the skin through a puncture wound or scratch, they can cause an infection known as sporotrichosis. For many people, sporotrichosis results in the formation of painless but unsightly red, firm nodules on the skin. These nodules sometimes develop open sores that do not heal without medical intervention and lengthy treatment. These ulcers leave the skin vulnerable to much more dangerous secondary infections, like cellulitis.
According to WebMD, sporotrichosis can become systemic : In very rare cases, the infection can spread to other parts of the body, such as the bones, joints, lungs, and brain. This is more common among those with a weakened immune system. It can be difficult to treat and may be life threatening.
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Can Mold Cause Headaches
How frequently do you get headaches? Are they a rare inconvenience that you sometimes contend with when youve spent too much time staring at your computer screen? Or are they a frequent issue that just seems to act up with little rhyme or reason?
At RealTime Laboratories, one question we sometimes get from clients is, Can mold cause headaches? The short answer is yes, headaches are a known symptom of toxic mold exposureincluding exposure to stachybotrys chartarum, or black mold. Of course, the longer answer is a little more complicatedbut its a lot more educational, to!
How Is The Condition Treated
This is not like osteoarthritis, which may require treatment but is not a medical emergency. Fungal arthritis is an infection, a serious infection. Antifungal medications such as amphotericin B or Diflucan are typically prescribed, but often that is not enough. In many cases, a surgical procedure is required to drain the infected joint. You may need to see both an infectious disease specialist and an orthopedic surgeon for treatment.
In addition to getting the medical treatment you need, youll also need to make sure you are not exposed to further mold. If you contracted the infection via contaminated medication, your physician will need to attempt to track down the source of the contamination and notify the manufacturer of the medication. If, on the other hand, the fungal infection spread through your bloodstream to the affected joint, youll need to determine where you were exposed to mold in the first place and make sure no further exposure occurs.
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Watery And Itchy Eyes
Another warning sign of black mold poisoning is watery and itchy eyes.
Mycotoxins present in the air due to mold can easily enter your eyes. When the mycotoxins come into contact with the cells in your eyes, they cause your eyes to water and become itchy.
You may also notice your throat becoming itchy. This is a common issue related to black mold toxicity.
Other eye problems include inflammation in the eyes, soreness, bloodshot eyes and blurry vision, to name a few.
Can Allergies Cause Joint And Muscle Pain
Allergic reactions are common occurrences in our lives, and in most instances, their effects and severity differ from one person to another depending on the immunity and other underlying factors.
For instance, rarely do people associate joint pain, muscle aches, and fatigue with allergies.
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How Is Joint Pain From Mold Treated
You can apply heat or ice, or alternate the two, to painful joints and that may provide some relief. Over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen might also help. If pain is severe or continues despite home remedies, see your doctor. Let your doctor know if youve been exposed to mold and ask about a possible connection between mycotoxins and joint pain in your case.
Doctors may prescribe pain medications and anti-inflammatory drugs for joint pain caused by mold, but if you continue to be exposed to mold, youll probably continue to have pain even with treatment. In order to achieve lasting relief, youll need to rid your home of all traces of mold so that youre no longer exposed to the mycotoxins that cause joint pain.
Seeing A Doctor For Cirs
If you have any of the above symptoms of CIRS, see a doctor right away. It is critical to seek medical advice as soon as possible, because unlike dealing with the flu or a cold, the effects of Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome may not go away. In fact, ignoring the acute effects of the disease can lead to the development of chronic health illnesses, which can significantly affect you or your familys future quality of life.
Over time, the chronic effects of CIRS can lead to:
- Light sensitivity
- Appetite changes
- Metallic taste
The chronic symptoms of CIRS are alarming and could have a significant impact on your health. Therefore, it is not only important to treat your symptoms, but to also determine their cause as soon as possible. Make an appointment with your doctor to review how you are feeling. At your visit, your doctor will perform a medical exam, as well as discuss your health history for illnesses that cause CIRS and other forms of inflammation. They may also ask you if your immediate family members currently have or have ever had a condition like Lyme disease or cancer. In most cases, they will want a blood test to see if your body is reacting to inflammation. They will look for other reasons for your symptoms, including diabetes mellitus, liver disease, renal disease, and several autoimmune illnesses. They will also talk to you about your diet and home environment to determine if the cause is external.
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Increased Risk For Mold Growth
Buildings with flat roofs or basements, or that are built on hillsides or in shaded areas are at increased risk for mold growth. HVAC systems are also a significant source of mold growth, especially when ducting is in a basement. In addition, water damage can come from a leaking roof, pipe, or appliance such as a dishwasher, refrigerator, or wash machine. Buildings that are poorly maintained are much more susceptible to mold growth. Government buildings and schools, as well as rental apartments and homes, tend to be poorly maintained.
There are also circumstances when water damage to a home or building is apparent. A patient shared a story of a wall caving in under the pressure of a paint roller because the sheetrock was so damp from water damage. Others have reported discovering mold growing on a wall after removing a bed or a picture . I have seen patients who were exposed to mold in their car and at their place of work.
Current and past mold exposure can cause illness. People can continue to have elevated mycotoxins from a past mold exposure long after leaving a moldy environment.
However, most of the time, my patients are unaware they have been exposed to mold until they get tested. Once diagnosed with mold illness, people may recall a house they lived in years prior to their health decline had a musty odor. How about the dorm the college student lived in where the air conditioning unit was on all the time? When did their health decline?
