What is a Mold Illness and How to Know If You Have It
Although sometimes mold can’t be seen or smelled, it can still be growing inside your home making you feel sick. Your health might be affected by mold poisoning, but how to know that?
In this post, we are going to discuss the mold illness and those susceptible to it. In a future post, we will tell you what to do about it.
Your doctor won’t probably help you a lot when it comes to mold illness, as conventional medicine doesn’t consider exposure to mold as a potential problem. Moreover, it can be really hard to give someone a mold poisoning diagnosis, since it can mimic other conditions, and its symptoms are not specific.
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 for some other condition. However, thirty years of solid scientific evidence shows the severe health issue that mold can cause.
The Low-down on Mold
Molds are several fungi types that grow in filaments and form tiny spores in their reproduction which sprout and fly away, of course, invisible to our eye. It appears in warm, damp, and humid places, outside and inside. Dry locations like Nevada or Arizona can as well have a problem with mold if there are poorly ventilated bathrooms, water leaks, or floods.
It can appear in your bathroom, in the corner near the shower, or in the showerhead, especially if there is no proper ventilation. Mold can attach to your pet, carpet, shoes, clothes, books, furniture, and papers. It can even circulate in your air system, particularly in those where filters are rarely changed. (HVAC filters are recommended to be changed every 1 to 3 months).
Water-damaged buildings in general, cause a formation of a complex mixture of contaminants in the dust and air, leading to a toxic chemical stew. Furthermore, the toxic chemicals known as mycotoxins are produced by mold, and these are present on mold fragments and spores released into the air. However, there’s not a single toxin which can be the all-cause of mold illness. Instead, try thinking that the water-damaged building or area is the main cause. New research related sinuses as a typical source of ongoing mold disease.
In America, half of the buildings are water damaged, leading to mold growth and the potential for this illness in susceptible people. As most of us probably spend most of our time indoors, in our home or workplace, we have good chances to be exposed to water damage and mold. The mold problem is even included in the reports of houses for sale, so it clearly isn’t a good thing.
Then, how is mold a problem? Mold poisoning is part of Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS), also known as a larger category of biotoxin illness. The mold expert and author of “Surviving Mold: Life in the Era of Dangerous Buildings” and 7 other books on mold, Ritchie Shoemaker, MD, defines Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome as an acute and chronic, systematic reaction to inflammation acquired from exposure to the water-damaged building interior with resident toxigenic organisms, like bacteria, fungi, mycobacterium, actinomycetes, inflammations, etc.
You are probably shocked by this mold definition, but the mold expert continues to explain that 24% of the population is not able to create antibody responses, and these people take 95% of those who have an illness developed from a water-damaged building. So, we will proceed by explaining the DNA role in making people more or less susceptible to this illness.
Why Are Some People 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 to “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. The 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.
According to experts, one should meet the next criteria to be diagnosed with CIRS:
- History, symptoms, and signs are consistent with exposure to biotoxins. History should contain toxin-producing molds exposure as documented by the EPA-approved Environmental Relative Moldiness Index (ERMI) test. In different cases like ciguatera, microcystin, etc. history should contain laboratory evidence of exposure or likely exposure.
- A genetic predisposition to an illness related to biotoxins, based on an HLA susceptible haplotype identification.
- Documented abnormalities from Visual Contrast Sensitivity (VCS) testing.
- Biomarkers are consistent with the endocrine, vascular, and neuroimmune abnormalities which characterize the Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome. Those with a history consistent with an abnormal VCS test, a susceptible genotype, and biotoxin exposure have higher chances to show the laboratory abnormalities seen in Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome. Further criteria are still being investigated.
The following steps are recommended to those who suspect to have a mold problem.
1st Step. Begin learning more about mold illness, like reading Dr. Shoemaker’s great book “Surviving Mold” as well as his website.
2nd Step. Test mold presence in your home. You can use the great ERMI test and call an environmental professional to do a visual inspection of your house and sample a few rooms. You can as well do this ERMI testing on your own which will cost you a bit less (about $325). However, it will help you only if it’s positive, and then you should again call an environmental professional, which is why the best way is to avoid this self-testing.
3rd Step. Find a clinical trained in Dr. Shoemaker’s Protocol here. You can take into consideration the genetic mold susceptibility test done by Labcorp, panel # 167120.