How Do I Know If Mold Is Making Me Sick
The symptoms of mold sensitivity and mold toxicity can mimic other conditions. For this reason, its important that you see a doctor if you feel unwell so that they may provide an accurate assessment of your health.
However, if youre experiencing symptoms such as chronic fatigue, depression, difficulty concentrating, abdominal pain, muscle and joint pain, and headaches that cannot be attributed to another condition, you may be suffering from a mold illness.
What Are The Most Common Mold Toxicity Symptoms
In my experience, a wide array of symptoms can manifest if youve been exposed to mold spores. Symptoms will vary depending on how long someone has been in a moldy environment, what type of mold and mycotoxins are detected, as well as the overall health status of the individual, genetics and lifestyle factors.
Some patients ask me: What are the symptoms of toxic black mold exposure? and the truth is that symptoms vary because the variations of mold toxicity is extremely vast. That is why it is essential to work progressively and systematically with a health practitioner who can help you detox your body of the toxins, byproducts and address potential co-conditions.
Aspergilloma of the lung and close-up view of Aspergillus fungi, 3D illustration. Also known as mycetoma, or fungus ball, a lesion produced by fungi Aspergillus in immunocompromised patients
Common symptoms associated with toxic mold exposure include:
- Allergy-like symptoms
- Hair loss
Multiple studies demonstrated that long-term exposure could also lead to feelings of chronic fatigue, anxiety, depression, impaired memory, decreased libido, and stomach pains. Research shows that our neurological, respiratory, and immune systems are most affected by water damage and mold. A study published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology showed that mold exposure in early childhood led to an increase in asthma prevalence in children at the age of 7.
What To Do If Mold Is Gettin You Ill
If mold is causing your illness, the first thing you can do is reach out to your doctor about testing for mold exposure. A routine blood test will indicate whether you have antibodies that confirm an immune reaction to mold, and a urine test can be used to measure any mycotoxins in your system.
One test I use is the Cyrex Labs Array 12 Pathogen screen, which tests for antibodies to common mold species and other pathogens.
Ultimately, the most important factor in mold toxicity is the environment. If you dont remove your exposure to the mold, you cant beat it. No supplement is going to be able to counteract constant exposure.
Whether or not you are able to remove the exposure, its important to improve your immune tolerance and maintain the integrity of your pulmonary barrier. Vitamin A, antioxidants like acai and pomegranate extract, and glutathione or supplements that raise glutathione are all key parts of protecting yourself from barrier breakdown. Therapies like UBI + ozone and Neuromodulation Technique have proven to be very helpful for many people.
Another important aspect of strengthening your immune system is improving your microbiome diversity and strength. The microbiome is an important part of the immune system and the gut microbiome, often called the second brain, communicates with the microbiome of the lungs to help assure that the right kinds of organisms are present and that they are doing their job of defending the lungs.
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Did You Know Mold Can Impact Your Brain
We are now finding out how certain mycotoxins have the ability to impact the brain, causing neurotoxicity. A 2011 review in the Journal of Molecular Science examined specific mycotoxins, which are known to impact the brain. Symptoms of mold exposure include rage, anger, anxiety, and sudden deep dark depression.
There isnt one single cause of Alzheimers. This is why most AD treatments have been mostly unsuccessful, until now. There are multiple metabolic processes involved in AD and six subtypes.
Interestingly, subtype 3 is also called Inhalational Alzheimers Disease and caused by inhaled toxins which bioaccumulate overtime. We already know how dangerous mold can be, but the fact that we now know biotoxins can cause Alzheimers is reason for grave concern.
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 .
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How Do You Know Mold Is The Problem
Mold is everywhereespecially outside. But it starts to cause problems when indoor mold counts grow and are not eradicated or contained in the proper time .
Although there are several different mold tests out there , you dont necessarily need a test to spot mold.
You definitely know you have mold when you smell the musty odor or you see small black or white specks along your damp bathroom or basement walls. Some mold is hidden growing behind wall coverings, inside dry walls or ceiling tiles. Mold is often found in areas where water has damaged building materials and furniture from flooding, rain during the initial building or plumbing leaks. Mold can also be found growing along walls where warm moist air condenses on cooler wall surfaces, such as inside cold exterior walls, HVAC systems switching between hot and cold, underneath beads, behind dressers, headboards, and in closets where articles are stored against walls. Mold most often grows in rooms with both high water usage and humidity, such as kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and basements.
Nevertheless, mold can easily goes undetected, under the radar for years, if not the lifetime of a home, since most people experiencing health side effects from mold and environmental toxins dont initially suspect or think to assess for mold as a root cause behind headaches, IBS, hormone imbalances, brain fog, fatigue, and more.
Exhibit A: My recent mold illness .
