By Dr Theodore | January 16, 2013
Mold infection symptoms can vary greatly depending on the type of mold infection you have, your age, the current state of your health and how strong your immune system is.
Mold pollution is a key element of indoor air pollution that few people are aware of or understand, and even fewer people consider as a serious cause of health problems.
Mold in your home, school or workplace can pose a number of serious health problems that you may not realize are related to mold exposure.
Some experts believe that up to 40 percent of schools and 30 percent of homes in western countries have mold infestations, unknown to those that live in those buildings. I believe that in hot, humid and damp climates such as here in Bali, those figures could well be a lot higher.
Serious health effects of mold may be reaching pandemic levels.
Mold Infections Can Be Deadly
You may not be aware that molds can make you extremely sick, or even kill you. Yes that’s correct, they can cause potentially fatal health issues.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) all molds have the potential to cause ill health. How sick you become will depend on many factors: the type of mold, what type of exposure you have had and for how long, how old you are and how healthy you are.
At a 2003 environmental medicine symposium in Dallas, studies of more than 1,600 patients suffering health issues related to fungal exposure were presented. These patients experienced major medical problems, including the following mold symptoms and signs of mold exposure:
- Muscle and joint pain
- Shortness of breath
- Headache, anxiety, depression, memory loss, and visual disturbances
- Immune system disturbances and fatigue
- Gastro-intestinal problems
It is important to be aware of these potential problems because your physician may NOT be, as mold infections are not commonly acknowledge by most medical professionals who may not be aware that what you are presenting with are in fact mold infection symptoms.
Mold’s Favorite Places in Your Home
Molds can grow on virtually any substance, provided moisture and oxygen are present. There are molds that can grow on wood, paper, carpet, tile, sheetrock, insulation, leather, fabrics and foods. Molds digest whatever substrate they are growing on, for example your floorboards. It is impossible to eliminate all mold and mold spores from your indoor environment; the only way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture. The most common indoor places for mold to take hold are areas such as:
- Bathrooms and kitchens, especially under sinks
- Behind or under appliances that hide slow plumbing leaks (refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines, etc.)
- Roof leaks
- Around windows where condensation collects
- High humidity areas of your home, such as basements
Often, the first sign of a mold problem is a “musty” odor. You are probably familiar with the smell of mildew—mildew is simply a variety of mold. You may also notice buckled floorboards, discolored carpet, a new water stain on your wall, or black or white specks—all signs you could be developing a mold problem. But what type of life form is mold?
Types of Molds
Mold is a type of fungus (like mushrooms and yeasts). There are between 100,000 and 400,000 types of fungi (estimates vary), and of these, scientists have identified more than 1,000 types of mold growing inside houses. Molds are classified into three groups according to human responses:
- Allergenic Molds: These don’t usually produce dangerous effects however they can cause problems if you are allergic or asthmatic. Children are particularly susceptible to mold allergies.
- Pathogenic Molds: These produce some sort of infection, which is of particular concern if your immune system is suppressed. They can cause hypersensitivity pneumonitis, an acute response resembling bacterial pneumonia. An example is Aspergillus fumigatus, which can grow in the lungs of immune-compromised individuals.
- Toxic Molds: These dangerous molds produce mycotoxins, which can have serious health effects on almost anyone. Possible reactions include immunosuppression and cancer. Mycotoxins are chemical toxins present within or on the surface of the mold spore, which you then unwittingly inhale, ingest, or touch. An example of this is aflatoxin, one of the most potent carcinogens known to mankind. Aflatoxin grows on peanuts and grains, and on some other foods.
The five most common indoor mold varieties are:
- Alternaria: This is found in your nose, mouth and upper respiratory tract; can cause allergic responses.
- Aspergillus: This is found in warm, extremely damp climates and produces mycotoxins; can cause lung infections (aspergillosis).
- Cladosporium: This very common outdoor fungus can find its way indoors to grow on textiles, wood and other damp, porous materials; triggers hay fever and asthma symptoms.
