Mold is a ubiquitous fungus that can be found almost anywhere on the planet, indoors and outdoors. In general, normal amounts of mold in the environment won’t put your health at risk. However, an overgrowth of mold in your house or place of work can negatively impact your health levels and cause a wide range of symptoms.
If you’ve been experiencing any persistent symptoms like fatigue, brain fog, wheezing, itchy skin or nose stuffiness, you should definitely check for mold. You may be one of the many people unknowingly suffering from toxic mold.
In this article, I’ll cover all the mold toxicity symptoms, what type of mold is your enemy and where to search for it, the best treatment options, and how to control mold growth in the home.
Mold toxicity is also known as mold poisoning or mycotoxicosis.
Mycotoxicosis is a process when under specific conditions of warmth and high moisture, molds produce mycotoxins that can affect your body and lead to inflammatory immune responses and bothersome symptoms. The most common mold toxicity symptoms:
Some people are more sensitive to mold exposure and at higher risk of the symptoms of mold poisoning:
Also, people with the following health conditions can suffer from severe symptoms:
Mold and mildew are two fungi that can invade your house, however, there is a big difference between them.
Mildew is less troublesome and can be easily removed. Usually, you can find it in the corner of a shower or on the bathroom tile and clean it with the help of bleach or vinegar.
Mold is the real evil, which is harder to detect and to fight, it can be in your house for years causing health problems. It has a musty odor and can grow in different colors, from red to green and may look like dirt, which you may ignore at first. If not to detect the mold growth on its early stage, cleaning the house out from these fungi could be challenging and you might need the help of professionals.
There are over 1000 mold species but some mold is more common to be found in a home or other indoor environment. You can encounter molds with different characteristics, hiding inside upholstery, near condensation-laden pipes, under insulation, and behind wallpaper, but let’s focus on the most common unwanted guests.
There are six main indoor molds that can wreak havoc on your health:
“Is my house making me sick?” - a question that bothers many people with respiratory problems, allergies, rashes, fatigue and brain fog, and other symptoms of mold sickness. If you suspect that your home environment is the reason for your health problems, it is high time to check your home for mold.
Check out basements wall, laundry rooms, air conditioning systems, bathroom, underneath the sinks, windowsills, closets, refrigerator door seals and drain pans, and closets. Search not only for black or green patches but do the sniff test. The musty smell will help you detect the source of mold growth.
Look for causes of mold growth, such as broken pipes, a leak, past flooding, lack of ventilation, old food or wood furniture. Knowing the cause of possible mold growth will help detect this insidious intruder faster.
Don’t ignore your symptoms. If you start coughing, sneezing, or wheezing when you enter the room, it could be caused by spores or mycotoxins produced by mold.
As soon as you have detected the mold, get rid of it. Don’t postpone it till its too late, especially if you’ve managed to detect the toxic mold like Stachybotrys. Long exposure to toxic mold can cause life-threatening symptoms.
Situation 1 - When Mold is Successfully Detected
If you have found mold, you may not waste time on testing but move to the removal stage.
Situation 2 - When Mold is Invisible
When you cannot find the mold but the smell is present, this is a case when testing is needed. Specific tests and assistance of professionals will eliminate the guesswork and help prevent health issues.
Air sampling assesses the concentration of mold spores in the air inside your home. The samples are taken from the air and carefully examined in the lab. The results will tell you whether the mold is the underlying cause of polluted indoor air and respiratory problems.
Another way to detect mold is surface testing. It works simple, by swabbing and tape lifting you take samples from household surfaces for further examination in the lab.
For reliable results, don’t ignore organic surfaces like paper or wood paneling. Although this test won’t identify the spore concentration in the air, it will let you know the amount of mold growth spread around your home.
Note: The results of air and surface tests can vary because the amount of mold spores in the air and on the surface can change drastically at different times.
Bulk testing is about measuring a concentration of mold particles in your home. You just have to collect pieces of material from the home and bring them to a laboratory.
Small pieces of carpet, drywall, wallpaper, and wood are the best samples for mold testing.
The Environmental Relative Moldiness Index (ERMI) test is another option to assess "moldiness" in your house. It is just a single sample of dust from a home, however, this testing has certain advantages.
To sum up, this test is a great tool that will give you a better picture of how moldy your house is.
All you need to remove mold:
Note: When cleaning the mold on your own, it's important to use mask, gloves, and goggles for your safety.
Not always you can fight the mold with the help of bleach and soap. Here are the main situations:
If you are experiencing symptoms of mold toxicity and would like to know for sure whether the possible mold exposure has affected your health, there are several tests that could be performed.
This test helps measure lung function A decreased capacity of the lung function is one of the signs of asthma and mold poisoning.
A blood test, known as a radioallergosorbent test, is used to measure the amount of immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies. In simple words, this test helps detect sensitivity to specific types of mold.
VCS test is not a diagnostic method, though it helps measure your ability to see details at low contrast, detect a contrast sensitivity deficit and the existence of other health-affecting processes.
Certain types of mold and mycotoxins can lead to a contrast sensitivity deficit. Therefore, positive results of the VCS test can be proof of possible exposure to mold.
Note: The VCS test is absolutely free, however, if you want a detailed report and interpretation of the results, you can give a small donation.
Severe symptoms usually occur as a result of inhalation exposure or direct contact to mycotoxins and mycotoxin-containing molds. The MycoTOX is the most comprehensive mycotoxin test that will help you identify fungal toxins and treat mold poisoning.
Unlike the spirometric test, skin prick test and blood test, mycotoxin testing provides clear answers and aids in diagnosing. It is also useful to do mycotoxin testing to make sure that detoxification therapy has been successful and recovery mold poisoning is going well.
MycoTOX can detect exposure to the following types of mold:
MycoTOX measures eleven different mycotoxins:
For the MycoTOX testing, all you have to do is to get 10 mL of the first-morning urine. Don’t eat or drink anything before getting the urine sample. Fasting for 12 hours is recommended for increased excretion of mycotoxins.
It happens quite often, that the entire family is experiencing recovery from mold toxicity, except for one person. Why is it so?
The reason for your difficulty recovering from mold poisoning can be your genes, in particular, the HLA-DR gene. This gene lets mold toxins enter the brain, and start to slowly destroy neurons and disrupt hormone production.
Due to the neuronal loss and hormonal imbalances caused by the HLA-DR gene, the person usually has mold toxicity symptoms longer and it takes time to restore health. In some cases, full recovery never comes.
Moreover, carriers of the HLA-DR gene are more susceptible to other chronic diseases, including:
If the mold was removed, and you don’t feel better, HLA-DR testing is a must to prevent further complications and the development of life-threatening diseases.
Finally, the HLA-DR gene isn't a death penalty, there is a way to control it. If the test results are positive, these are the two steps you have to take to better health:
Managing stress with yoga or meditation, minimum of 7 hours of sleep, high-intensity training for sweating and better excretion of toxins.
Anty-fungal diet and supplementation to augment the detoxification system.
If you need assistance in fighting mold toxicity and its symptoms, controlling your genes, improving your diet and lifestyle choices, you are welcome to schedule a consultation with me.
Spores are always floating in the air and it is extremely hard to prevent mold growth, yet it is possible to reduce the risks. Here are some tips on how to control moisture and keep your home free from mold and mildew.
If you have the symptoms of mold toxicity and you need help with a treatment plan to help eliminate the mold and regain your health - schedule a consultation.
Michael is head consultant at Planet Naturopath - Functional Medicine and Nutrition Solutions. As Seen