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.
How Do You Keep Mold Out Of Buildings And Homes
Inspect buildings for evidence of water damage and visible mold as part of routine building maintenance, Correct conditions causing mold growth to prevent mold growth.
Inside your home you can control mold growth by:
- Controlling humidity levels
- Promptly fixing leaky roofs, windows, and pipes
- Thoroughly cleaning and drying after flooding
- Ventilating shower, laundry, and cooking areas.
What Are Symptoms And Signs Of Mold Exposure
Molds produce irritating substances that may act as allergy-causing substances in sensitive individuals. Furthermore, some molds produce toxic substances known as mycotoxins, but mold itself is not poisonous or toxic. The term “toxic mold,” therefore, refers to the fact that certain kinds of mold can produce mycotoxins. The conditions under which some molds produce toxins are not understood, and the presence of mold, even a mold that is capable of producing toxins, does not always imply that toxins are being produced or that a health risk or problem is present. Mold may not cause any health problems, or it may lead to allergy or other symptoms in people, including adults and children, who are sensitive to molds.
Allergic reactions to mold are the most common health effects of mold and are therefore the greatest health risk related to mold. Allergic reactions may happen immediately or develop after a period following exposure. Both growing mold and mold spores may lead to allergic reactions. Symptoms and signs of mold allergy may include
Mold or mold spores may cause asthma attacks in people who have asthma and are allergic to mold. Even in some non-allergic individuals, mold can cause symptoms of irritation in the eyes, skin, and airways. For example, the “black mold”Stachybotrys, along with some other types of mold, produces toxins known as mycotoxins that can cause irritation of the skin and airways in susceptible individuals.
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Mold And Mycotoxin Testing Options
There are many different kinds of tests available, and they each have their own benefits and challenges.
Some tests look at levels of mold exposure or the burden of mycotoxins on the body, while others analyze how the immune system is reacting to mold and mycotoxins.
Research on all mold and mycotoxin testing is limited, and there is no perfect test . There are currently no FDA-approved laboratory tests for mycotoxins.
Keep in mind that two people may have similar levels of exposure to toxins but very different capacities to detoxify from them.
When selecting a test, ideally with the help of a practitioner, consider your main question. Is it Have I been exposed to mold? or is it How is my body handling a known mold exposure?
The Different Black Mold Tests
The first thing to do is verify that you have black mold. Symptoms of mold exposure are almost identical to other fatigue issues, like Lyme disease and chronic fatigue syndrome. And because mold can grow behind walls as a result of burst pipes or water damage, its often hard to pinpoint where mold is in your home.
If you can see black mold in the caulking around your bathtub or below your kitchen sink, for example and you have no reason to suspect its elsewhere in your house, you may be okay skipping a formal test. Otherwise, you have a few different options when it comes to testing for mold in your home:
- Mold culture test. This test includes a petri dish with a swab. You expose the petri dish to either the air or, through the swab, a specific area in your home, and then you cover it and let it sit for 48 hours. If you get lots of growth in the petri dish , you have a mold problem. If you get little to no growth, youre okay. Mold culture tests are fast and cheap . A mold culture test is a good option if you suspect mold in your workplace or school. The downside is that the test wont tell you where mold is only if mold is present. Heres a good mold culture test.
- ERMI test. Environmental relative moldiness index testing will tell you with much more specificity what mold is in your home and how big of a problem it is. ERMI tests will run you $200-$300.
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What Types Of Mold Cause Problems
Youve likely heard of black mold or Stachybotrys chartarum, which sometimes makes news headlines. It is greenish-black in color and well-known to contribute to mold-induced toxicity.
But black mold is far from the only mold that can harm your health. And Stachybotrys chartarum is not the only mold that can appear black.
Examples of other types of mold often found in toxic indoor environments include:
- Sleep: Insomnia, frequent waking during sleep, night sweats
- Urinary system: Increased urination, urgency, incontinence
- Weight: Appetite swings, weight gain or weight-loss resistance
Many of these symptoms could also be due to reasons other than mold toxicity and CIRS. Thats why mold illness is often overlooked or misdiagnosed. The specific effects depend on your bodys unique vulnerabilities.
