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How to Check for and Eliminate Mold Intoxication

Also read: How To Clean Your House From Mold?

The story of recognizing chronic mold mycotoxin intoxication is reminiscent of the story of recognizing chronic Lyme disease.

Before 2005, that is, before Hurricane Katrina, only a few specialists discussed this issue, and tests could only be conducted in non-standard testing laboratories. Patients went from one doctor to another, complaining of strange symptoms. They underwent standard laboratory tests, found nothing, and as usual, heard the phrase: “It’s all in your head.” After seeing an average of over 30 specialists, patients managed to find a specialist who suspected the presence of a non-standard problem and conducted mold testing.

However, the hurricane, which left around 700,000 people homeless and flooded 80% of the area of New Orleans, completely changed the situation. The American authorities were not prepared for such a scenario, and they were heavily criticized at that time. Many city residents died because they did not receive timely assistance from the authorities. It was impossible to bring back those who perished. But New Orleans was inhabited by non-affluent people, so the saved residents could not leave anywhere, and they returned to their homes. And these homes, after being flooded, were completely infested with mold. Ignoring their health problems that arose from living in such conditions became impossible.

Approximately 2 years after the hurricane, the scandal reached such a level that the authorities had to officially recognize the problem of chronic mycotoxin intoxication. Why is it all so complicated, you may ask? Because any officially recognized problem requires additional financial expenses. However, treating chronic diseases is usually difficult and expensive. But now, in the USA, any laboratory can conduct tests for mycotoxin intoxication.

What about Canada? Do we have mold here?

In Canada, we are still awaiting our own “Katrina.” That’s why I can’t provide you with Canadian statistics because officially we still don’t recognize the problem of chronic mold intoxication. The tests conducted by our local authorities to assess mold problems are highly criticized and unreliable. But let’s go step by step

What is mold toxicity, and how is it related to other chronic issues?

Many people have now heard about this problem. Moreover, when people experience strange and unexplained symptoms, they tend to immediately attribute them to mold. Specialists, on the other hand, are usually less categorical because they know well that similar symptoms can be caused by other issues. It’s crucial to identify the root cause because without it, it’s impossible to address the problem effectively. Treatment for mold intoxication, Lyme disease, and heavy metal toxicity, for example, differs, even though the symptoms often overlap. Furthermore, all these problems can mimic other illnesses. Therefore, comprehensive diagnostics are always necessary for successful treatment.

If there is mold in a building, does everyone living there become ill?

Many believe that if there is a mold problem, everyone living in that space or building should become sick. However, that’s not the case. Only those who are more sensitive will experience symptoms. It depends on the condition of their immune system, which varies among newborns, individuals with other chronic illnesses, the elderly, and those with specific genetic mutations. Hence, it’s possible for only one family member to fall ill.

What are mycotoxins?

Mycotoxins are byproducts of mold growth. Not all mold species produce mycotoxins, but many common household molds do, such as Aspergillus, Penicillium, and Stachybotrys chartarum (black mold). It has been proven that fungal mycotoxins are neurotoxic to our nervous system and can have adverse health effects on humans. They can also act as allergens, and some of them are recognized as carcinogens.

What is mycotoxin intoxication?

When mycotoxins enter our bodies through food or air, they can poison our system. However, mycotoxin intoxication is highly individual. It depends on the amount of mycotoxins entering the body and the ability of our system to effectively eliminate them.

I want to emphasize that in Canada, nobody denies that mold can cause health problems. The disputed question remains about chronic mycotoxin intoxication. Although it is logical to assume that if a patient with poor natural detoxification is exposed to mold for a long time, they can accumulate toxins in their body. And this intoxication does not disappear even if the patient is no longer in the presence of mycotoxins. Such intoxication requires specific assistance to remove the accumulated mycotoxins from the body.

How to determine if there is mold in your home?

If you enter the basement and see clusters of black mold hanging from the ceiling, it’s clear that there is mold in the house. However, that’s not always the case. In addition, mold may not be visible to the naked eye in older homes. A home inspection when buying a house may not protect you entirely as mold can be hidden behind wallpaper, inside the structure of the house, and even under the paint on the walls. I have heard numerous cases where an inspection conducted before purchasing a house missed this problem, and mold was only discovered years later during renovations. Therefore, in this matter, it’s best to trust an inspector who specializes in environmental issues.

The age of the house also doesn’t necessarily clarify the situation. If an old house is well-built, has had no leaks, and is properly ventilated, it may not have mold. On the other hand, a new house can have this problem. People who have never lived in a new house think that such houses never have these kinds of problems. However, I once lived in a new house where the roof leaked several times in the first year immediately after construction was completed. It was a builder’s oversight, but in the end, the brand-new house became at risk of mold growth.

Mold can also be found in items. Your old sofas, carpets, mattresses, and favorite books can all be affected by mold if they have been stored in a moldy environment for a long time.

