This post was a personal request! I love requests. 🙂 This is important folks, even those without Lyme disease. It is one of the single most misdiagnosed illnesses in the United States, as ourselves and our doctors don’t even think of it as a possibility for being sick. Haha, I would beg to differ that LYME is the single most misdiagnosed disease in the U.S…. but maybe that’s just me. 😉
There are many different toxicities found in Lyme disease. I have shared a blog about mercury toxicity and Lyme disease, but another one that is very common among Lymies is mold toxicity. What exactly is mold toxicity and what are the effects of having it? How is it relevant to Lyme disease? How do you test for it and what can you do about it?
Mold toxicity is a term that is used to describe different molds and how they make can cause harm to humans in excess quantities. Mold is mildew or fungi and develop when they have a source to “thrive on” that is desirable such as moisture, warmer temperatures, and a source of food.. think fruit left on the counter, wood, your grout in the tub, your basement..then can grow easily once mold starts to develop. There are over 150,000 types of mold! Fortunately, not all are harmful to humans.
You can either have a mold allergy, or have a mold illness. An allergy is different than having an illness as it has a more serious reaction. In this case as it causes in inflammation within the body by causing your immune system to work improperly. It is considered a biotoxin illness called Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome, or (CIRS). When you have this condition, it is much harder to release the harmful toxins from your body.
The reason we can get sick from the mold is inhaling the spores of the mold, which are reproducing single cells that are tiny, and can live in almost any condition. What also makes you sick is the mycotoxins from mold release. What is a mycototoxin you may ask? Mycotoxins are the secondary metabolites (ok google time – a substance formed that is necessary for metabolism.. in this case it would be for the mold) and can cause harm and even death in some cases.
There are different species of molds that are toxic to humans. Some of these molds include:
Stachybotrys – The most serious time of mold toxicity you can have. The word that we can actually pronounce for this type of mold is black mold. Some symptoms it can cause respiratory issues, eye irritation, sore throat, coughing, fibromyaglia, and central nervous system issues. In severe cases, black mold can cause brain and nerve damage, pulmonary edema, liver damage, cancer, and can result in death from the complications of it. One not to take lightly!
Memnoniella – Is generally found alongside black mold that not only effects humans but effects animals as well.
Penicillium – Also called Aspergillus penicillium, is another type of mold that although it is harmful to humans, it is considered the least harmful. This type of mold can be found just about ANYWHERE in your home, from dust, to food, and decaying food materials. It can also be found in soil. There is over 160 different species of this mold, and 16 can cause harm to humans. Some of the symptoms of this type of mold toxicity is hair thinning, skin rashes, acid reflux, sore eyes and throat, and vomiting.
Cladosporium – A powdery black or darkish green substance that is found in the air, indoor and outdoor. It is found on decaying plants, food, straw, textiles, paint, and fiberglass duct lines to name a few. There are over 30 species of this type of mold, and they are the ones that cause nail fungus, sinusitis, asthma, and keratitis.
Fusarium – Found in humidifiers, water damaged carpets, and a variety of plants. It is most associated with eye skin, and nail infections. It can also cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dermatitis, internal bleeding, and female reproductive issues.
Mucor – Found in the soil and animal droppings. I know we don’t play with poo ( I hope not, but you can get the toxicity pretty easily, if you live near a farm, or have pets. It is also found in household dust. The most common symptom of this mold toxicity is lung infections.
Anternaria – Found in soil and plants, but generally brought into the home. When inhaled, Anternaria can cause asthma, hay fever, and other types of allergies.
Some of the very first signs you may have an allergy to mold are: is sneezing, a runny nose, coughing, eye irritation, or a closed or sore throat. For longtime exposure, look for symptoms like: asthma, constant headaches, swollen glands, neurological disorders, loss of appetite, nose bleeds, sinus and bronchitis infections, and fibromyalgia ( I refer to fibro a symptom, not a diagnosis), cancer, blindness, bleeding lungs, among other issues.
There are many reasons behind what can be the cause of having mold toxicity. I mentioned some above, such as plants, food, soil, and dust, but there are many other sources. One of the obvious ones is being exposed to a water damaged house or building. Drywall, carpeting, and other porous things like in your bathtub or sink. Mold thrives on moisture. The spores that effect you are also airborne, so it is a good idea to avoid these types of places if you know that you have an allergy to mold.
