Could invisible mould be the cause of your health issues? Exhaustion, sleep deprivation, body aches, triggered asthma, lack of motivation & brain fog are just some toxic mould illness symptoms.
I drag myself out of bed still exhausted despite sleeping for more than 11 hours. I prepare a bowl of food for my dog, and as I put it down on the floor, she looks up at me. She’s not eating. Again.
I wander into the bathroom and peer in the mirror – the stupid rash around my eyes has spread even further.
My body aches, my hair looks stringy, oily and limp no matter how much I wash it. I have zero motivation and I can’t think straight. Even stringing a sentence together is hard these days. I’m sick – really sick. And I have no idea what was wrong with me.
I’d been to the doctor four times in the last 2 months – each time I went in I was given another drug.
“Oh you’ve got a rash around your eyes? Here, use this steroid cream for a week”.
“Yeah, but – what’s causing the rash? I’ve never had skin problems.” I ask.
“Oh nothing. These things just happen.”
I have no idea what’s going on.
That is Chantelle’s story, and unfortunately a common story for many Australians. Her house was killing her and she didn’t work out how until it was almost too late….
We spend an average of 16 hours a day at home – and even more when aged under seven and over 64.
Mould may grow indoors in wet or moist areas lacking adequate ventilation, including walls/ wallpaper, ceilings, bathroom tiles, carpets, insulation material and wood. Many different types of mould exist, and all have the potential to cause health problems.
More than seven million Australians have allergies, including asthma, which is often triggered when people spend more time indoors with mould, dust mites and indoor pollutants.
The most infamous type of mould is “black mould” (Stachybotrys chartarum), which can grow on water-damaged building materials and produce toxic spores. In 1994, it was linked to a serious respiratory illness after ten children experienced idiopathic pulmonary hemosiderosis (bleeding from the lung) and one subsequently died.
Needless to say, mould is a HUGE issue here in Australia and there is not enough awareness in local communities about its damaging health effects and how to treat them properly.
How to Spot A Mould Problem BEFORE It Affects Your Health
Mould is not always easy to recognise. It often looks like ‘fuzz’ or appears to be a stain, smudge or discoloration. The most common moulds are black, green or white. However, mould can be many other colours, ranging from grey to orange to brown. Here are some warning signs that you might have a mould issue that could affect your health later on.
We insulate our houses to keep the heated or air conditioned air inside the building and forget that we thereby reduce air flow and increase the air humidity. High humidity means excess moisture in the air. This can cause mould to grow as well as encourage dust mites and other allergens to thrive. Timber furniture and building structures can also be affected by this moisture. This can result in dry rot, termite infestation and wet subfloors which also affect our air quality and our personal moods. In Australia, we allow high humidity to enter our homes when windows are left open for cross ventilation, all day or at night.
If you’ve ever smelled perfume in the air hours after you sprayed it on or cooking odours from dinner earlier in the week, your home suffers from stale odours. Whether these odours drive you up the wall or don’t bother you at all, they’re symptoms of a larger problem that you can’t cover up with air freshener. Unpleasant smells that don’t seem to go away signal that your home doesn’t have adequate ventilation. Buildings left unused for part of the year, such as holiday homes, are particularly exposed to the problem of damaging high moisture content in the air. The indoor climate suffers from the closed windows and locked doors. Typical signs are stale air, musty smells and lumps in the sugar bowl.
Condensation on windows
Commonly in modern building structures, we find tightly sealed windows and doors, plus walls and ceilings sealed by vapour barriers. Here in Australia high humidity days are frequent. Traditional ventilating methods coupled with high humidity will raise moisture content in your walls and furniture. Moisture or condensation on the inside of your single or double glazing has become a sign of an unsound indoor climate.
Testing For Invisible Hidden Mould
Not all mould is visible, as contamination may be in cavities or the ceiling.
If you suspect mould contamination but cannot find the source of the problem, or if you have already taken measures to prevent mould from growing and you are still having problems, you could employ an occupational hygienist or environmental health and safety professional. For a fee, these professionals can provide specialist mould testing and consultancy services.
Places where you may find hidden mould or damp include:
- Opposite side of dry walls, wallpaper or panelling. Inside walls it often found around pipes that are leaking or condensing and drains.
- Roof materials above ceiling tiles (due to leaks or insufficient insulation) – cement roof tiles may lose their outer glaze and absorb moisture into roof spaces. Moisture in roof spaces accumulate, particularly if moist air is vented into the roof space but not allowed to escape
- Underside of carpets and pads, or curtains
- Condensate drain pans inside air handling units
- Porous thermal or acoustic liners inside ductwork
You may need professional help to find and remove hidden mould.
Mould Spores In The Air
In order to reproduce, mould produces tiny particles called spores. Spores are carried in the air and may cause health problems if inhaled by people who are sensitive or allergic to them. The mould spores are what causes majority of mould health problems. Mould is everywhere. Spores are commonly found in the atmosphere as well as in water-damaged buildings. Certain crops are also particularly vulnerable to fungal disease with corn, peanuts, beetroots and chocolate being the main ones. If you have an intolerance to these foods as well as beer and certain mouldy cheeses you may want to consider having a mould issue that should be investigated.
Mould produces biotoxins that become airborne and are either breathed in or ingested by humans. Once inhaled, these biotoxins trigger inflammatory reactions that over time initiate a cascade of health issues, from autoimmunity to hormonal imbalances.
Mould Effect On Health – Mould Toxicity Symptoms
Sometimes we don’t get the opportunity to fix mould issues before they affect our health. But the earlier you discover that mould is the cause of your health issues, the sooner you can recover.
It is important to note that some people will not experience any health problems from coming in contact with mould, while others will. It just depends on one’s immune system, mould sensitivity, and duration of exposure.
