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When a family member gets affected by any illness, I jump right in and do research.  So here we go.  

Mold-related health problems are genuine and affect many people yearly, and mold issues are often misdiagnosed, undiagnosed, or left untreated in conventional medicine.  Through my research, I found information to help break down mold toxicity, what that means, and how to take a root-cause approach to treating mold toxicity symptoms. 

As always, the details below are purely informative.

What is mold toxicity?

Mold is a common fungus that grows in places with much moisture, like roofs, pipes, and underwood and tile floors and ceilings.  However, mold can also grow in places like refrigerators and food.    Different types of mold are around us all the time.  Still, some are more dangerous than others, and certain people can be allergic to mold or sensitive to the naturally occurring toxins, called mycotoxins, that mold can emit. When exposed to too much mold, or certain types of mold known to cause health issues, it can lead to mold toxicity.

According to Megan McElroy, PA-C, a physician assistant at Parsley Health: “Mold toxicity issues are commonly overlooked in conventional medicine.” Why? Because mold toxicity can cause a wide range of symptoms that can be hard to describe if you have them and hard to piece together for your doctor, especially if they don’t have experience and training in mold issues.

What are the symptoms of mold toxicity?

The symptoms of mold issues can be divided into two main categories.  The first is an immune reaction to mold, which typically involves allergy-like symptoms such as sinus issues, runny nose, itchy skin and eyes, asthma, shortness of breath, and more. The second type of mold issue is a chemical and inflammatory reaction to mold and is driven by mycotoxins, which can initiate an inflammatory cytokine-driven response in the body. As you might already know about chronic inflammation, this can create symptoms that are vague, broad, and very hard to pin down, such as:

  • Cognitive difficulties (brain fog, poor memory, anxiety)

  • Pain (especially abdominal pain, but can include muscle pain similar to fibromyalgia)

  • Unexplained weight gain or weight loss

  • Numbness and tingling in extremities or other areas of the body

  • Metallic taste in the mouth

  • Vertigo or dizziness

  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)

  • Digestive issues (minimal tolerance to food, persistent bloating)

  • Significant fatigue that interferes with daily activities

  • Changes in mood

  • Excessive thirst and dehydration

  • Bed-wetting in children

  • Symptoms that resemble hormone imbalances (hair loss, rashes, skin dryness) 

As explained by a researcher at the Mayo Clinic, "the symptoms of mycotoxin-induced illness vary and have no pattern, and they are not unique to this illness,” which means they can easily be mistaken for something else.

12 Foods That Grow Mold Easily is important to be aware of the foods that are particularly prone to mold growth and take preventative measures to avoid contamination.

Bread – especially

  • White bread

  • Soft cheese – like brie, camembert, and blue cheese

  • Cured meats – such as salami and prosciutto

  • Nuts – particularly peanuts, walnuts, and pecans

  • Seeds – especially sunflower and pumpkin seeds

  • Berries – such as strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries

  • Melons – like watermelon and cantaloupe

  • Tomatoes – particularly when overripe or bruised

  • Peppers – especially when not stored properly

  • Mushrooms – particularly when past their prime

  • Jams and jellies – especially homemade varieties

  • Fruit juice – particularly freshly squeezed or unpasteurized varieties

Why are mold issues difficult to diagnose?

“Conventional medicine recognizes that mold can cause allergies but does not recognize that mycotoxins emitted by some species of indoor mold can cause a problem,” says McElroy. This means that doctors unfamiliar with mold and mold treatment may miss one of the main types of mold reactions—chemical and inflammatory reactions. This is for a few reasons:

  • There is no gold standard in testing for mold

  • There is no standardized treatment protocol or drug for mold toxicity

  • There are very limited human-based studies looking at the connection between mycotoxins and human health

  • The presentation of mold issues is very different among patients

  • Not everyone exposed to mold mycotoxins will react to them

It’s no wonder mold illness can be hard to diagnose. Fortunately, holistic medicine providers consider environmental factors that affect health when evaluating patients and may have additional advanced training in treating mold toxicity.

According to McElroy, one of the biggest challenges with mold is that mycotoxins can cause only some people to launch an inflammatory response. “This unpredictable response can go on for years after a long-term exposure in a susceptible individual.”

How can you treat mold toxicity symptoms?

While experts recommend various unproven helpful medicines to treat mold, McElroy recommends the steps below.

You might be surprised that “killing the mold” is only one out of four.

-Eliminate exposure

-Address sinus health

-Lower inflammation

-Optimize detoxification

12 Recommendations to Keep Your Food Safe & Mold-Free

Maintaining proper food safety practices is essential for safeguarding our health and preventing the growth of harmful bacteria and common fungi. 

-Always wash your hands with soap and water or use food-grade sanitizers before handling food to prevent the transfer of bacteria.-Store food in airtight containers or wrap it in plastic to prevent contamination and keep moisture out.-Regularly clean your refrigerator to prevent the growth of mold and bacteria.-Wipe down surfaces with vinegar to kill bacteria and indoor mold.-Use separate cutting boards for raw meats and vegetables to prevent cross-contamination.-To eradicate harmful bacteria, use a food thermometer to ensure that food has been cooked to the appropriate temperature.-Freeze food that you can’t consume immediately to prevent mold from growing.-Leftovers should be consumed in 48 hours to prevent mold and bacteria growth.-Use desiccants, such as silica gel packets, to absorb moisture in food containers.-Always check the expiration dates on food to ensure they are safe to consume.-Regularly clean your kitchen and refrigerator to prevent mold growth.-To inhibit mold growth on food, consider using natural remedies like grapefruit seed extract and clove oil.

The information herein contained is not intended to treat or diagnose any illness.  If you feel you have any medical issues, please consult your physician.

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