Symptoms of mold sickness and how to know if mold is making you sick
I had serious resistance to addressing mold. I grew up with grandparents that would see mold on food, shrug, cut that piece off, and keep eating.
I've never liked the idea of being afraid of my natural environment, so I couldn't understand why mold could be a real factor. In my early 20's I had a leak in my car that made my floor mats musty with mold 6+ months of the year, since I parked it outside in the Portland rain. I mopped it up and kept moving.
Then I had a leaky window in my office behind my desk at work that made the whole place stink, and could never get the building maintenance guy to follow through on fixing the window. I hit the carpets with Febreze (#facepalm) and went about my day.
By the time I finally addressed the mold in my office, I was deep into a health crash and experiencing most of the symptoms below.
Turns out, it's a huge deal.
By the end of this post, you'll understand more about modern mold, why it's more prevalent and more toxic today than ever before, and how it could be contributing to your gut symptoms and chronic issues.
Mold becomes 600 times more toxic in the presence of RF (wifi, cellphones, smart devices, etc.), so our mold today is not your grandma's mold.
You may think that older homes are more prone to leaks and water damage, but they are not the only potential areas of concern. Just because a house is newer, doesn't make it safer. Modern construction has become more air tight to keep energy costs down, leaving less room for natural airflow. Also consider leaky cars (like mine), anywhere that water leaks may be causing hidden damage and creating the perfect environment for little buggies to take off. Florida and Hawaii, you're cute but I've got my eye on you.
Over and over again, people come to us with a diagnosis that does not include any awareness of toxic exposure, including mold. Or they have no diagnosis, and mold ends up being a factor that has to be addressed along their healing path.
It's heartbreaking to hear about their search for answers, and we can totally relate. Read this closely! I hope it can shed some light on your own health exploration.
If you're working on chronic health issues, it can be extremely helpful to learn about mold and assess with your practitioner if this is a contributing factor.
MOLD SETS UP SHOP ON THE INSIDE
It's not just about exposure to mold in the moment. Mold can colonize inside of you and continue to produce mycotoxins long after your original exposure (think years, even decades).
Mold affects mitochondria and creates a low oxygen environment in the body, down regulating the liver and immune function and our natural ability to detoxify.
Because of this, there are many, many different symptoms that can show up as a result of mold illness, and your mold symptoms may look very different from someone else's mold symptoms, even if you're living in the same house.
There's also an important genetic component to consider: about 1/4 of the population has the HLA-DR (human leukocyte antigen) which makes it difficult to process and excrete mold and its mycotoxins.(8)
This can help explain why 1 family member is completely flattened by water damage in the home, while the others have some or no symptoms at all.
But you don't have to have this gene to be affected by mold. The bigger the exposure, and the more toxic and sluggish your body is already, the easier it is for mold to set up shop.
There are also many different types of mold that have varying levels of toxicity, quickly mentioned here, but those details are beyond the scope of this article.
(Example types of mold often found in toxic indoor environments include: Aspergillus, Chaetomium, Cladosporium, Fusarium, Mucor, Penicillium, Rhizopus, Wallemia) (1)
Fatigue, Gut issues, and Brain fog, oh my!
Sensitivities to food, chemicals, odors, light, sound (part of the chronic inflammatory response syndrome(3)
- Neurological dysregulation - brain fog, memory loss, headaches, sensitivity to stimulation, overwhelm, difficulty concentrating, learning struggles(4)
- Emotional challenges, including anxiety, depression, mood swings, irritability
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome This study showed mycotoxins present in 93% of CFS patients, and over 90% of them had prior exposure to water damaged buildings. This should be front page headlines in the chronic illness world!(7)
- Achiness in joints, and muscles, morning stiffness (see the crossover with Fybromyalgia here?)
- Increased inflammation(1,4)
- Lack of ability to sweat
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Sluggish bile: mold will slow down your liver, big time. This can cause a variety of digestive symptoms.