Treatment For Mold Exposure:
The best treatment is to avoid places that trigger your allergic reactions. To put you at ease, your doctor may suggest the following:
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Who Can Test Me For Mold Illness
You may wonder how to get these tests done, and in this age of insurance-based medicine it can be a challenge. Apart from the nasal swab, the bloodwork may be handled by a cooperative primary care physician, or by going to a facility such as Any Lab Test, which will run them for you. The best route is to seek care from a knowledgeable ENT specialist, such as Dr. Dennis, or from a physician trained in Environmental Medicine. Go to American Academy of Environmental Medicine for a list of practitioners by state.
Essential Oils Extracts And Tinctures
So many herbs have antifungal properties. The active compounds are extracted from herbs, and the essential oils deliver concentrated amounts of beneficial compounds that will kill spores inside the body.
Oils are most commonly preserved as tinctures and taking 10 30 drops, 3 x a day for three months will guarantee results. If taking a powder form usually ½ to 1 teaspoon, mixed in a little warm water, can be considered daily, also for about 3 months.
Yes, you can also take the natural fresh herbs instead of the more potent oils, especially if you want to prevent rather than cure.
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Indoor Mold: 5 Symptoms Of Mold Exposure
Have you been wheezing lately, or getting out of breath just taking the stairs? Or maybe you feel like youre constantly battling a headache that just wont go away. Symptoms of mold exposure can be similar to those of infections or other conditions. So diagnosis and treatment takes longer than it should. But take heed. Those exposed to mold can be between 30-50% more likely to develop asthma. They also suffer from other respiratory problems and bronchitis.
How To Prevent Mold
Whether you just got rid of the mold or you dont ever want to see it in your house you need to know the mold prevention rules. To prevent mold from appearing in your house:
Small investments in prevention can go long waysand keep a lot of cash in your pocket!
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How To Prevent Black Mold From Growing
It hides in plain sight. Mold loves damp, humid conditions. It will thrive and multiply at a tremendous rate in perfect conditions. But when those conditions change the spores can stay dormant in arid conditions, for very long periods. This is when you may not know the mold is present. As soon as damp returns you will be able to see exactly where the mold is.
Start by inspecting your home. Look in the kitchen around the sink area, where the tiles meet the sink. Mold loves to grow under the silicone that seals the cracks between wall and sink. Over time water gets trapped behind the silicone and mold will appear.
Look in all your cupboards, in the dark corners, both bottom, and top. If a room is not well ventilated and the climate is humid, no doubt, mold will be growing.
Air ducts of aircon systems gather moisture and condensation, perfect breeding grounds for mold. Surfaces with a high cellulose content are also favored by mold colonies.
Check the bathrooms, around the sink and bath and in the shower. Check for mold and check for damp.
Prevention is always better than cure so if you find damp areas, a leaking tap or an outlet pipe, on the outside of the house, sort it out fast.
What Causes Black Mould
Stachybotrys chartarum is a greenish-black mold. It can grow in damp conditions and on material with a high cellulose content, such as fiberboard, gypsum board, and even paper. Growth also occurs when there is moisture from water damage, water leaks, condensation or flooding. Moisture is required for the growth of black mold.
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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.
