Your body is equipped to handle occasional mold exposure, thanks to a robust immune system. But if you notice toxic mold symptoms, this may be a sign to call in more detox support. Likewise, you may want to double-check your home for any place where mold can grow. In this post, Stefani shares what toxic mold symptoms to look for and what to do if you suspect toxic mold.
Toxic mold is somewhat of a health niche buzzword these days. We’re seeing it everywhere, and watching as it is blamed for ailments from sinus and respiratory conditions to chronic full-body disorders. There are differing opinions on exactly what type of mold will affect you; is it the stuff you find in the shower, or is it the more sinister fungus that hides behind drywall and invades air ducts?
Exposure to black mold can cause a wide range of health problems for some people, while others may not respond at all. The toxic mold symptoms depend on the individual and how their body reacts.
How is it possible that something so small can cause problems that are so large?
The impact of toxic mold on your health
Naturally found outdoors, mold spores can easily enter your home through doorways, windows, and HVAC systems. Spores in the air can also hitch rides on people and animals, which spreads the mold indoors and compromises shoes, clothes, and furniture.
These spores are always in the air, and they grow and thrive on moisture.
When they land on places where there is water or water damage, they will grow. Mold can grow on anything that is damp and porous, such as paper, cardboard, ceiling tiles, wood, drywall, and carpet.
Even brand-new homes can harbor mold, as builders hastily install water-damaged materials like drywall, which is then covered by plaster and paint, hiding its dirty secret.
But the impact of toxic mold goes beyond the black stuff growing inside damp spaces.
The real culprit is the nanoparticle mycotoxins that are released by the mold spores. These toxins are considered a “natural poison,” and their dangerous effect will vary by the individual.
The severity of health decline due to mycotoxins depends on the duration of the exposure, age, health, and sex, and also genetics, vitamin deficiency, and even infectious disease status. If your body is strong, effects may be minimal.
But if your body is already weak, or fighting something like an autoimmune disease, it could affect you greatly. Those with certain genetic mutations may also be more sensitive to mold.
How do you know if mold is making you sick?
Mycotoxins, specifically trichothecenes, aflatoxins, and ochratoxins, can be found in urine samples of people who have been exposed to a moldy environment.
So if you suspect that your house or workplace is moldy, you can see your doctor for testing.
Yes, you can test for a mold allergy. Allergy testing will show you if you have an allergic response when exposed to mold.
However, a negative mold allergy test does not mean that you won’t feel the noxious effects of toxic mold if you’ve been living or working in a moldy building. Having an allergy to mold just means that you know you’ll have a reaction, and you should do everything you can to avoid being exposed.
One of the best ways to find out if you’re living in a moldy environment is to take a trip. Leave home for a few days. Do you feel better? Do you start feeling sick again upon returning? You just might have a mold problem.
Toxic mold symptoms to look for
Some black mold symptoms can be serious. And many of them mimic chronic Lyme disease. Some of the more common toxic mold symptoms are:
- Fatigue and weakness
- A headache, light sensitivity
- Poor memory, difficult word finding
- Difficulty concentrating
- Imbalanced hormones and thyroid disorders
- Joint pain
- Unusual skin sensations, tingling, and numbness
- Shortness of breath, sinus congestion or a chronic cough
- Appetite swings and blood sugar deregulation
- Poor body temperature regulation
- Increased urinary frequency or increased thirst
- Red eyes or blurred vision
- Hot flashes or sweats
- Mood swings, depression, anxiety, and other mental or emotional disorders
- Sharp pains
- Abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloating
- Metallic taste in the mouth
- Static shocks
- Vertigo, feeling lightheaded
Many children diagnosed with PANDAS/PANS and even autism spectrum disorders may have an underlying infectious mold problem.
How to manage toxic mold symptoms
The most important part of managing toxic mold symptoms is getting out of the moldy environment. You cannot begin to treat this issue while still continually being exposed to the mold and mycotoxins.
If there has ever been a leak in your home, and you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, consider that toxic mold could be at the root of your illness, even if there is no visible mold.
If you rent, then get a mold test done and take it to your landlord; they are required to provide a safe place to live or let you out of your lease. If you own the home, then get a mold test done and find out if your homeowner’s insurance will cover remediation.
The best way to test the air in your home is using an ERMI- environmental relative moldiness index – you can pay less than $200 to find out if your home is harboring toxic mold. Order the test here by calling the appropriate customer service number.
If you do have toxic mold:
Get rid of all porous items that were exposed to the moldy environment. This means blankets, pillows, clothes*, papers, books, and furniture that is porous. These cannot be cleaned of the mold and will risk contaminating a new home if you bring them with you.
*You may be able to save some favorite or special clothing items by washing them in this mold-fighting laundry additive.
How long your mold illness will last will greatly depend on your body’s unique abilities to detox.
If your detox pathways are open and functioning properly – or if you make a point of supporting them – then you will be able to rid your body of these toxins much faster than someone whose body isn’t detoxing quickly.
Ways to decrease mold exposure
- Fix plumbing leaks and other water problems as soon as possible.
- Discard absorbent or porous materials, such as damp ceiling tiles and carpet, if they become moldy. If walls grow mold, the drywall must be cut out and replaced.**
- Clean mold off hard surfaces such as solid wood furniture with vinegar and essential oils like clove and tea tree, or this mold solution concentrate and dry completely.
- Clean and repair roof gutters regularly.
- Keep air conditioning drip pans and drain lines clear.
- Keep indoor humidity between 30 and 50 percent, as this minimizes mold growth.
- Do not install carpeting in areas where perpetual moisture problems may develop.
- Lessen the amount of mold toxins in your home’s air by diffusing clove and tea tree essential oils and installing air purifiers that remove mold. This purifier destroys mold rather than trapping it like most air purifiers.
**If your home has mold, you must hire a professional remediation company to get the mold out. Do not try to remove the mold yourself, as disturbing mold spores will only result in releasing mycotoxins (the poisons released by mold spores) into the air, which will then re-contaminate everything in your home.
Natural remedies for toxic mold exposure
There are several natural ways to try to minimize mold damage in your body.
- Use binders, such as bentonite clay, activated charcoal, or even cholestyramine (a prescription medication) to bind the mycotoxins and help them to leave your body.
- Do sinus rinses using natural salt and a drop or two of iodine, at least twice a day.
- Eat detox foods like beets or this detox salad.
- Eat a GAPS or paleo diet; most importantly, eliminate gluten and dairy.
- Use an infrared sauna.
- Take detox baths.
- Remove toxins and help your liver keep up with the toxic load.
Additionally, a high-quality air purifier can be helpful in removing mold spores and mycotoxins from the air, but this only helps if the source of the problem has been remediated.
While toxic mold isn’t a good thing, the severity of response depends on the sensitivity of each person. Make sure you are vigilant about properly repairing leaks in your home, getting rid of damaged materials, and installing high-quality air filters.
Ultimately, if you’re taking care of your body and eating the right foods, your body will be stronger and better able to manage threats like toxic mold.