Have you been grappling with mystery symptoms that seem to appear out of nowhere and stick around regardless of what remedies you try? If so, exposure to toxic mold could be the culprit.
Unfortunately, there is a growing number of people unknowingly living with or working around toxic mold – which can trigger a conglomeration of vague and unexplained symptoms. So, let’s explore what toxic mold is and how it can cause so many perplexing and frustrating symptoms.
Toxic Mold: What Is It and How Does It Grow?
Mold is found just about everywhere in nature where it functions as a kind of “clean-up crew” by breaking down dead plants and animals. Molds reproduce via tiny cells known as spores that are released into the air where they float and spread far and wide.
As these mold spores are wafted through the air, we not only breathe them in, but they can also attach themselves to our clothes, belongings, and pets. Once these spores hitch a ride into our homes, they can stick to areas with moisture – like on our carpets, ceilings, or in the nooks and crannies of our walls.1
Now, exposure to the small amount of mold spores found naturally in our environment isn't a problem in and of itself. But if the spores that sneak their way into your home belong to certain strains of mold that produce toxic compounds known as mycotoxins, it can spell trouble for your health.
What Are the Symptoms of Toxic Mold Exposure?
It’s estimated that indoor air is anywhere from 2 to a whopping 5 times more polluted than outdoor air. And mold is one of the most common pollutants that contribute to more than 50% of patients’ illnesses!2 Some of the more common health issues caused by exposure to these mold spores include:3,4
- Difficulty breathing
- Fatigue and lethargy
- Frequent chest cold
- Red, itchy, and watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Sinus inflammation
And if exposure to toxic mold is prolonged, it can escalate into more serious symptoms, such as:5
- Abdominal pain, bloating, and diarrhea
- Appetite swings and weight gain
- Difficulty concentrating
- Hair loss
- Increased thirst
- Joint pain
- Metallic taste in your mouth
- Muscle cramps
- Poor memory and confusion
- Sensitivity to light
- Tingling and numbness in your hands and feet
And what’s even more concerning is that over time, these toxic mold spores can trigger even more serious consequences for your health.
The Long-Term Effects of Extended Exposure to Toxic Mold
Mold and other fungi can hide out within your body and disrupt your immune system, which can eventually lead to long-lasting health issues. Some of the conditions that have been directly linked to long-term mold exposure include:6,7
- Balkan nephropathy
- Hepatocellular carcinoma
- Internal organ damage
- Kashin-Beck disease
- Respiratory infections
- Reye’s syndrome
- Death, in some instances
Needless to say, exposure to toxic mold is not something to be taken lightly. But what are your treatment options if you’ve been unknowingly exposed to mold?
What Are the Treatment Options for Mold Exposure?
Addressing mold exposure requires a long-term, big-picture approach. There isn’t a “cure” for mold exposure in the sense that you can simply take a medication or undergo a procedure and heal. Rather, treating mold exposure calls for a multi-pronged approach that includes:
- Cleaning up your environment
- Reducing exposure
- Amplifying detoxification
- Promoting healing
Let’s zoom in a little closer on each of these.
Cleaning Up Your Environment: How to Remove Toxic Mold
If you know you’ve been exposed to mold, your first and most critical priority is to remove yourself from the moldy environment. You cannot even begin the process of detoxification and healing if you’re still in an environment that is bombarding your system with toxic mold spores. In some cases, you’ll be able to clean up mold on your own. But sometimes, you’ll need to call in a professional.
Cleaning mold yourself would be appropriate if:8
- Only a small area is affected
- The mold is growing on areas that are easy to clean – like glass or tile
- There is growth on hard-to-clean areas, like carpet, that can be removed and replaced
- You don’t have any current health issues that will be made worse with increased exposure to mold growth
It might be time to call in a professional who specializes in mold remediation if:
- An area 3 feet by 3 feet or larger is affected
- A flood occurred that may have been contaminated with sewage
- There is mold in your HVAC system
- The mold has grown on wood that cannot be removed
- You are already experiencing symptoms of mold exposure
- You have a medical condition, such as asthma, that will be worsened around the mold
- There is a smell of mold, but you cannot find it
- You aren’t in possession of the correct tools
- You have any concerns or doubts about how to remove the mold correctly
If you determine you do indeed need help from an expert, your best bet is to seek out an Indoor Environmental Professional. Now, let’s look at what you can do if you believe that your mold growth is suitable to be removed by yourself.
How to Clean Mold and Prevent Future Mold Growth
To tackle mold in your home without the help of a professional, you’ll first want to clean all surfaces with a mold-eliminating cleaner that contains ingredients proven to neutralize and eliminate mold spores. There are several good mold remedy products available online, or you can go the do-it-yourself route by using either undiluted white vinegar or a 50/50 mixture of water and ammonia. You’ll also need to address a couple of other, easy-to-overlook places that might be harboring mold spores, such as your laundry as well as your air ducts and vents.
