Molds are fungi that thrive in moisture rich environments, both indoors and out. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the most common indoor molds include Cladosporium Penicillium, Alternaria, Aspergillus, and of course Trichothecenes, which are the family of black mold. There is research that suggests individuals who are in an environment where molds are present can be at risk for developing a wide variety of medical conditions. For others, the exposure may have been years ago, but your genetics can be preventing you from being able to get rid of the toxins and are causing symptoms now. It is important to determine if mold toxins are contributing to your health concerns and most importantly if you are still being actively exposed.
Where mold grows…
Common places in the home that mold often grows include the bathroom, kitchen, refrigerator, mattresses, window sills, air conditioners and heating systems, walls and ceilings, chimneys, garages, attics, basements and laundry rooms. Even new buildings can contain mold from building supplies.
Another common source of mold exposure is the foods that we eat. The Ochratoxin A family of molds are found in foods such as cereal grains (wheat, millet, rice, barley, oats, rye and corn), dried fruit, wine, coffee, tea, chocolate, and juices. Aflatoxins are found in foods such as peanuts, tree nuts, maize, rice, spices, vegetable oils and cocoa beans.
How can mold toxicity affect your health?
It is well known that exposure to certain molds can result in a variety of medical conditions. Twenty percent of the population does not have the genetic ability to process out the toxins that form in the body when a mold exposure occurs. Therefore, the exposure to the mold may not be current. You may have been exposed in the past, or intermittently over time and your body is now showing symptoms of the buildup of the toxins. It is very important to determine if you are currently being exposed to mold and remediate the problem. But even if there is not current contact, in your living or work environments, mold toxicity could still be causing the symptoms that you are experiencing. Mold is everywhere. Our physicians are experienced at looking “outside the box” and relating symptoms that may seem unrelated to one another back to the underlying cause, which may in fact be mold.
Symptoms that may be related to mold exposure include:
- Asthma – wheezing, shortness of breath, chronic cough, frequent respiratory infections
- Allergy/Rhinitis symptoms – Sneezing, congestion, frequent sinus infections, cough
- Eczema – rashes and hives
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Joint pain and stiffness
- Headaches and migraines
- Chronic fatigue
- Cognitive dysfunction – memory loss, confusion, brain fog
- Ringing in ears or hearing loss
- Anxiety and depression
Our physicians start by taking a full medical history and carry out a physical examination. They will consider the list of possible causes for your symptoms. If appropriate, they will order laboratory testing to identify or rule out possible causes for your symptoms, including mold toxicity. We currently utilize a urine test performed at RealTime Laboratories to assess for mold toxicity.
If mold toxicity is confirmed, the first step is to determine if you are currently being exposed. This may involve seeking professional assistance to determine if mold is present in your home and if professional remediation is recommended. Remember also that your exposure may be at your place of employment.
In addition, our doctors may recommend medications and supplements to help your body remove the mold toxins from your system.
Dealing with mold toxicity can be a long-term issue, therefore we will continuously review your case and check-in with you to see how you’re doing. For further questions, guidance or advice on how to deal with potential exposure to mold speak to one of our doctors for more information.