- Penicillium: Very common species found on wallpaper, decaying fabrics, carpet, and fiberglass duct insulation; known for causing allergies and asthma; some species produce mycotoxins, one being the common antibiotic penicillin.
- Stachybotrys: Extremely toxic “black mold” that produces mycotoxins that can cause serious breathing difficulties and bleeding of the lungs, among other health problems; thankfully, less common in homes than the other four, but not rare; found on wood or paper (cellulose products), but NOT on concrete, linoleum or tile
Mycotoxins: Deadly Poisons
Molds produce a number of powerful substances that can cause very serious health consequences and even death.
Some mold compounds are volatile and released directly into the air, known as microbial volatile organic compounds (mVOCs). Fragments of the cell walls of molds can also be inhaled and cause inflammatory respiratory reactions, including a flu-like illness called Organic Dust Toxic Syndrome (ODTS).
But the most serious danger comes from highly poisonous agents called mycotoxins.
More than 200 mycotoxins have been identified from common molds. Mycotoxins interfere with RNA synthesis and may cause DNA damage. The mycotoxins most commonly studied by researchers are the trichothecenes, produced by Stachybotyrs chartarum and Aspergillus versicolor. Mycotoxins, even in very tiny quantities, are lipid-soluble and readily absorbed by your intestinal lining, airways and skin. Some are so poisonous that they have been studied and developed as biological warfare agents as far back as the 1940s. Aflatoxin and trichothecenes are examples.
Dead mold spores that are no longer able to reproduce can still harm your health due to these mycotoxins.. The spores do not produce the toxins—rather, it is thought that the toxins are produced when the spores are produced, by the mold colony.
Mycotoxins can affect virtually every organ or system of your body, for example:
Vascular System: blood vessel fragility, hemorrhage from tissues or lungs.
Respiratory System: breathing problems, bleeding from lungs.
Skin: rashes, burning, sloughing, photosensitivity.
Reproductive System: infertility, irregular menstrual cycles.
Digestive System: diarrhea, vomiting, hemorrhage, liver damage, fibrosis and necrosis.
Neurological System: headaches, tremors, depression, loss of coordination, multiple sclerosis.
Urinary System: kidney toxicity and failure.
Immune: Immunosuppression and associated immune deficiencies leading to serious infections and possibly cancers.
Mold sinus infection is also exceedingly common and very often misdiagnosed.
A 1999 Mayo Clinic press release stated:
“Mayo Clinic researchers say they have found the cause of most chronic sinus infections—an immune system response to fungus.
This points to an enormous number of chronic sinus infections that are being misdiagnosed and mistreated!
Treatment For Mold Infection
Most doctors will probably use either all or some of the following for treating mold infections: nasal corticosteroids, antibiotics, antidepressants, and antifungal medications. Steroids lead to a suppression of your immune system if used in high doses and would be counterproductive long term in my opinion.
Antibiotics are not effective against fungal or mold infections and would only cause further problems. Antidepressants tend to be used when the doctor doesn’t believe you have a mold infection and feels that your problems are in your head.
Antifungal drugs are quite toxic, especially to your liver. For example, the drug Lamisil (terbinafine), used to treat toenail fungus, is so toxic that its manufacturer Novartis warns you in their product insert that Lamisil has resulted in liver failure, the need for liver transplants, and death.
Nystatin is another antifungal that is used both orally and topically for Candida overgrowth. However, nystatin is poorly absorbed by your gastrointestinal tract and is not intended to treat mold infections or systemic fungal disease.
Fungi, including yeast and molds, need sugar in order to survive. So what you put into your body is very important when it comes to your recovery from a mold infection.
Fungi will thrive on a diet high in fructose, sucrose (table sugar), lactose (milk sugar) and other sugars, so you are best served to starve them of these foods in order to attempt to remove them from your body.
Combine this with an intense whole body detoxification and mold removal program and you will be on your way to ridding your self of any mold or fungal infection once and for all and eliminating all of your mold infection symptoms.