One well-known source of mold is your beloved potted flowers. Mold is not a danger when it is outside in the garden, exposed to fresh air. However, when a flower is placed inside the house, the spores remain indoors and spread throughout the enclosed space. If they find a moist and warm area, they can grow there.

Another source is food. For example, peanuts often contain toxins from one of the most toxic types of mold. Another well-known source of mold is dried fruits.

Is it possible to forget about mold if your house does not have it?

Can you forget about mold if it’s not present in your home? Unfortunately, even if your house is perfectly clean, it doesn’t mean you are free from this problem. Mold can still be present in the following situations:

  • It was in a house from which you have already moved out, but you still experience the effects of exposure.
  • It is in a place where you work, study, or spend a significant amount of time.

There are actually two problems:

  • Your body’s reaction to mold, which involves the immune system producing antibodies.
  • The mold that has colonized your body and releases mycotoxins.

Symptoms of chronic mold intoxication

An increased reaction to mold and mycotoxins in the body can lead to a condition called Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS).

Symptoms of mold exposure may include:

  • diarrhea, abdominal pain, numbness;
  • stuffy sinuses, shortness of breath;
  • Memory impairment, difficulty finding words;
  • Skin hypersensitivity, tingling/tingling;
  • confusion, metallic taste, tearing;
  • Weakness, body aches, headache, sensitivity to light, trouble learning new information;
  • blurred vision, night sweats, mood swings, sharp pain, red or bloodshot eyes;
  • joint pain, morning stiffness, muscle cramps;
  • Deep, persistent fatigue;
  • problems concentrating;
  • dizziness, static discharges;
  • severe thirst, cough, confusion;
  • problems regulating body temperature, frequent urination;
  • Depression, autism spectrum disorder symptoms;
  • The inflammatory process in the body.

What illnesses are intoxication with mycotoxins often mistaken for?

Patients with CIRS are often misdiagnosed with other diseases, leading to years of unsuccessful attempts to treat the patient. These misdiagnoses include:

  • Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS);
  • Fibromyalgia;
  • Depression and anxiety;
  • Allergies;
  • Eating behaviour problems (failure to eat or overeat and, as a result, overweight); Mycotoxins can cause persistent nausea and vomiting, or they can cause constant hunger and a desire to eat something sweet;
  • Somatization (eg, hypochondria);
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD);
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS);
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Indoor Mold Testing

Tests sold in supermarkets are highly inaccurate. It is better to consult a specialist if you want to determine if you have mold in your home and how harmful it is to your health. Personally, I trust specialists certified in Building Biology because I have personally witnessed their level of education and technical expertise.

Mycotoxin Testing

Never start addressing your health issues by treating mold. First, you need to understand if there are other problems that could indirectly lead to intoxication. If such problems exist, you will not only have issues with mycotoxins but with any toxins that surround you in the modern world.

The Visual Contrast Sensitivity (VCS) testing measures changes in your ability to distinguish contrast between black, white, and gray objects. It used to be available on paper, but now it is conducted on a computer screen. A positive VCS test result is considered an indication that you may have been exposed to mold or mycotoxins.

Testing can be done through urine to detect mycotoxins leaving the body. It will not show anything if the body is unable to eliminate toxins. This test also does not differentiate between current toxin exposure and past intoxication. Blood tests can measure antibodies that indicate current or past mycotoxin intoxication. These tests should be ordered from laboratories in the United States with a specialist.

Principles of treatment mycotoxin intoxication

Mold treatment consists of two main parts:

  • If there is a mold source, you must remove it. This requires the assistance of specialists who can safely remove the source and help prevent mold reoccurrence in that area.
  • After addressing the mold exposure, you need to help your body detoxify from mold and mycotoxins.

How to detoxify the body from mycotoxins?

First and foremost, it is always necessary to treat the intestines and other issues that may have led to the body’s inability to eliminate all the toxins it has received. For instance, in the case of leaky gut syndrome, mycotoxins will be redistributed throughout the body instead of being expelled through stool. A healthy gut microbiome binds mycotoxins for elimination through stool. Imbalances in the gut microbiome can jeopardize your ability to eliminate mycotoxins.

Additionally, before starting detoxification, it is crucial to nourish the body with essential nutrients needed for the detoxification organs to function, such as vitamins A, C, and E, and glutathione.

Only after these steps can you begin the detoxification process. Detox typically involves a range of therapies that can be done either in a specialist’s office or at home. For example, an infrared sauna may be included in the protocol if you have access to one.

Substances that bind mycotoxins can also be used to facilitate their elimination. Natural antihistamine remedies may be helpful in alleviating detoxification symptoms.

Conclusion

If you are truly experiencing symptoms of mycotoxin intoxication from mold, eliminating contact with mold and supporting your body’s detoxification capacity will help you restore your health. Remember, not everyone in the same household falls ill, and even among those who react negatively to the presence of mold, not everyone accumulates mycotoxins. Therefore, much depends on individual detoxification abilities and the condition of the intestines and other elimination organs.


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