How Do You Know If Mold Is Making You Sick
Are you sick and suspect it might be from mold?
Determining whether exposure to mold is making you sick isnt always easy.
Each persons body is affected by mold toxicity in different ways. Some experience constant migraines and headaches, shortness of breath, brain fog, fatigue or even depression.
Since symptoms differ from person to person, they may not be quickly associated with mold exposure. Many people suffering from mold illness struggle to get a proper diagnosis and investigation.
Its common to think my house is clean it cant be mold! However, mold comes in many forms. In this article, well share what toxic mold is, the signs and symptoms, and how it can be treated.
Testing For And Diagnosing Mold Illness In A Clinical Setting
A helpful technique that practitioners of environmental medicine, such as myself, are taught to do is to draw a timeline of each patients health history. By doing so, we are able to tie together the onset of symptoms with certain environmental exposures or illnesses. This exercise often provides the greatest clue in figuring out what is going on with the patient. However, it is also necessary to look at several objective tests to determine what is going on.
One of the first things with mold that we cannot lose sight of is the fact that testing the environment is just as important as running tests on the patient. A patient cannot be sick from mold if they are not being exposed. To that end, ordering mold plates and doing some simple DIY testing, or calling in a licensed and certified professional mold inspector to come in to look at the mold counts in the home, car, and workplace is extremely important. This information will also be important for getting the patient out of the exposure, so that treatment can work, and they can properly respond and heal.
As for testing of the patient, there are several things that I find very helpful and important, both for diagnosis and for convincing of family members, work place supervisors, and at times, proving in a court of law that a moldy environment was the cause of illness.
What follows are those tests that I find most helpful in looking at the problem:
1. A fungal culture of the nose and sinuses
2. IgG mold antibodies test
Detoxify To Remove Mold Toxins
Mold doctors can help you detoxify by using a combination of binders to help remove toxins from your body. Some of the common binders used to help remove mold are:
- Activated Charcoal Activated charcoal must be carefully administered because it will bind to everything, including toxins, vitamins, minerals, and other medications. If activated charcoal is used, your integrative physician will need to carefully monitor your nutrition, and supplementation may be required. Because of the mechanisms of activated charcoal, it is best used for an acute situation.
- Bentonite Clay Bentonite clay comes from volcano ash and has been used around the world for many years to help detoxify the body. Bentonite clay absorbs heavy metals, toxins, and other harmful materials. It also provides the body with a variety of minerals, including magnesium, potassium, iron, calcium, and sodium. Bentonite clay provides the body with some antibacterial and antiviral properties.
- Chlorella Chlorella is an alga that does a great job of detoxifying the body. Chlorella binds to toxins and heavy metals in the digestive tract and helps transport it out of the body. Unlike other types of binders , chlorella does not remove minerals and nutrients from the body. In fact, chlorella can help boost immunity naturally. Because there is no risk of nutritional deficiencies with long term use, it is a popular binder used by integrative practitioners.
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Effective Treatment For Symptoms Of Mold Exposure
Get Your Home Tested Properly
Proper mold inspection requires hiring an experienced Indoor Environmental Professional that uses various testing techniques to ensure there has not been water damage leading to mold growth in your home. When someone is sick in the household, the degree of mold testing needs to be more comprehensive than if someone was doing a general home inspection. I have witnessed mold inspectors miss water damage and mold growth in patients homes because they did not do a thorough investigation, or used the wrong testing methods.
Proper testing for mold helps to establish the scope of work for remediation. It is a conflict of interest to hire an inspector who also does remediation. However, most reputable inspectors can recommend a contractor who specializes in mold remediation.
To find a certified IEP in your area, visit www.acac.org and look for CIEC and CMC certifications. You will also find certified remediators with CMRS and CMR designation.
Treatments for mold Illness
Prescription medications and supplements referred to as binders are used to reduce the mycotoxin burden in the body. Technically these compounds do not bind mycotoxins, but they adsorb like static cling. Mycotoxins are secreted with bile from the gallbladder into the intestines. Mycotoxins adhere to binders in the intestines and then excreted through the stool.
Glutathione in Treating Mold Toxicity
Reduce Inflammation in Mold Toxicity
- Transfer Factors Enviro
Clear Out Other Pathogens
On the flip side, parasites and other infections can weaken your immune system. That makes you more vulnerable to mold toxicity.
Either way, kicking out unwanted critters helps reduce the strain on your immune system.
Moreover, mold spores may hide inside parasites. And, some parasitic worms can block your bile ducts, interfering with toxin drainage. This means you may not be able to fully recover from mold illness until you give parasites the boot.
In short, as discussed in this video, there are many supplement strategies to help you overcome mold toxicity.
