What you need to know about mold and its impact on your health
Have you been feeling more tired lately? Finding difficulty in memory, focus, and concentration? Or maybe even experiencing dizziness when standing up?
If you answered yes to these questions, there’s a chance that you’re suffering from chronic fatigue caused by exposure to toxic mold. And, Spring is known as one of the worst seasons for mold growth, especially if you live in a region with heavy rain and high water levels.
In this blog, we’ll explore the symptoms of toxic mold exposure, and what you can do about it.
Toxic mold exposure 101:
Though oft-forgotten, mold is an invisible epidemic that is making many of us very ill. Most buildings today are constructed in ways that promote the growth of mold. Many homes and businesses are energy-efficient buildings that use materials on which mold can easily thrive, like drywall, wood, and carpet. When you add moisture and poor ventilation, it creates the perfect environment for mold to flourish. A large study found that over 50% of homes in the US reported dampness and mold. It is very likely that your home is infested with mold in the walls or under the floors where you cannot see it.
Mold produces chemicals called mycotoxins and microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOC’s). While MVOCs are responsible for the musty odor many of us associate with mold, mycotoxins produced by mold can also be present when there is no smell. Mycotoxins are actually poisonous enough to be made into chemical weapons. Fun fact, weaponized mold toxins are created and stored by militaries around the world.
Both mycotoxins and MVOC's can cause detrimental effects at very low doses. You may begin to feel the effects of mold toxicity after living in a mold-infested house after only several days. This is especially true if you are part of the 25% of the population with the genes to develop Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS) from mold exposure.
Chronic inflammatory response syndrome occurs when your immune system is unable to remove biotoxins from your body. You also don’t necessarily have to have the genetic predisposition to develop CIRS from mold exposure. When your body is unable to remove the biotoxins, the receptors that recognize the toxins will keep telling your body over and over that there is a threat. It’s like pushing down on an emergency stop button with no let-up. This will cause a continued production of cytokines and eventually cause the immune system to attack other tissues of the body. This will cause inflammation. To make matters even worse, too many cytokines can also impact hormone production and regulation throughout the body. In summary, mold exposure if you’re susceptible to CIRS can make you very, very ill.
Currently, few traditional health care providers are familiar enough with toxic mold exposure to diagnose it. This can lead to the misdiagnosis of toxic mold exposure for conditions like IBS, chemical sensitivity, and fibromyalgia. These misdiagnoses will lead to no solution and the worsening of overall health.
Symptoms of toxic mold exposure:
No two patients have the exact same symptoms of mold exposure. As, the longevity of exposure, inflammatory response, and immune system strength can all impact your symptoms. However, the symptoms listed below are the ones most commonly associated with mold exposure:
Vertigo or lightheadedness
Shortness of breath
Muscle aches or cramps
Increased thirst or urination
Trouble losing weight
Burning or tearing eyes
Brain fog or difficulty concentrating
Mold can cause such widespread symptoms because of the widespread effects of mold toxins throughout the body:
They have been found to break down the fatty covers that insulate neurons, myelin. This prevents the brain from sending information throughout the brain.
How to know if you’re suffering from toxic mold exposure:
The best way to know if your body has been exposed to toxic mold is through the organic acids test (OAT). An organic acids test is a urine test that has many markers to indicate mold exposure, digestive mold overgrowth, and potential toxicity caused by mycotoxins.
An OAT will also be able to determine the health of your mitochondria, which could be impacted by mold exposure. Once these results have been examined by your functional health practitioner, they can create a personalized treatment plan for you.
In the meantime…
If the above symptoms sound very familiar and you’re waiting for the results of an organic acids test, here are some steps you can take to help your body heal in the meantime:
Follow a low-inflammatory diet → If you’re suffering from mold exposure, following a low-inflammatory diet will help to reduce the widespread inflammation throughout your body. Avoid refined carbohydrates, fried food, soda, red meat, processed meat, and margarine. Instead, fill your diet with:
Green leafy vegetables
Work on destressing → Dealing with mold exposure can be very overwhelming and it is totally natural for you to feel stressed out. However, it is especially important that you work to destress and squeeze in some time for relaxation. Here are some of the best ways to diminish your stress response:
Meditation and breathing exercises
Touching your lips (to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system)
Avoid other sources of mold → Thanks to RoundUp, glyphosate, and other herbicides, we’ve successfully created a very aggressive mold that can survive both pesticide spray and anti-fungal treatment. This mold can obviously enter our food through the growing and production process. Moreover, the US has the worst federal mold and mycotoxin standards and regulations in the world- meaning that many of the foods we eat are already contaminated with mold. Specifically, here are some of the foods with the highest likelihood of containing mold:
Grains (pasta & bread)
Processed foods and meat
Consult your physician before attempting to handle mold removal on your own → This advice comes straight from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. If you try to remove the mold on your own, it will further expose you to the mold and potentially make your condition even worse. Instead, consider contacting a free in-home consultation with a mold removal expert who will make sure you’ve located all the regions containing mold, explain what work needs to be done, and advice you on safety precautions you can take throughout the cleanup process. Click here to see experienced professionals offering free consultations in your area.
If you think you’re suffering from toxic mold exposure, take a deep breath (hopefully away from the mold) and know that your symptoms don’t have to last forever. Dr. Johnson has worked with many patients to help them recover from their mold toxicity and return to optimal health.
For more information about toxic mold or the organic acids test, click here to contact us, or call 276-235-3205 to schedule your complimentary discovery call with Dr. Johnson.
The Johnson Center for Health services patients in-person in our Blacksburg and Virginia Beach / Norfolk locations. We also offer telemedicine for residents of Virginia and North Carolina!