A test you can do yourself, is to leave the home for a period of time and stay elsewhere, monitoring for any changes in your health.
Most physicians are not mould literate as medical school doesn’t teach doctors to recognise the symptoms of mould toxicity and the multi-system dysfunctions that occur as a result.
Symptoms of mould illness are varied and can be different from person to person. Some of the common presentations include:
- Running or blocked nose, irritation of the eyes and skin and sometimes wheezing.
- Chronic sinusitis
- Persistent fatigue
- Brain fog
- Unexplained weight gain
- Neurological changes including loss of memory and inability to focus
- Depression, rage and quick mood changes
- Sleep disturbances
- Hormonal changes
- Joint pain
- Abdominal pain
- Autoimmunity (immune responses against own healthy cells and tissues).
- Mould infection, usually in the lungs.
The symptoms are so varied that most people with mould toxicity end up with multiple diagnoses such as chronic fatigue syndrome, inflammatory bowel disorder and depression and are subsequently medicated for each condition, without the underlying cause ever having been discovered.
Most of the time, individuals with mould toxicity are dismissed as ‘hypochondriacs’ or as having some neurological imbalance for which there is no cure. This is very sad as the correct diagnosis can mean regaining optimal health as opposed to a lifetime of misery and disability.
People with asthma, allergies, or other breathing conditions may be more sensitive to mould. For people with asthma, inhaling mould spores may cause an asthma attack. People with weakened immune systems (such as people with HIV infection, cancer patients taking chemotherapy or people who have received an organ transplant) and with chronic lung diseases (such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and emphysema) are more at risk of mould infection particularly in their lungs. This is why SolarVenti is an essential part in ventilating & mould proofing homes, workplaces, schools or aged care facilities.
Mould biotoxins also affect our nervous system. Scan of ‘mouldy brains’ reveal profound changes in the morphology of brain tissue, leading to hypoxia (lack of oxygen) and atrophy. This explains the severe brain fog, short-term memory loss, mood disorders and inability to focus and think by individuals with severe mould illness. These symptoms are easily misdiagnosed and dismissed as hypothyroidism, depression or simply ‘ageing’.
Mould biotoxins only started becoming an issue since the 1970s when fungicides were introduced in paints. This led to specific genetic mutations in fungi that led to the subsequent production of the biotoxins that are now causing these issues.
Only 25-28 % of the population carries the genetic predisposition to have a multi-system reaction to mould biotoxins. Children can also be affected, and abnormal neurological, cognitive and behavioural patterns should be investigated further if there is a history of exposure to mould.
Mould exposure doesn’t necessarily need to occur on a large scale. Individuals have been affected when the damage was small and not visible, for example a small leak from a pipe inside a wall.
The good news is that if you do find out you have mould toxicity, there are some great ways to get you better. The Shoemaker protocol is highly effective at removing mould biotoxins and rebalancing your immune system. It is a comprehensive approach that involves several highly sophisticated tests for the detection of mould biotoxins, pharmaceutical drugs and dietary changes to starve the fungi.
On a final note, if you have already been diagnosed with a Lyme-related infection or co-infection such as Rickettsia or Babesia , it is highly likely you also suffer from mould toxicity as Lyme disease patients are more susceptible to mould biotoxins.
Controlling Mould Growth – Removal & Prevention
If you can see or smell mould, you need to have it cleaned up and removed immediately, as mould can damage surfaces it grows on. The longer it grows the more damage it can cause.
Mould only grows when there is sufficient moisture. When mould appears, the first task is to try to establish where the moisture is coming from.
Some causes include:
- surface water leaking into the building
- wet building foundations (eg. rising damp)
- rain leaking in through the roof or walls
- poor ventilation
- showering, cooking and boiling without adequate ventilation (exhaust fans/open windows)
- use of clothes dryers and unflued gas heaters without adequate ventilation
- indoor plumbing leaks
- indoor liquid spills
- storing large amounts of water absorbent materials, such as books or cardboard boxes, in a damp space.
Common parts of a house that get wet or have poor ventilation are prone to mould growth, are:
- kitchens, bathrooms and laundries – due to condensation or high humidity and leaking pipes
- cupboards and corners – due to restricted ventilation
- walls or windows that are exposed to hot indoor air and cold outdoor air
- walls and ceilings – due to insufficient insulation or rain seeping through the roof.
Avoid conditions encouraging mould growth, by using heat, insulation and ventilation. The best and easiest way of reducing moisture and humidity levels is by ventilating using a SolarVenti for drying.
In addition, there are some things that you can do to help prevent mould in your home, including:
- Fix leaky plumbing and other building faults.
- Use exhaust fans or open windows in the bathroom and kitchen when showering, cooking or using the dishwasher.
- Vent clothes dryers to the outside.
- Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter.
- Clean up mould at first sign of it.
Mould removal efforts after flooding should focus on:
- removing all sources of pooled water or excessive moisture from the home
- removing all wet or flood damaged items, including wallpaper, plasterboard, carpet, rugs, bedding, mattresses, furniture, stuffed toys, clothing, and other wet or damaged materials that cannot be adequately dried or cleaned
- removing all porous (soft or absorbent) materials with mould growth
- temporarily storing damaged or discarded items outside the home (in a safe, clean, dry place such as a shed or garage) until your insurance claim is processed
- cleaning and disinfecting all affected surfaces inside the house, including floors, walls, the kitchen, bathroom and laundry
- allowing the house to dry throughout by airing or active drying (for example, using fans or dehumidifiers once safe, reliable power has been restored to the property).
- Air conditioning or central heating should not be used unless they are undamaged and uncontaminated by the floodwaters. If you suspect contamination with mould or floodwaters, do not use until these systems have been cleaned and checked by a qualified person.