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5 Misconceptions About Mold Illness

sick dog with ice pack on head - Homebiotic - Mold Illness

With something as complex as mold illness, we are bound to run into some confusion. Have you ever considered what the misconceptions about mold illness might be?  What we call mold illness is actually a complex syndrome called Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS). People exposed to mold are actually responding to the mycotoxins that mold secrete. These mycotoxins are a biotoxin that causes several changes in the immune system, affecting several organs in the body.

Mold growth - Homebiotic - get rid of mold

The symptoms of mold illness are the same as CIRS (1,2). These symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Weakness and Fatigue
  • Memory problems and difficulties with concentration
  • Dizziness and nausea
  • Muscle aches and joint pains
  • Feeling sick after exertion
  • Hypersensitivity to bright lights, blurred vision, red eyes, and tearing
  • Cough, shortness of breath, chronic sinus congestion, and asthma
  • More static shocks than usual

People need to know the facts about mold illness to understand the causes and symptoms and eliminate confusion. In this way, people can get the proper diagnosis and treatment they need for CIRS. What’s important to understand is that mold illness, or CIRS, is poorly understood by many people, including some health practitioners. In this article, we’ll look deeper into this issue and talk about the 5 misconceptions of mold illness.

doctor checking boy with stethoscope - Homebiotic - mold illness1) MOLD ILLNESS, OR CIRS, IS NOT JUST CAUSED BY MOLD

Even though we call it mold illness, there’s more to this condition than just mold exposure. Mold illness is actually a systemic response to the biotoxins in mold. However, these biotoxins are not limited to mold alone. They can be found in several other substances, infections, and chemicals (2,3,4).

We call it mold illness because when CIRS is set off by mold, it requires a specific response in order to treat it. This response includes dealing directly with mold removal or getting the patient away from the mold source.

However, CIRS can also be caused by other biotoxins such as (2,3):

  • Exposure to bacteria and the parts of certain bacteria (actinomycetes, endotoxins, and hemolysins)
  • Different species of fungi
  • Inflammagens (external irritants that cause inflammation)
  • Beta-glucans (sugars found in the cell walls of yeast, bacteria, fungi, and some plants)
  • Microbial volatile organic compounds

Lastly, biotoxins can be found in some infections induced by ticks, fish, and insect bites (2). This is why many people diagnosed with mold illness tend to have other issues like Lyme disease (1,2,3). Babesia and Borrelia, bacteria transmitted through tick bites, can also secrete biotoxins that can have adverse health effects.

female friends gathering - Homebiotic - mold illness is common2) CIRS IS ACTUALLY A COMMON HEALTH ISSUE

Although there’s been confusion about this condition, CIRS is common and affects up to 25% of the population. Three conditions must be met to develop CIRS: a genetic predisposition, an inflammatory event, and exposure to biotoxins (2,4,5).

Those with a genetic predisposition may develop CIRS after prolonged exposure to biotoxins. However, research shows that an inflammatory event, like a chronic viral illness or tick-borne illness, is also required to trigger the immune system towards the development of CIRS (2-5).

Not everyone will be genetically inclined towards CIRS. Still, most of us have been exposed to inflammatory events (like viral illness) and biotoxins. This makes the development of CIRS rather common.

When it comes to mold exposure, most of us have been in contact with mold either in our homes or at work. Unfortunately, mold is increasingly common in urban buildings due to their airtight construction, excessive dampness, and cellulose-containing materials that mold like to feed on. All three of these conditions are what mold needs to grow (1,6).

A report on mold and dampness put out by the WHO shows that up to 20% of buildings in Europe, Canada, and the United States had excessive dampness. However, other studies show that mold and dampness may affect approximately 50% of homes. These numbers may be higher in poor neighborhoods where households are crowded, and the heating and ventilation system is inadequate (1).

A report on mold and dampness put out by the WHO shows that up to 20% of buildings in Europe, Canada, and the United States had excessive dampness. However, other studies show that mold and dampness may affect approximately 50% of… Click To Tweet

With this level of mold and dampness, it’s no wonder that CIRS is more prevalent than we realize.

medical record paper - Homebiotic - mold illness is often misdiagnosed3) CIRS IS OFTEN MISDIAGNOSED

As we’ve discussed above, up to 25% of the population is genetically susceptible to CIRS. Also, mold is a risk for 20-50% of all homes. Lastly, most people have been exposed to some kind of inflammatory event. This means that CIRS may be quite common in the general population.

However, CIRS is challenging to diagnose and is often missed. In fact, many health practitioners may not even be looking for it. The symptoms often overlap with other illnesses, and they’re also non-specific. This means that the symptoms don’t conclusively point to CIRS. Also, testing is poorly understood and not widely available (2-5).

The exact biotoxin that people have been exposed to must be understood and isolated to secure a diagnosis. In the case of mold, the environment needs to be tested to ensure there was an actual exposure to mold (1,6).

Until now, most mold tests look at only 5-30 species of mold, but since there are thousands of mold species, these mold tests may be falsely negative (7). Thankfully, Homebiotics has created a new product that tests for over 30,000 species of mold. With more specificity, mold exposure can be adequately diagnosed and treated.

