Mold. You may not be able to see or smell it, yet it may be growing in your home and the reason you feel sick. Mold poisoning may be impacting your health. How do you know? In this blog, I want to cover mold illness and who is susceptible. In future blogs, I’ll cover what to do about it.
Most likely your regular doctor won’t be much help. Conventional medicine doesn’t really believe that mold exposure is a problem. Plus it can be difficult to diagnose someone with mold toxicity; it can mimic many other conditions and symptoms are nonspecific.
Symptoms of Mold Illness
– Weakness, fatigue, and post-exercise malaise
– Memory problems, trouble with focus and executive function, brain fog
– Joint pain without inflammatory arthritis, muscle cramping, aches and pains, persistent nerve pain, “ice pick” pain
– Numbness and tingling
– Red eyes, and/or blurred vision, light sensitivity
– Sinus problems, shortness of breath, cough, air hunger, asthma-like symptoms
– Nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, appetite changes
– Persistent nerve pain
– Metallic taste
– Night sweats or other problems connected to temperature regulation
– Weight gain regardless of the sufficient effort (weight loss resistance)
– Excessive thirst
– Static “shocks”
– Increased urination
You can now see how mold toxicity can be easily mistaken with some other condition. However, thirty years of solid scientific evidence shows the severe health issue that mold can cause. Molds are a a combination of numerous types of fungi that grow in filaments and reproduce by creating tiny spores that sprout and fly away, and cannot be spotted by the naked eye.
Mold thrives in warm, damp, and humid places. Hence, it may also appear, for instance, in places such as Nevada and Arizona, in places with poor ventilation, or areas prone to floods or water leakages.
Therefore, it often appears in the bathroom, on the shower head, in poorly ventilated rooms, and it can attach to the furniture, your books, pets, shoes, carpets, and papers. Mold can also circulate in the air system, so it is advisable to change your HVAC filters on every three months.
- Water-damaged places create a mixture of contaminants which are present in the air and dust, resulting into a toxic chemical stew. It produces toxic chemicals named mycotoxins that appear in the spores and fragments of mold into the air.
No toxin from the mold is responsible for all mold illnesses, but the cause is the water-damaged area itself. A recent review connected sinuses as a common source of ongoing mold illnesses.
Why is mold a problem?
Toxicity caused by mold falls under the greater category of biotoxin illnesses which are familiar by the name Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome, or CIRS. According to the author of Life in the Era of Dangerous Buildings, Ritchie Shoemaker, MD, CIRS is a chronic and acute, systematic inflammatory response which is gained through the exposure of water-damaged buildings that have resident toxigenic organisms that include fungi, bacteria, actinomycetes, mycobacterium, and inflammagens. 24% of people are unable to create adequate antibody response and those are that comprise 95% of people that have illnesses which contribute from water-damaged buildings.
Why Some People Are Susceptible?
As Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker explains, 24% of people are genetically vulnerable to mold poisoning and these possess the Human Leukocyte Antigen – antigen D Related (HLA-DR). People with mold susceptibility genes have higher chances to have an adverse reaction to mold, upon exposure to sufficient amounts. Actually, 95% of mold poisoning appear in this subgroup. Moreover, 2% are especially susceptible with “quicker sicker” genes variation. The chances of those who aren’t susceptible are lower but not zero.
Those who are genetically susceptible to mold can’t recognize specific toxins as toxins, like mold, which gets recirculated in their bodies. This will lead to a persistent inflammatory response triggered by the toxins/mold. Majority of these people aren’t even aware that they have a genetic mold susceptibility.
Water-damaged buildings cause mold illness which is a severe health issue and not an allergy, but a chronic inflammation provoked by a disordered immune system. The CIRS won’t subside, heal on its own, and will proceed to cause illness if not properly treated. Once the illness, sustained in their DNA, is triggered, the inflammation and resulting symptoms might last for years.
To make a diagnosis of CIRS, experts have agreed that you need to meet the following criteria.5
– History, signs, and symptoms consistent with biotoxin exposure. In cases of mold toxicity, history should include exposure to toxin-producing molds as documented by the EPA-approved ERMI test. In other cases (microcystin, ciguatera, etc.), history should include likely exposure or laboratory evidence of exposure.
– A genetic predisposition to biotoxin-related illness based on identification of an HLA susceptible haplotype.
– Abnormalities documented by Visual Contrast Sensitivity (VCS) testing.
– Biomarkers consistent with the neuroimmune, vascular, and endocrine abnormalities that characterize CIRS. If you have a history consistent with biotoxin exposure, a susceptible genotype, and an abnormal VCS test, you are very likely to show the laboratory abnormalities seen in CIRS. Major and minor criteria are a work in progress.
What to Do Next
If you suspect you may have a problem with mold, I suggest the following steps.
Step 1. Start to learn about mold illness. Start with Dr. Shoemaker’s excellent website and book, Surviving Mold.
Step 2. Test your home for mold. One of the best tests is called an ERMI, and I suggest that you hire an environmental professional to perform a visual inspection of your home and sample several rooms. You can perform an ERMI on your own at a lower price (about $325) but it’s only helpful if it’s positive, in which case you’ll need to hire an environmental professional. So I suggest skip the self-testing.
Step 3. Work with a clinician trained in the Shoemaker Protocol.