Once you’ve eliminated all signs of mold, it’s time to be proactive and take some steps to prevent mold growth from coming back. Some powerful steps you can take to discourage future mold growth include:9
- Control the in your home moisture by investing in a dehumidifier and keep humidity levels under 60%
- Dry wet spots quickly
- Improve airflow by opening doors and moving furniture away from walls
- Keep your basement ventilated
- Leave your bathroom fan on for 30 minutes after showering
- Dry your bathtub or shower with a squeegee
- Clean shower curtains, towels, rugs, and loofahs regularly
- Open a window or turn on a fan while cooking
- Keep areas prone to mold growth cleaned, disinfected, and dry
- Drain and unclog HVAC units regularly
- Fix leaks immediately
While you can’t be 100% certain that mold growth won’t return, being proactive can go a long way in keeping your home mold-free. Once you’ve cleaned up your environment and addressed the source of your exposure, it’s time to begin reducing overall exposure, detoxing, and healing.
Minimizing Mold Exposure: Adopting The Low-Mold Diet
If you’ve been exposed to mold, minimizing exposure to mold-harboring foods can be a pivotal piece of the puzzle. Following a low-mold diet means avoiding potentially mycotoxin-tainted foods like:
- Alcoholic beverages
- Black pepper
- Dried fruit
Click here to learn more about the low-mold diet. Once you’ve got your environment and diet dialed in, you can begin focusing on detoxing.
How to Detox From Mold Exposure
Mold and other toxic compounds can accumulate in your body – essentially bogging down your body’s natural detoxification pathways. So it can be helpful to give your body a little support in mobilizing and eliminating any mold that’s lurking within your tissues and cells. Some ways you can do this include:
- Upping your glutathione – a naturally occurring antioxidant that also serves as a master detoxifier that draws out, binds to, and transports toxins across cell membranes so they can be properly flushed out of your body.
- Supporting your liver – your body's primary detoxifying organ.
- Incorporating detox binders – molecules that magnetize and trap toxins so they aren’t recirculated.
- Prioritizing regular bowel movements – as your bowels are what shuttle trapped toxins out of your body for good.
- Trying detox-supporting therapies – like infrared sauna therapy, IV vitamin therapy, or dry brushing.
To take the guesswork out of detoxing from mold exposure, I teamed up with Dr. Christopher Shade and Quicksilver Scientific® to create a comprehensive detoxification protocol that contains many of the above strategies (and more) to specifically target toxic mold exposure. Each Miracle Mold Detox Box contains a powerful and simple-to-follow 30-day protocol that is scientifically proven to help jumpstart your body's ability to purge any accumulated mold that’s hiding out within your body and get you on the path to healing.
How to Support Your Body in Healing From Toxic Mold Exposure
Some other important ways you can support your body in healing from exposure to toxic mold include:
- Prioritize gut health – your gut is a key player in detoxification, immunity, and just about every other facet of your health
- Address underlying infections – like candida overgrowth or bacterial colonizations
- Focus on rest and relaxation – getting quality sleep is key to ensuring your immune system and detoxification pathways are firing on all cylinders
- Manage stress – mold can be highly dysregulating physically, mentally, and emotionally so it’s crucial to keep stress levels in check
Recovering from mold exposure doesn’t happen overnight. It requires a big-picture, detail-oriented, and long-term approach – which is why it can be particularly helpful to partner with a Functional Medicine Practitioner to guide you along the way.
Exposure to toxic mold can trigger a barrage of mystery symptoms that can be difficult to pinpoint. And with the combination of modern construction practices that seal our homes up tight paired with our increasingly toxic world that leaves our immune systems overtaxed – we’re becoming more and more vulnerable to the effects of toxic mold.
But the good news is, you are not at the mercy of your environment. With the right steps and a little effort, you can not only recover from exposure to toxic mold, but bolster your defenses against this stealthy intruder in the future.
Want To Catch Up With Other Articles From This Series?
Lab Tests in This Article
- Facts about Stachybotrys chartarum | Mold | CDC
- Indoor Air Quality Explained - Welcome to Austin Air Systems. Clinically Proven Air Purifiers.
- Mold Exposure: Symptoms, Treatment, Tests, Food & Harmful (medicinenet.com)
- Black mold exposure: Symptoms, treatment, and prevention (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Black Mold: Exposure, Symptoms, Treatment, and More (healthline.com)
- Long Term Effects of Black Mold | Black Mold Symptoms (sanitred.com)
- Toxic Black Mold (Stachybotrys) (moldpedia.com)
- Do It Yourself Mold Removal ........When is it safe to remove mold? (mold-advisor.com)
- How to Get Rid of Mold - The Home Depot