The other requirements for diagnosing CIRS are: identifying a genetic haplotype, having biomarkers consistent with neuroimmune, vascular and endocrine abnormalities, and a positive visual contrast sensitivity (VCS) test. The VCS test shows problems with the retina that are highly specific to biotoxin damage and CIRS (2-5).

Many of these diagnostic criteria can be challenging, and not every practitioner has the capacity to do the testing and follow up required. This means many people with CIRS are misdiagnosed with other overlapping illnesses with similar symptoms.

black mold under wall paper - Homebiotic - how to get rid of mold4) FIRST STEP IN TREATING MOLD ILLNESS (CIRS) IS MOLD REMEDIATION

As discussed above, part of diagnosing CIRS is to understand the biotoxins involved. If mold exposure is suspected, then it’s essential to test for mold in the patient’s environment. Once a proper test is completed, then mold removal is the next step.

Unfortunately, removing mold can be difficult if you don’t know where to look for it. Most mold is visible, but sometimes it isn’t. For example, a lot of mold growth happens behind drywall or bathroom tiles, which can often be inaccessible without significant renovation.

Unfortunately, removing mold can be difficult if you don't know where to look for it. Most mold is visible, but sometimes it isn't. For example, a lot of mold growth happens behind drywall or bathroom tiles, which can often be… Click To Tweet

Many times, removing mold can be costly, and if you don’t know how to prevent mold growth, it can quickly grow back. Sometimes this means that many people have to leave their home environments due to the cost and confusion of mold removal. All of these factors can make the removal of mold exposure very challenging (1,6).

People need to know how to prevent mold so they can stop mold exposure in the future. This involves prohibiting dampness, increasing airflow, and cleaning up clutter around areas known to have contact with water. Also, when possible, any water leaks need to be repaired properly (1,6).

smoothie bowl inside papaya with berries - Homebiotic - ways to detox mold illness5) TREATING MOLD ILLNESS (CIRS) IS MORE THAN JUST REMOVING MOLD

Since there are many biotoxins other than mold, it’s essential to look for other overlapping biotoxin exposures. As mentioned before, some people with CIRS may also have Lyme disease or chemical biotoxin exposures. It’s crucial to uncover this if a person shows potential for CIRS.

If mold is the biotoxin in question, removing the mold or removing the person from the moldy environment is the next step. However, the problem is that people with CIRS have a genetic predisposition that makes them unable to clear and remove biotoxins from their bodies. This means it can take a while before they can detox from their mold exposure (2,3).

The process is complicated and requires specific chemical binders to pull the mold out of their bodies. It also requires dietary and lifestyle changes to improve their ability to detoxify. In a perfect world, all physicians would know how to help patients remove the biotoxin build-up in patients with CIRS. Unfortunately, there are only a few that offer that service (2-5).

CONCLUSION

Hopefully, these 5 misconceptions about mold illness can help increase awareness of this health issue. We know now that mold illness is a condition called CIRS caused by a genetic predisposition triggered by an inflammatory event, followed by a mold biotoxin exposure.

Due to a genetic issue, people with CIRS can’t clear biotoxins from their bodies very easily. This makes their recovery more complicated. We also know that mold testing and removal can also be challenging for many.

In the meantime, education is vital in informing the public about what mold illness really is and what’s required to diagnose and treat it. The more this education gets out there, the more that patients and physicians can advocate. When it comes to CIRS, knowledge is power.


REFERENCES

https://www.survivingmold.com

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/179769.Desperation_Medicine

https://internalmedicinereview.org/index.php/imr/article/view/718

https://www.jacionline.org/article/s0091-6749(02)00092-1/fulltext

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2791814/

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7 Ways To Keep Your Home Mold Free

You’re stuck in that cycle. You clean for HOURS then a couple days later those pesky musty odors are back! So we bet you’re wondering: How do I keep my home mold free? How do I keep those stale smells away?

Mold in the home is no joke: it can make you ill, and constantly fighting it can make you feel like you’re living in a dirty home, however hard you scrub. Your home stops feeling like a haven, and starts feeling like a trap.

Mold in the home is no joke: it can make you ill, and constantly fighting it can make you feel like you’re living in a dirty home, however hard you scrub. Your home stops feeling like a haven, and starts feeling like a trap. Click To Tweet

But maybe you need to readjust your relationship with mold. After all, mold is a natural organism that’s been on planet Earth for far longer than humans! Mold is going nowhere. Do you know what isn’t natural? An over-clean, sterile home!

While wiping down with bleach and spraying antibacterial cleaner around may seem to beat back the mold, these cleaners can actually do your environment further harm. And though it seems unbelievable, mold isn’t a problem in itself. Unsafe levels of mold is a problem – for both your health and quality of life. Controlling mold in your home is as easy at this 7 step check-list:

1. CONTROL MOISTURE & CONDENSATION

Mold adores a moist, warm atmosphere, and the right conditions are key to how it reproduces, spreads, and forms new colonies. By taking control of the moisture that enters and circulates your home, you can gain the upper hand, and keep your home – and the air you breathe – healthy. That said, if you are living in a property that has previously been flooded, it may be wiser in the long run to move.