Repair Leaky Gut With Colostrum
While improving ones diet and removing mycotoxins can reduce irritation to the gut, which contributes to increased intestinal permeability , I found that I needed additional support to repair the damage sustained by my digestive tract due to mold illness. The product I have found to be most effective for healing my gut is bovine colostrum. I have written an entire blog post on the myriad health benefits of bovine colostrum, one of which is its ability to repair damaged cells in the intestinal wall. Colostrum also contains a substance called lactoferrin, which is a potent natural antifungal, and antimicrobial peptides that target pathogenic microorganisms. These natural antifungal/antimicrobial substances may be useful for eliminating Candida overgrowth and other gut infections. I have personally found colostrum extremely useful for clearing up intestinal Candida, when used in conjunction with a low-mold diet and binders. For more information about the extensive health benefits of colostrum, check out my blog post Colostrum: An Ancestral Superfood for Modern Times.
I also take a broad-spectrum probiotic by Ultimate Flora, to replenish the beneficial bacteria in my gut. This has further improved my Candida situation. This brand of probiotic can be found in the refrigerated supplements section at most Whole Foods and other health food stores.
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Remove Sugar & Processed Grains
This should be a no-brainer by now: processed grains and sugar are highly inflammatory, and have no part of a healthy diet. Removing all sources will ensure your body has the opportunity to heal, as opposed to be constantly fighting the low levels of chronic inflammation caused by sugar and grains.
Opting for a high-fat and protein diet, void of refined sugars, helps control your blood sugar throughout the day which is associated with health and longevity, and supports cellular healing.
Common sources of sugar and processed grains to avoid include:
- Breakfast cereals
- Syrups and Sauces in general
Follow An Individualized Mold Treatment Plan From A Knowledgeable Practitioner
Most of conventionally trained medical practitioners have a narrow view on the effects of mold on the human body. Its important to work with an integrative practitioner familiar with the latest research regarding mycotoxins and mold.
While the exact components and duration each persons mold protocol can differ, here are some key possible steps for treatment:
- Use binders: These are used to bind up mycotoxins in the body. Cholestyramine, a prescription binder, may be used as well as natural binders such as charcoal.
- Address candida overgrowth: These could be yeast infections, thrush and digestive issues
- Treat colonized molds and bacterial infections: The gut, lungs and sinuses may be affected.
- Incorporate antifungals if needed.
- Support detoxification: This includes targeted supplements like glutathione to enhance detox pathways, ozone sauna and sweating through exercise as tolerated.
- Clean your air: Look for a high quality air purifier that utilizes HEPA, carbon, and zeolite filters. The Healthmate Plus from Austin Air does this and also filters VOCs.
- Clean your water: Stand alone filers like the countertop Berkey models or whole-house systems such as AquaTru can remove unwanted contaminants.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Toxic Mold Exposure
- Brain fog
- Rapid weight gain and/or difficulty losing weight
- Widespread muscle and joint pain
- Muscle loss, since mold toxins inhibit muscle protein synthesis
Mold toxins are very inflammatory, neurotoxic, and hormone-disrupting, so they can contribute to the following issues :
- Histamine problems, such as hives, anaphylactic shocks, and asthma.
- Respiratory symptoms, such as allergies and asthma.
- Chemical sensitivity and allergies. You may not be able to walk down the cleaning aisle in the grocery store without getting very sick.
- New food sensitivities and allergies that get worse over time.
- Mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression.
- Neurological conditions, such as tremors.
- Hormone-related conditions, such as thyroid issues, fibroids, infertility, and cancers.
- All kinds of atypical or mysterious conditions.
Keep in mind that symptoms of toxic mold exposure can vary from person to person, depending on the weak links in your body. About 40% of the population are genetically more susceptible to developing serious illnesses from mold exposure. Some of them have HLA-DR genes that are linked to mold illness, but Dr. Crista found that people with weak detox genes are also more susceptible , .
Remove Bad Fats From Your Diet
Fats are an essential part of a healthy diet, but depending on the quality, they can either be nourishing or highly inflammatory. Healthy fats are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, lower inflammation, help you detox, and heal your cells.
Unhealthy fats to avoid include:
- Factory farmed animal fats like tallow or lard.
- Farmed fish, or large wild fish like tuna, catfish, king mackerel, sea bass, and swordfish.
- Factory farmed animal dairy like milk, yogurt, cheese, cream, regular butter, and soy milk.
- Peanuts .
- Refined vegetable oils and processed synthetic spreads like safflower, soybean, sunflower, corn, and cottonseed oils, hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, margarine and shortening.
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Nonstick Cookware And Kitchenware
Yes, the non-stick factor makes cleaning up after dinner easier, but non-stick products contain perfluorooctanoic acid Aside from being possibly carcinogenic to humans, PFOA is also known to alter thyroid hormone levels, which can contribute to weight gain, Axe says.