Still, youll be fighting an uphill battle if you continue to live or work in a moldy building. That can make you sensitive to supplements and other get-well strategies. So, dont overlook this elephant in the room.
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Seek Social Support Restorative Resources And Adjunct Therapies
Recovering from illness caused by mold exposure can be exhausting, isolating and incredibly stressful. Social support is essential for your overall wellbeing and for a return to optimal health. Additionally, specific tools may also be beneficial in bringing your body back into balance after an overactive stress response.
Air Oasis Air Sanitizers
Air Oasis air sanitizers work differently than HEPA filters. They use a technology developed by NASA called advanced hydration photocatalytic oxidation to destroy mold, bacteria, and other microorganisms with ultraviolet light and a catalyst. We have a few of the Air Angel units in smaller rooms, as well as an AO3000 in the main living area. Important note: I currently recommend running the AO units only when you are not in the rooms, and turning them off when you enter. This is due to the small amounts of ozone that they release. Though these levels are well below the recommended limit according to AOs website, I prefer to be cautious. I also recommend using a HEPA/charcoal filter along with the AO devices, rather than using them on their own.
Start With Diet Lifestyle And Gut Health
Sometimes, symptoms that are associated with mold illness might actually be caused by poor gut health or inflammation. Making changes to diet and lifestyle can resolve some or all symptoms, potentially eliminating the need for mycotoxin testing.
Its also easier to test for and treat mold toxicity if results are not confounded by gut health symptoms. Some important factors to consider are:
- Diet: Anti-inflammatory and gut-healing diets that focus on whole foods have been shown to improve symptoms like fatigue and brain fog [11, 12, 13
- Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source].
Another reason to start with your diet and lifestyle is that these factors might actually influence your mycotoxin test results. Many mycotoxin tests work by measuring the toxins that your body is eliminating. However, if diet and lifestyle components are not in place, your body may be less capable of excreting toxins.
This can mean not only worse health and symptoms but also that testing may not reflect your bodys true ability to rid itself of mycotoxins.
How To Remove Mold
- Wear old clothes and shoes that you can launder or throw away after the cleanup work.
- Wear special N-95 or P-100 respirators, in addition to goggles and gloves.
- Set an old box fan or a cheap new one in a window to ventilate the room while working. Throw it out when you’re done cleaning, because the spores are almost impossible to clean off. Tape plywood or cardboard around the window openings so the spores can’t blow back in.
- Wrap and tape moldy carpeting in 6-mil plastic, and double-bag mold-infested debris in garbage bags for disposal.
- To control airborne spores, moisten moldy areas with a garden sprayer while you work.
- Turn off your furnace and air conditioner and cover ducts and doors to contain spores.
- Keep your wet/dry vacuum outside when you vacuum.
Also Check: What Will Black Mold Do To You
Is Mycotoxin Testing Worth It
Mycotoxin testing can be helpful in some cases, but there are a number of points to consider before jumping in.
- Mycotoxicity is not well defined. Research on mycotoxin testing is still in its infancy. This means that even those who study mycotoxins or mold for a living dont know exactly how to interpret mycotoxin test results. This doesnt necessarily mean that test results cant be useful they should always be taken with a grain of salt.
- Choosing the best test is challenging. There are many different kinds of mycotoxin and mold tests available, using not only different methods but different reference ranges, and even looking at different kinds of mold species and mycotoxins. This makes an area that is already lacking in research even more confusing.
- Mold can be a red herring. Mold or mycotoxins may show up in small quantities on tests, even if the levels are likely not problematic. This can be a distraction from true underlying health issues that need to be addressed.
- Mold-related illnesses are complex. Even as we begin to untangle the nuances in testing, there is a lack of consensus when it comes to the treatment of mold-related illnesses and mycotoxicity. In other words, mycotoxin testing might provide clues to treatments, but it does not provide a road map.
Can Mold Harm My Health
Most types of mold do not harm people. In fact, doctors use some varieties to improve health. For instance, penicillin is a useful mold that has saved many peoples lives. However, not all molds are beneficial. In fact, people often develop health issues when they come into contact with harmful species of molds.
If you are in an environment with a large mold presence, you may breathe in mold spores. The antigens in these spores can enter your body and cause a variety of harmful health conditions.
Also Check: Who To Contact About Mold In Your Home
Detox Supplements & Research
- CytoDetox: This specialty detox product can help eliminate mold toxin buildup within the body.
- Use high-quality probiotics.