Now is the time to consider:

  • PROPERLY REPAIRING HOLES IN YOUR ROOF OR GAPS IN YOUR WALLS1 – mold spores can come through the gaps in external walls, while a leaky roof can be all too encouraging for mold.
  • FIXING PLUMBING – while dealing with that slow drip under the faucet might not be top of your chore list, not dealing with it is a way to foster mold.
  • REMOVE WET CARPET OR OLD CARPET THAT HAS BEEN PREVIOUSLY WATER DAMAGED – it’s very difficult to remove mold from carpets.
  • REDUCE MOISTURE AROUND WINDOWSILLS – using moisture eliminating products like absorbers or traps on your windowsill if you have condensation, as otherwise mold may eat at wooden frames, or collect on PVC window seals.

2. CONTROL HUMIDITY

Mold loves humidity, and in your home it’s not enough to simply remove the sources of moisture. When you breathe out, you’re exhaling moisture, and many aspects of daily life, like cooking, and using a clothes dryer, produce more humidity.

The most straightforward thing you can do is invest in one or more dehumidifiers to help control the humidity inside your home, making it far more difficult for mold to multiply. Keeping the humidity in your house at 50% is best – it’s the sweet spot where mold growth is inhibited but not so low that it encourages the growth of harmful bacteria. Also, use an exhaust fan or open a window while you cook.

Do not install a Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV) purely for dealing with humidity – it’s a common misconception that ERVs work as a dehumidifier – they do not. Instead, they allow the exchange of heat or coolness between the air indoors and the air coming in from the outside, which can be helpful depending on the climate in which you live, but a ERV is no alternative to a dehumidifier.

3. CLEAN YOUR AIR CONDITIONING UNIT

You rely on your air conditioning unit to cool your home, and often heat it as well, and it’s easy to take it for granted. When tackling mold, it’s crucial to thoroughly clean and maintain your air con on a regular basis. Unfortunately, mold colonies can live in air conditioning ducts, meaning that the spores and toxins they emit can spread throughout your home.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommend hiring a professional to clean your air conditioner if you suspect a mold infestation2. Above all, DO NOT run your air conditioner if you suspect it contains mold – it spreads the problem to other places in your home, and potentially re-contaminate areas of your home you may have already cleaned.

4. INSPECT INDOOR PLANTS

Houseplants can harbor mold, as the moisture and warmth of the soil is very beneficial to growing mold. Although houseplants are often an easy way to improve air quality in your home, if their pots of soil have mold, the health drawbacks can often outweigh the positives.

If you have this issue, consider keeping plants outside or in a dedicated greenhouse and avoid keeping the plants indoors where possible.

5. TACKLE YOUR CARPETS

As stated above, if they have been affected by flooding, you must throw the carpet away, as no amount of cleaning can eradicate the particular water-based molds that can attach to the fibers3.

But if you have carpet in your home that you suspect has been compromised by mold, it’s crucial to clean your carpet more thoroughly, removing any mold spores. With a true HEPA vacuum cleaner, you’re able to eradicate mold spores with the powerful motor and high quality filter.

Remember:

  • To empty your HEPA vacuum cleaner outside, to avoid spreading a cloud of spores back into the air.
  • It takes time to remove all mold spores from your carpet – it’s not an overnight solution to your problem, and the vacuuming needs to be done in combination with the other items on this list before you see or feel any improvement.
  • To try to vacuum from several different angles in order to suck up as many mold spores as you can.
  • Professional steam cleaning can help keep a carpet free of irritants including mold

6. USE BORAX ON FABRIC, SURFACES AND WALLS

Borax is the best substance to use on fabric because it’s a lot gentler than bleach, but it’s also amazing on porous surfaces such as wooden furniture, worktop and table surfaces, and walls4.

Though bleach can work wonders on sinks and floors, it’s simply not suitable for combating mold. Bleach can not:

  • Kill mold on porous surfaces such as wood or drywall
  • Remove mold toxins and spores
  • Sanitize organic surfaces that mold prefers to feed on5

Unfortunately, bleach also removes the friendly bacteria that normally consume mold, potentially making your mold issue worse!

By choosing borax (sodium borate), you’re using a natural mineral to change the natural pH of the surface or fabric. The alkaline of borax disrupts the environment for the mold, making it unwelcoming. Use a combination of disposable wipes, microfiber cloths and diluted borax to clean porous surfaces. Soak fabric for half an hour in a mix of one cup of borax to one gallon of water before putting in the washer to clean. Always wash your hands after using borax.

7. USE HOMEBIOTIC TO BALANCE YOUR HOME

Mold is a symptom of an unbalanced home biome. Once any visible mold has been appropriately remediated you need to make sure you make appropriate efforts to rebalance your home, keeping away musty odors & grime. Homebiotic spray rebalances your home biome using non-toxic, chemical free probiotics. Our proprietary formula used soil-based probiotics that are safe for your family, including the furry ones!

Homebiotic Spray - Environmental Probiotics