What to do: Replace. Scrap your non-stick cookware for high-quality stainless steel or cast iron pots and pans.
Clean Black Mold And Get Rid Of It For Good
Once you know how bad your mold problem is , its time to get rid of the problem.
- Clean mold yourself. If your mold problem is small and visible, like caulking around your bathtub, you can get rid of it yourself. You just want to make sure you use the right cleaning solution. Bleach wont kill mold entirely, and as the chlorine in bleach dissipates, the bleach turns into water, which creates the perfect environment for new mold to grow. Cleaning vinegar will kill mold, as will industrial chemicals like Moldex. Always wear a P100 respirator so you dont inhale mold spores while you clean. Goggles are a good idea too, and a full body suit for larger mold infestations.
- Get rid of mold-contaminated items. Clothing, carpet, drapes, caulking, and paper goods like books and files will all absorb mold spores and can cause new mold growth. If theyve been in an area with black mold, get rid of them, or in the case of cloth goods, get them professionally dry-cleaned. Throwing out belongings is a bummer, but its better to be safe than to have to deal with a new mold problem all over again.
- Professional mold remediation. If you have water damage or major mold contamination in hard-to-reach places, hiring a professional is your best bet. Mold remediation can be expensive, but professionals have the tools to find and eliminate all the mold in your entire home.
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Strategies On How To Detox From Mold
Getting rid of mycotoxins from your body, after you have eliminated them from your environment is specific to the individual and you should consider the following
- optimizing your organs
- Air Filters will help with your mold removal protocol
Depending on the level of mycotoxins present plus your own body and its ability to tolerate treatment the best way is to use a combination of binders like clay, charcoal and other actions like a liver detox support like milk thistle and vitamin C.
Take Natural Detox Supplements
Natural detox supplements will prove to be just as useful in getting rid of your symptoms as man made medicines, but when you feel better- you can be sure that its because your body is actually healing.
My top three recommendations to heal from mold toxicity are:
- CGEL: increases the cells natural ability to undergo the natural mechanism of detox
- BIND: is a powerful binder that sweeps the body and effectively eliminates toxins from the blood
- CytoDetox: enters the cell membrane and act as a vehicle to getting rid of the toxins as we up-regulate cell function, and prevents reabsorption.
See the detox supplements Dr. Pompa recommends.
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Is Mold The Cause Of Your Fatigue
Are you suffering from unrelenting fatigue that doesnt seem to respond to any intervention? Perhaps youve asked your doctor to check your thyroid function and it came back normal. Perhaps youve been testing for iron-deficiency anemia this, too, was normal. Or perhaps youve been told by an integrative medical doctor that your adrenal function is suboptimal. Maybe what you havent thought of is the fact that you could be harboring hidden pathogens in your body that are robbing your energy and stealing your steam!
If basic testing fails to reveal a cause of your fatigue, you may want to have your doctor test for occult infection. More sophisticated investigations can reveal the presence of all kinds of pathogens capable of colonizing the body and evading the immune system. Some of them include: Parvoviruses, HHV6, Epstein-Barr, Cytomegalovirus, Mycoplasma, and Borrelia burgdorferi. Other patients have a history of chronic fungal infections or biotoxin exposure. A history of chronic mold exposure is a feasible explanation for such symptoms, as is the presence of B. burgdorferi.
This figure shows the role of viruses, bacteria, and chronic fungal and biotoxin exposure as the cause of intractable fatigue accompanied by cognitive and physical disability
Why is it that some patients who get an infection recover and have no fatigue and others may be colonized with pathogens and suffer from intractable lack of energy?
Foods To Avoid When Detoxing From Mold Exposure
Sugary, Starchy Foods
The best thing you can do to help your body detox from the mold is to keep your overall diet low in sugar and starches. Mold spores can utilize sugar and starch as fuel, so avoiding foods that contain these ingredients may prevent mold from spreading.1
Remember that sugar has many names. When reading food labels, look for words like glucose, sucrose, lactose, and fructose. While they are preferable to processed sugar, natural sugar sources like honey and maple syrup should also be avoided. Even fruits that are especially high in sugar, like bananas and grapes, should be eaten sparingly. Sugar substitutes like sorbitol are also a no-go when following a low mold diet.
Since most prepackaged foods contain added sweeteners, youll want to skip them in favor of whole foods when possible. Salad dressing, for example, can be a sneaky source of sugar, so consider whipping up a simple vinaigrette from scratch instead of buying the bottled kind.
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Sneezing And Nasal Congestion
While many things can trigger sneezing, its also a symptom of mold toxicity that should get your attention. If youve never had allergies or hay fever symptoms and youre positive you dont have a cold, those sneezes could be indicative of mold exposure.
Sneezing is the immune systems standard response to allergens. It could also be a warning sign that your home has a mold problem.