- Take supplements that increase glutathione within the body. GCEL is a wonderful supplement in this category to try. N-acetyl cysteine is also an excellent choice, as it has been shown to replenish intracellular glutathione14. Among its many benefits, glutathione is known to decrease oxidative stress15, and help overcome autoimmune diseases. Research has found that low levels of glutathione can be an underlying cause of oxidative stress16
- Binders: Most toxins are processed by the kidney or liver. Fat soluble toxins are processed by the liver, and are put into the bile complex. The bile complex is then emptied into the small intestine. Adding binders can bind aflatoxins and mycotoxins to aid in successful toxin elimination17. Activated carbon has also been shown effective at removing BPA and common pesticides from the body18.
- Using natural treatments such as antioxidants, antifungals, clay, and chlorella have also been proven effective in removing mold and mycotoxins19.
- Since mold can aggravate autoimmune conditions, it is even more important for those with one of these conditions to be vigilant removing mold and mycotoxin exposure. Follow these 7 keys to any autoimmune diet protocol.
Symptoms Of Mold Toxicity
Mold illness is a serious medical condition that is often misdiagnosed due to the plethora of symptoms that it can cause. Toxic mold stores can cause the body to experience an inflammatory cascade that can cause a number of symptoms including-
- Joint Pain or Inflammation
- Skin irritations rashes, itchy skin and redness
- Eye irritations itchy eyes, watery eyes and red eyes
- Respiratory Disturbances coughing, wheezing, asthma attacks and difficulty breathing
Once you have been diagnosed with mold toxicity or biotoxin illness, you should take an integrative approach to eliminate the toxins in your body. Treating mold toxicity is sometimes quite challenging. Contact a functional medicine doctor for help.
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Removing Mold In Your Home
In optimal conditions, mold can grow in your home within 24-48 hours.
Another high-risk area for being exposed to mold and mycotoxins is your home. The EPA estimates that 60% of all buildings have mold or other air quality hazards. Every room and outdoor space is susceptible to growing harmful strains.
Risk factors for developing mold in your home include:
- High humidity levels 11
- Water damage
- Poor ventilation
In reducing your mold exposure, prevention is key. This is especially true if your home has been hit by a major water event, such as flooding or a hurricane.12 Immediately cleaning up water damage, keeping humidity levels at < 50%, and ensuring proper ventilation are all great ways to prevent mold from growing in your home.
However, there are some exceptional strategies for removing mold from your home if growth has already occurred:
- A product called Homebiotics. Rather than using bleach when removing mold, this spray is a natural way to prevent and eliminate mold.
- Although HEPA air filters are a great way to keep your home free of allergens, having a photocatalytic air purifier goes steps further in removing mold. These air purifiers reduce mold by disinfecting the air .
Common Signs Of Toxic Mold Poisoning
Symptoms and signs of mycotoxins poisoning are very different depending on many factors. How this poisoning presents itself depends on:
- Type of mycotoxin
- Genetic structure
- And others
This means there can be a major difference in symptoms between individuals in the population exposed to it. To some extent it is clear that mycotoxicosis can increase susceptibility to infections, worsen the effect of other toxins present and advance other health conditions.
Although acute poisoning is more obvious and sometimes has grave effects, chronic exposure is much more present in the population in general. Finally, mycotoxins can cause changes in immune, nervous system, behavior, mood and even development problems like stunting.
The other way that molds can affect your health is through allergy and IgE-mediated pathways. Mold can introduce multiple different types of antigens to your system. One of the main antigens involved is mold spores. Mold can lead to asthma, hypersensitivity reactions, and pulmonary inflammatory disease.
There are many different variants that could cause a patient to have one reaction compared to another. One of these factors is the human leukocyte antigen patterns. Another likely significant factor is the glutathione transferase genes. One study found that polymorphism in GSTP1 influenced illness and treatment after exposure to water-damaged buildings.
Read Also: What Will Kill Mold Spores
But Removal From Exposure Isnt Enough For Most Patients With Cirs
While removal from exposure is an important first step, as I mentioned above, there are at least 10 other steps in the protocol.
People with CIRS have genetic mutations that make them unable to remove the biotoxins that have accumulated in their bodies. This means that getting away from the biotoxins may stop them from building up further, but it will not remove them.
Removal of biotoxins in patients with CIRS usually begins with binders like cholestyramine or colesevelam . Other steps include eradicating biofilm-forming staph colonizations that tend to develop in the nasal passages of patients with CIRS and correcting high/low metallopeptidase 9, antidiuretic hormone/osmolality, C4a, transforming growth factor beta 1, vascular endothelial growth factor, and vasoactive intestinal peptide.
In an ideal world, wed have CIRS-aware physicians in every city and town who could help patients with this recovery process. Unfortunately, that is not the case. There are currently only a few Dr. Shoemaker-certified practitioners, and perhaps several others who are not certified but are actively treating CIRS.
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?
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