- Skin issues: various rashes, flare ups, and dryness
- Weight gain or inability to lose weight. Mold is lypophilic (loves fat) and it interrupts the leptin response, which makes it harder to know when you're actually satiated.
- Candida: while candida has its own toxic drivers like high-sugar processed foods, mercury, and radiation exposure, it's very similar to mold. Where Candida overgrowth thrives, mold can too, and vice versa.
- Lung issues, including asthma, shortness of breath, chest tightness, cough and sore throat(4)
- Sinus issues, including chronic runny nose or congestion, sneezing
- Immunity issues, frequent flu like symptoms, easily taken down by the latest bug going around(4)
- Mold sensitivity: you can tell if a fridge has something moldy in it without looking. Sometimes you can even walk into a house and know immediately if mold is present.(4)
- Eye issues: easily irritated or itchy eyes, blurred vision, sensitivity to light
Treat your home AND yourself.
If you suspect mold or if you know you've been exposed to mold in your home...
... Take the Mycotoxin test from Great Plains Labs. This can be super helpful info to take to your healthcare professional.
... Find a local mold mitigation specialist!! Don't assume you can see the extent of the damage without professional assessment and support. For your health and safety, please get multiple assessments before committing to one approach.
... Add leak detectors like these under every faucet and in the laundry room to prevent future issues.
MOLD CLEAN UP TIPS
Any porous materials need to be treated or removed. Don't cut corners. Vinegar water is a good non toxic cleaner for some surfaces. Mold enzyme sprays can help but honestly, the more you can let go of, the safer you'll be and the easier it will be to recover your health.
Ozonate your laundry. Linens and clothes may be saved if they're ozonated. Upholstered furniture? Not so much. Ask your mold mitigation specialist for help assessing your bigger ticket items.
Use a bee propolis vaporizor in the rooms that have been affected.
For future support, Spider plants will help to capture mycotoxins (VOCs) released by mold. But you'll need a lot of them. And don't overwater!
MOLD DETOX TIPS
Internal support is critical.
BioToxin binder: this is a must for mopping up mycotoxins in the gut.
Supplement with Brocelite.
TUDCA: get your bile moving again, because mold exposure leads to sluggish bile.
CT Minerals and MitoATP: these tinctures will boost your energy at the cellular level and help prepare your cells for detox, and help you avoid "detox flu" symptoms, or Herxheimer reactions, while you detox
Infrared sauna: helps regain your ability to sweat, which mold can compromise, leading to further back up of toxins and other health issues. Start slow, even 5-10 minutes at a time, and work your way up to a full session over time. Do not push yourself. The body needs time to retrain itself to sweat. (Mold destroys mitochondria, and mitochondrial dysfunction in the skin and the interstitium below the skin shuts down your ability to sweat.)
Ozone therapy: 10 pass ozone in a clinic, or home kits.
Coffee enemas: the palmitic acid crystals in coffee help stimulate the liver to dump more toxins, and encourage an increase in glutathione production by 600% for several hours after each enema.
1. Because mold can colonize in the body after short term exposure, you can still be suffering from mold illness long after the initial exposure.
2. Mold suppresses the immune system, leaving the door open for other microbes and pathogens to set up shop.
3. When it comes to mold, you have to address both your external environment and your internal terrain.
4. If you suspect mold exposure, test yourself! The Mycotoxin panel from Great Plains Labs is a good place to start.
5. If you have been exposed to mold, don't wait to get started! There are so many things you can do to support your body through this process, so that you can finally get relief.
We’re on your side. Come hang out with us on Instagram for inspiration along the way, and a regular reminder that you are never alone on your healing journey.
All our love,
Sinclair and Michael
If you're ready to prioritize your health and make major progress, sign up for a toxicity assessment to get help understanding your next steps.
(2) Dr. Niel Nathan's book Toxic has a great chapter on mold.