Can I Get Tested For Mold Exposure In My Body
Mold lives in the atmosphere and can harm your health when you have a specific allergy. There are several types of mold commonly found in houses where moisture and warm temperatures collide. If you are worried about mold exposure, you need to make sure you have identified the signs and symptoms associated with mold exposure. Among the symptoms of mold exposure are:
- Itchy eyes
The problem many of you have when you are affected by mold exposure is the common nature of the symptoms. Mold exposure symptoms mimic those of the common cold and allergies to pet dander. Mold exposure symptoms are so common they can easily be confused with those of other medical conditions. If you feel you have been exposed to mold and want to receive a diagnosis, you need to undergo medical testing. If you are worried about mold exposure in your home, you should start with a talk to your doctor about your fears. When your doctor agrees there is a risk of mold exposure, you will usually undergo one of two tests:
- Blood test
- Skin prick test
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I Tested Positive For Mycotoxins Now What
Finding out that theres mold in your home or body can definitely be scaryand embarrassing, too. Fortunately, once you know that youre dealing with toxic mold exposure, you can take action:
If theres mycotoxins in your homeYoull need to consult with a professional mold remediation firm about eliminating the problem. Sometimes, when a mold issue is as simple as a small patch of gunk on a shower wall or a basement carpet that smells like dirt, its possible to clean the mess up on your own. However, large infestationsor infestations of highly dangerous molds, like Stachybotrys chartarum should only be handled by experts.
If theres mycotoxins in your bodyYou should see a physician right away. Explain your symptoms and bring a copy of your test results. Your doctor may want to give you another test to verify that yes, mycotoxins really are the source of your health issues.
Once you receive an official diagnosis, the doctor will be able to come up with an appropriate treatment plan. Meanwhile, it would be wise to have your home inspected for mold, as well, to stop the toxins at their source.
Symptoms Of Mold Exposure
Common symptoms of exposure include brain fog, depression, skin irritations/rashes, fatigue, joint pain, and inflammation to name a few.
If you have been suffering from a seemingly random array of symptoms that have no known cause, mold could be the answer. Because mold has the ability to affect the whole body with a broad range of symptoms, many individuals suffer for much longer than they should before receiving a diagnosis.
- Thyroid issues
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How Do Molds Affect People
Exposure to damp and moldy environments may cause a variety of health effects, or none at all. Some people are sensitive to molds. For these people, exposure to molds can lead to symptoms such as stuffy nose, wheezing, and red or itchy eyes, or skin. Some people, such as those with allergies to molds or with asthma, may have more intense reactions. Severe reactions may occur among workers exposed to large amounts of molds in occupational settings, such as farmers working around moldy hay. Severe reactions may include fever and shortness of breath.
In 2004 the Institute of Medicine found there was sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people with asthma symptoms in people with asthma and with hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals susceptible to that immune-mediated condition.
In 2009, the World Health Organization issued additional guidance, the WHO Guidelines for Indoor Air Quality: Dampness and Mould pdf iconexternal icon pdf icon. Other recent studies have suggested a potential link of early mold exposure to development of asthma in some children, particularly among children who may be genetically susceptible to asthma development, and that selected interventions that improve housing conditions can reduce morbidity from asthma and respiratory allergies.
Is There A Known Safe Level Of Mycotoxins
Unfortunately, the answer is no. The United States government has yet to establish maximum safe levels for mycotoxins in the air of buildings. In fact, the US has some of the worst standards for mycotoxins in the world.20 This is due to practices such as intentionally feeding animals moldy feed right before slaughter, disrupting their hormones so they gain more weight. Studies show that the United States also has the most severe mycotoxin problem of any country.
As a step in the right direction, however, some European countries have set maximum safe limits. Additionally, you can access worldwide data about mycotoxins in your region right on your phone.
Want more information on understanding the symptoms of mold exposure and mold hypersensitivity syndrome21?
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A Qualified Environmental Lab Took Samples Of The Mold In My Home And Gave Me The Results Can Cdc Interpret These Results
Standards for judging what is an acceptable, tolerable or normal quantity of mold have not been established. Sampling for mold can be expensive, and standards for judging what is and what is not an acceptable quantity of mold have not been set. The best practice is to remove the mold and work to prevent future growth. If you do decide to pay for environmental sampling for molds, before the work starts, you should ask the consultants who will do the work to establish criteria for interpreting the test results. They should tell you in advance what they will do or what recommendations they will make based on the sampling results. The results of samples taken in your unique situation cannot be interpreted without physical inspection of the contaminated area or without considering the buildings characteristics and the factors that led to the present condition.