Getting Rid Of Mold For Good
As mentioned above, it is critical that the source of the mold is addressed and eliminated. Due to the complexities involved in mold eradication, it is always a good idea to call the professionals.
While there are DIY kits available for a less expensive solution, calling the professionals will ensure a thorough and complete job. Mold professionals will be able to find hard to reach mold sources that you may not be aware of like crawlspaces, insulation, and ceiling tiles.
Also, the repeated exposure to large amounts of mold will make your symptoms worse, prolonging or reversing the recovery process. Mold professionals offer free consultations identifying mold sources and eradication methods that will give you peace of mind and increased well-being once complete. At the end of the consult, should you decide to still go the DIY route, youll be armed with the information you need to address the problem.
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Proper Testing For Mold Illness
Physicians that specialize in mold illness have narrowed in on tests that are most effective in determining if mold is an underlying cause of someones symptoms. Before considering laboratory tests, there is often a clinical suspicion someone may be suffering from symptoms of mold exposure.
When someone is experiencing any of the above symptoms and no other diagnosis has been made that explains these symptoms mold illness should be considered. There is also the circumstance when someone has another diagnosis such as Lyme disease, but treatments have not been effective in resolving symptoms.
There is no one perfect test to diagnose mold toxicity. I use the two testing methods below to determine if mold and mycotoxins are undermining someones health.
Urine Mycotoxin Test
A urine mycotoxin test indicates whether or not a person is excreting mycotoxins from mold exposure. However, our bodies should excrete mycotoxins after exposure to mold and this does not necessarily mean someone has mold illness. The degree of elevation of mycotoxins in the urine suggests the severity of mold toxicity.
Great Plains Laboratory and Real Time Laboratory are the labs most commonly used by physicians treating mold toxicity. The two labs use different testing methodologies and test for different mycotoxins, so it is hard to compare results between the labs.
Preparation for urine mycotoxin testing
Mycotoxin Antibody Test
Repairing The Intestinal Barrier And Restoring A Healthy Microbiome
Repairing the intestinal barrier and restoring a healthy microbiome include the steps above. Eliminating incoming toxins while cleaning up the toxic load you already carry within your GI system are precursors to adding anything that supports healing. Once youve addressed environment, diet, and binding, however, you can begin to add supportive agents including:
- Butyrate: reduces mucosal inflammation, and reinforces the intestinal barrier9
- Zinc carnosine: stabilizes the gut mucosa10
- Glutamine: Reverses and protects intestinal wall damage
- Colostrum: Repairs damaged intestinal wall cells
- Digestive Enzymes: Assists with fully digesting foods
- Quercetin: Enhances function of the intestinal barrier
- Probiotics: Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, Saccharomyces boulardii , Lactobacillus casei, and Bifidobacterium species replenish healthy bacteria
- Herbs that help heal the gut include: marshmallow, ginger, chamomile
Consuming low-mold, anti-inflammatory foods and supplementing with a combination of these products will help support your immune system, repair damage to your intestinal walls, and restore the bacterial balance to your microbiome. Your body will be better suited to take on any residual mycotoxins circulating through your system as well as handle any new toxins from reexposure.
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Other Toxic Black Mold Allergy Symptoms Due To Exposure To Mycotoxins:
Because mold can attack the pituitary glanda gland situated in the brain that produces and releases necessary hormones like cortisol in the bloodstreamonce mycotoxins enter your bloodstream, toxic black mold can cause PMS symptoms, PCOS , menopause symptoms, and many more hormonal issues which can lead to a number of other reproductive disorders. This can affect estrogen and testosterone levels, thereby increasing the latter and decreasing the former and subsequently causing cysts on a womans ovaries. Because of these cystic ovaries, affected women can face difficulty in losing weight, hair loss, and other issues caused by hormonal imbalances resulting from exposure to toxic black mold.
In addition to reproductive symptoms, people with mold allergies can suffer from severe muscle pain, muscle twitching, stomach ulcers, fibromyalgia, joint pain and IgA nephropathy, which is a disease that impacts the kidneys. Mold allergy symptoms related to hearing include ringing in the ears, sensitivity to sound, and, in extreme cases, hearing loss. Mycotoxins can cause a person to become allergic to certain foods like cheese, mushrooms, fish, jams, jellies and much more. People exposed to mold spores can also show symptoms of multiple sclerosis, may experience a metallic or dirt like taste in their mouth, and can face excessive thirst and urination. They can also face difficulty in regulating their body temperatures.
Signs Of A Mold Illness
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New Study Shows Mold Triggers Brain Inflammation
Landlords dismiss it, friends and family think youre making it up, and doctors have no idea what youre talking about but mold illness is often an unsuspected trigger of chronic health problems. The recent revelation of a string pediatric deaths at a Seattle hospital due to mold in the air system brought national attention to the gravity of mold illness.
Newer construction methods and materials, water damage that was not properly addressed, high indoor humidity levels, and genetic susceptibility are all factors that play a role in whether a person becomes sick from mold. Estimates vary, but some research shows up to 85 percent of building inspected had past water damage.
A new study found that people affected by mold illness experienced:
- Brain inflammation in the hippocampus, the area of the brain that governs memory, learning, and the sleep-wake cycle.
- Impaired memory.
- Increased sensitivity to pain.
- Increased anxiety.
The study also noted that the mold spore alone is not necessary to trigger mold reactions and mold illness. Weve long known that mycotoxins, toxic compounds produced by mold spores small enough to pass through most materials, are the primary trigger in mold illness.
The study also found that mold spore skeletal elements and other mold metabolites also cause symptoms of mold illness.