Other ways you can have mold toxicity is by touching (in serious cases you can indeed go blind with longtime exposure in your eyes), smoking cigars as the papers generally have mold on them, or eating contaminated foods. Remember that even cheese has mold!
Mold is also found in natural environment. Gee that’s fun… being allergic to going outside and breathing.
Needless to say, it is pretty inevitable that you will be exposed to mold in one way or another.
One of the issues among Lymies is that we have a harder time to release toxins from our body. Many of us have a genetic mutation called Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR), or as I call it, the motherfucker mutation, that makes it even harder to get rid of these toxins. Super!
When your immune system is down, which we all know Lyme causes many systematic issues, we are immune compromised that makes us sick verses someone who might have an allergy to mold, but is less effected by it because their immune system is good and strong, and able to release all the toxins from their body.
People with Lyme disease can develop intolerances and have mold and chemical sensitivities once they begin treatment. We can get all sorts of intolerances once starting treatment! An example is the fact that I could easily pound a box of Kraft mac and cheese to my face, but now with a few pieces of pasta I can feel my throat closing and my lymph nodes beginning to swell. You might have always had a mold allergy but never had the noticeable or severe symptoms to go along with it and the treatment brings out the allergy since you are already creating toxins in your body.
One source states that for people that carry serious levels of toxicity, it can be the primary cause of illness that might even be worse than the overall symptoms of Lyme and other tick-borne infections. So… definitely something that needs to be addressed if you think there is a possibility of mold toxicity!
Ways to find out if you have mold toxicity are getting tested to see if you have antibodies for mold. Unfortunately, that test is rather limited as it just shows you WERE exposed to mold. Not currently. Skin tests are a more reliable way to find out if you have exposure. You can take what is called a RAST test to see if you are allergic to any mold substances. It is a more reliable test as it can tell you actual levels in your body. You can even test things in your home (a moist basement, walls, a tub) and send them in to labs to find out if there is indeed mold. It is called an ERMI test. However, research says the best way of testing your home is the AIR. There is a chance by cutting materials can stir up the mold which could make the situation worse for you.
So where do you go from here? One of the main issues is that people are treating the symptoms, such as buying nose spray, but not trying to solve the root of the problem.
I know this is an easier said than done, but if you KNOW what the source is for having mold toxicity, try to get away from it, as it is going to be a reoccurring or continuous problem.
Some workplaces and your home might contain mold. I know many can’t just get up and move, or necessarily leave their jobs, but there are a few things you can do. You (or someone else that DOESN’T have a mold toxicity) can do a cleaning throughout your home by finding things and stopping the growth. Repair surfaces that have mold. Flooding, high humidity, plumbing leaks, etc. Scrub with detergent and water, or bleach. Always wear a mask doing these cleanups! Allow 24-48 hours to dry as many porous things take a long time to dry. HEPA filters in your furnace will reduce the amount of dust coming into your home. If you do not own your own home, contact your tenant and there are many rights that you have that your landlord needs to address this issue as it is a health hazard.
Cholestyramine is a common way to treat mold exposure. It is a medication that binds bile in the gastrointestinal tract that prevents it from coming back. Some use activated charcoal, Chlorella, antifungals like athlete’s foot creams, Nystatin, and Diflucan. Other great natural options are garlic, oil of oregano, olive leaf extract, grapefruit seed extract ( a Lyme cyst buster!), and glutathione.There are many ways to rid yourself of mold toxicity, so talk to your doctor to find out what is right for you.
DON’T FORGET TO DETOX! Epsom salt soaks, lemon water, infrared saunas, lactated ringers, therapeutic massage, burbur drops, a Lyme friendly diet, and avoiding things you know suppress your immune system like coffee, smoking, and alcohol.
I have never been personally tested but after doing some research I am curious if I have any issues related to mold. All my windows are brand new, but I do only have a crawl space in my house, and it does get wet in the spring, although now we have proper drainage to keep it dry. So there is a very good possibility there is mold since it was exposed to water for an extended period of time. I have realized that I am likely exposed to mold in some way, because I have tinea versicolor, a fungal rash of the skin. I use an athlete’s foot cream on my chest and back and it seems to calm it down.
So in conclusion, another thing that us Lymies need to consider in the healing process. As well as those without Lyme, if you are facing some of those symptoms it very well could be mold toxicity. As I always say, make sure you always consult with your doctor!
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