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12 Mold Toxicity Symptoms to Watch For—And How to Heal If Exposed

Mold-related health problems are very real and affect many people every single year. To make matters more complicated, mold issues are often misdiagnosed, undiagnosed, or left untreated in conventional medicine. So, let’s break down mold toxicity, what that really means, and how to take a holistic and science-based approach to treating mold toxicity symptoms.

What is mold toxicity?

Mold is a common fungus that grows in places with a lot of moisture, such as roofs, pipes, and under wood and tile floors and ceilings. Different types of mold are around us all the time, but some are more dangerous than others and certain people are allergic to mold or sensitive to the naturally occurring toxins, called mycotoxins, that mold can emit. When you’re exposed to too much mold, mold that you’re sensitive to, or certain types of mold known to cause health issues, it can lead to a condition called mold toxicity.

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. This is driven by mycotoxins, which can initiate an inflammatory cytokine-driven response in the body. And 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 (especially limited 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)

Tthe 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.

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. This means that doctors unfamiliar with mold and mold treatment may miss one of the main types of mold reactions—the chemical and inflammatory reaction. 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 have a reaction 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.

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 do you test for toxic mold exposure?

Ultimately, there is no simple way to diagnose mycotoxin disease. But testing is usually the first step. Start with in-home testing and a home inspection by a certified mold inspector is also recommended. In my opinion, in-home testing should only be requested once the environment has been evaluated for the source of mold. The most direct way to test for mold toxicity is a urine test that measures mold metabolites and mycotoxins, as well as glutathione levels (which can be depleted when exposed to mold). That said, never put the entire diagnosis of mycotoxin illness on testing alone.Why? Because mold testing has some major drawbacks, including:

  • False negatives and false positives are common

  • They are not covered by insurance

  • You can’t test all toxins — there are hundreds

  • The levels found on tests don’t necessarily correlate with the severity of symptoms

These tests clearly aren’t perfect. In fact, there are people who have been really sick but showed almost nothing in the test, while healthy spouses of those same people register values off the charts, so having a clinician who is willing and able to do additional research on the symptoms of mold and toxic mold exposure is key.

How do you treat mold toxicity symptoms?

Right now, you’ll see a lot of experts recommending handfuls of supplements and strict diets but the reality is that it's uncertain whether these are the correct treatment approach. Instead, the following steps are recommended. You might be surprised to see that “killing the mold” is only one out of five. That’s no coincidence! Often the focus is not on "killing" the mold since most symptoms are due to the immune response, not the mold itself. Instead, it starts with simple lifestyle steps and using pill-free practices to achieve a state of better immune health, including:

1.Eliminate exposure

Eliminate the sources of the mold from the environment but also eliminate common dietary sources of mold, including grains, coffee, and peanut butter. This will help reduce the overall mold burden on the body.

2.Address sinus health

Since molds can colonize the sinuses, support should be sought with ear-nose-throat doctors on this as well. That said, you can also take steps to improve sinus health at home, including healing the gut since 70 to 80 percent of our immune system is located there.

3.Start a neural retraining program

Certain areas of the body are more vulnerable to mycotoxins, and the brain is one of them. Certain areas of the brain can end up in a chronic fight or flight response. No pill can fully stop this response, so we have to ‘retrain’ certain neural pathways to put the response into a ‘heal and rest’ state.

4.Lower inflammation

Taking steps to lower inflammation can help bring balance back to an overactive immune response. This means following an anti-inflammatory diet and committing to daily stress management habits.

5.Optimize detoxification

Supporting the body’s ability to bind to and eliminate toxins is a key part of healing from mycotoxin exposure. This is where supplements can be helpful. Some include antioxidants like glutathione and N-acetylcysteine (NAC), charcoal, and bitter greens, which all support the liver. It’s important to work with a practitioner experienced in mold illness, who can recommend the right supplements and doses of each.

Mold toxicity is difficult to diagnose, as many patients are pushed aside by practitioners and loved ones, and it involves more than pills for treatment. Toxic mold exposure can be a financially, emotionally, and physically stressful experience and there is no cut and dried diagnosis and treatment. It takes patience, persistence, and recognition that more treatments are not usually the answer.

The reality is that we are still in the infancy stage of knowing about toxic mold exposure and mold toxicity symptoms, and we need more research done on this to truly get a better picture of how to address symptoms of mold. The good news is that there are knowledgeable doctors within reach who are ready with a science-backed action plan to get you back to feeling your best.

You know the motto: More Action, Less Blablablabla.



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