Is Mold Exposure Making You Sick?
Wondering if mold exposure might be contributing to your symptoms? 1 in 5 people have genes that cause their body to fail to properly identify and excrete mycotoxins (the toxic byproduct of mold growth). Those people can get very sick from mold exposure when other people (even family members) would not show symptoms.
The most common types of household mold found are Cladosporium, Penicillium, Alternaria, and Aspergillus. Stachybotrys chartarum (often referred to as “black mold”) is a greenish-black mold found indoors, although it is less common than the other types of mold found in homes. Molds grow on surfaces with high cellulose content such as wood, fiberboard, paper, dust, lint, food, carpet, and gypsum board. Mold also needs exposure to high humidity or other sources of moisture to thrive.
My Mold Journey
I happen to have those unlucky genes and discovered last year that I had very high levels of mycotoxins in my system. I have lived in moldy places since childhood and the cumulative effect was a suppressed immune system and the onset of several autoimmune conditions. Mold can be at the root of a number of other chronic infections that result from your total toxic load being more than your body can handle. It happens over time and the symptoms are often vague and confused for other conditions.
I had frequent sinus infections and facial numbness. I became very sensitive to light, histamine-intolerant (terrible allergies and chemical sensitivities), experienced swelling in my extremities and unexpectedly gained 15 pounds despite no change in diet or activity level. This is common in mold illness as our bodies will store mycotoxins in fat cells in an effort to protect our vital organs. If you cannot lose weight or notice more cellulite and you’ve ruled out thyroid or cortisol issues, you can bet it’s a toxicity reaction. It’s often my first clue in my patients that we need to look at mold.
Signs and Symptoms of Mold Exposure
The following is a list of symptoms that may be caused by exposure to mold:
- chronic rhinitis or sinusitis
- frequent respiratory infections
- night sweating
- vivid dreaming/nightmares
- light sensitivity
- eye irritation: watering, redness, itching, blurred vision
- numbness or tingling in face or limbs
- migraines, headaches
- hormonal imbalance
- pain that moves around
- sore throat
- rashes, skin irritation
- fatigue, lethargy
- mood swings
- fast heartbeat, arrhythmias
- memory loss
- unexplained weight gain
- difficulty concentrating
From Amen Clinics: In a 2003 study by the Environmental Health Center-Dallas, 100 participants were examined in an effort to uncover how toxic mold exposure can affect the brain and lead to cognitive and emotional impairments. After the mold exposure, nervous system challenges were observed in all 100 patients. Brain SPECT imaging scans also identified abnormalities in a significant portion of the patients studied.
Conditions Worsened by Mold Exposure
- seasonal allergies
- chronic fatigue syndrome
- bipolar disorder
- histamine sensitivity
- chemical sensitivity
Diagnosing and Treating Mold Exposure
To diagnose, I use a urine sample test that identifies DNA from a variety of different mycotoxins to gauge your toxicity level. We can also do genetic testing to see if you have mold susceptibility genes. I will then guide you to collect dust samples from your home and office to locate if there’s a current source of exposure. Treatment involves avoidance and a number of steps to support your body in excreting mycotoxins.
If you suspect mold illness or want to pursue testing or treatment, this has become an area in which I’m (unfortunately) very well versed. Feel free to book online for telemedicine consultations or in-person appointments.