What You Need to Know About Toxic Mold

What You Need to Know About Toxic Mold

If you live or work in a moldy home or office, frequent a moldy structure (e.g., an old bookstore, church, or library), each time you breathe, you inhale mold spores. These spores also make their way onto your clothes and your belongings, allowing for contamination wherever you go. These mold spores can cause illness, with symptoms similar to those caused by Lyme infections. Many people do not know that these mold spores are what’s keeping them ill, and this is an important factor with Asthma and Candida too.

It is important to understand that mold is only part of the problem. Mold toxins, heavy metal toxicity, genetic factors, underlying respiratory ailments, antibiotic use, a weakened immune system, increased chemical sensitivities, hormonal imbalances, and viral infections are all interconnected.

If your immune system is weakened by lack of sleep, Lyme, antibiotics and non-optimal eating habits, you are more susceptible to fungal overgrowth in the body. You will also be more affected by mold in your environment.

Many people do not understand how difficult daily life can be for the individual dealing with a toxic mold infection. Misdiagnosed individuals are prescribed multiple prescription drugs, including antidepressants, antipsychotics, and sleep medications—even though they have toxic mold illness. Often, mold-toxic individuals are diagnosed with the vague diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome because they are not able to function in daily life.

Mold spores exist outdoors. They can be found in the air, soil, and everywhere in nature where it is warm, damp, and humid, including compost piles and wooded areas that favor the growth of mold and mushrooms. Many different types of mold can be found all around us.

Indoors, mold is prevalent under older carpets, in sheetrock, in walls, in shower stalls, in basements, and in air conditioner ducts. Water damage in older apartments and homes that was not correctly remediated increases the risk of harmful mold exposures for the people living there. Newer buildings that are energy efficient and not well ventilated can trap toxic mold spores that are inhaled by occupants. Finsihed and unfinished basements in homes without an adequate humidifyer are a breeding ground for mold that can spread quickly through the house during humid and warm months.

Symptoms include a hyper-reactive immune response, chronic sinusitis, brainfog and a metallic taste in the mouth. Individuals suffering from this condition have no tolerance for exercise and can be misdiagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Fibromyalgia. It takes an investigative and integrated approach to address the various components of this complicated and misunderstood environmental illness.

Mold toxins play havoc with the brain and the body’s biochemistry. The blood-brain barrier is designed to keep toxins out of the sensitive brain; when it is breached, poisonous substances enter the brain and cause damage. This damage causes psychiatric symptoms and learning disabilities that are often misdiagnosed by psychiatrists and pediatricians. For instance, toxic mold illnesses can be misdiagnosed as autism spectrum–related disorders because the symptoms are similar. This is also part of the complex landscape of chronic Lyme.

When suffering from toxic mold exposure, melatonin production is compromised; thus, insomnia is a common occurrence. Sleep patterns are often disrupted, also contributing to excessive fatigue as well as neurological, behavioral, and bipolar disorders that are often treated with hard-core drugs from a psychiatric professional without a thorough medical and living environment evaluation.

If you are not sure if you are suffering from toxic mold exposure, you can do a self-test by leaving your home and moving into a sterile environment, with new clothes, for four to five days. Then, go back home and see how you feel. If you feel exhausted after going to stores where they sell pesticides, or have breathing problems when exposed to synthetic air fresheners, or get tired or headachy when spending time in older public buildings, this is a good clue that you might suffer from toxic mold exposure in your own home – or you there is a fungal infection present.

As long as you are exposed to harmful mold toxins in your home, you are constantly repoisoning your system. With the humidity in NYC, mold is certainly a concern. To become well, you must get into a mold-free environment. If you choose to move, it is necessary to leave all the furniture behind and to have your clothes professionally cleaned to avoid a transfer of spores.

There is no one simple test to know if you have a mold illness. The work of Dr. Richie Shoemaker is instrumental and his comprehensive book Surviving Mold is a good resource that discusses visual, nasal swabs, inflammatory and genetic blood markers implicated with mold sickness, available mold testing in homes and remediation techniques. Testing and lab kits are available from P&K Microbiology, or you can use an environmental mold index test

From personal experience I can say that it is best to use professional remediation to address any mold contamination in the home. It is worth spending money on getting it done professionally. Common remediation options include extremely toxic chemicals; however, I recommend the biological approach with enzymes.

Yeast infections are common when we are prescribed antibiotics for Lyme. Chronic Lyme can include prolonged courses of antibiotics. Clients are often given a prescription of Nystatin to offset a fungal infection that can also cause debilitating symptoms. Doctors prescriptions include Diflucan , which acts on a systemic level , when fungal infections are present in the urinary tract, but is tough on the liver. Nystatin works at localized level in the gut.

Eating a probiotic yoghurt and fermented foods, and taking probiotics is a good course of preventative action. In addition, S. Boulardii is a healthy yeast that crowds out harmful yeast in the gut and vaginal area. All are available at health stores and Whole foods.

I recommend S. Boulardii  for many digestive illnesses such as IBS and bacterial overgrowth in the intestines, when fungal infections are present,  S. Boulardii can also be used as a nasal wash with chronic sinusitis, and a vaginal application too.  It is effective for an infection, called C-Diff, that can be acquire with antibiotic use or hospitalization.

As you enjoy summer, and ventilate areas where humidity builds up in your home. Take care of your gut, go easy on sugar – and that includes the strawberry rum punch too!

Have a happy Summer!

Rika Keck

NY Integrated Health

Excerpts from “Nourish, Heal, Thrive”

A Comprehensive amd Holistic Guide when Living with Lyme

 

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