Mold Illness: What It Is and Hidden Signs You Have It

Mold: we can find it thriving in all sorts of places. From foods that have gone bad to a damp towel that never dried, mold can live anywhere there’s moisture. Certain types of mold are not harmful, however, sometimes mold can be toxic and make you very ill. Read on to find out about the warning signs of mold disease and how to mold proof your home.

What is Mold?

“Mold” is a word used to refer to different kinds of microscopic fungi that grow and live among moisture.

These fungi reproduce rapidly by creating spores, and can be various colors ranging from grey to green, blue and even red. Molds can grow in size quickly, so a small spot of mold can turn into a sizeable colony within hours.

The spores of mold contain toxins and can remain dormant but viable even in dry, cold conditions where mold itself may not be able to thrive.

Common Mold Sources

Since mold loves moisture, it can be found wherever there is (or was) water. A bathroom with low ventilation, a humid basement, the cracks of a shower stall, and the area under a leaky sink are all common areas where mold may be found. However, mold may lurk in places you cannot see. Even your coffee maker can be full of mold.

If you have a pipe behind your wall that is leaking, mold could be growing and thriving right behind your drywall. A leaking roof above a well-sealed ceiling could lead to an upper crawlspace covered in mold and spores. Another place mold may lurk is behind or beneath large appliances (fridges, ovens, washing machines, etc.).

Certain plants can even serve as hosts for mold: Christmas trees, in particular, breed mold and may be the reason for an uptick in asthma attacks during the winter months. Even when the tree has been removed, the spores from the mold will be dispersed into the air and left in your home long after the tree has been disposed of.

Why Mold is Dangerous to your Health

According to information released by the Environmental Protection Agency, mold of all types can be hazardous to the health, with “black mold” being the most dangerous of all.

Some people are even more susceptible to mold illness, as they have a certain gene (the HLA-DR gene) that causes them to have an immune reaction when exposed to mold.

Chronic mold exposure can lead to sinusitis and an illness called Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome. Both of these illnesses may potentially be misdiagnosed or poorly treated, as many mainstream medical professionals do not recognize the connection between mold and these conditions.

Fungal sinusitis

Research emerged in the late 1990s showed that sinusitis is sometimes caused by a fungal infection. In cases of chronic sinusitis that do not improve with antibiotics or decongestants, ENT doctors suspect that the body’s immune system is reacting to a fungal invader, causing the sinus cavities to remain irritated.

For more information on sinus infection, read my articles about the best home remedies for sinus infection and on how to use grapefruit seed extract to beat sinus infection.

Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome

Mold toxicity falls under the larger category of biotoxin illness, also known as Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS).

CIRS is a chronic condition because it is an ongoing illness. Although caused in part by mold, it is not an allergy! It starts when a person is exposed to a biotoxin, the technical term for a poison produced by a living organism.

If a body responds to these biotoxins in the standard way, the impacted person does not develop a chronic condition because the immune system responds to the poison by binding it with cells that allow the biotoxin to be filtered by the liver, kidneys, and other organs. For those with certain gene types, this binding does not happen, so the biotoxin continues to circulate within their bodies.

According to a mold disease expert, Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker, 24 percent of people cannot make adequate antibody responses, and they’re the ones that comprise the majority of people who have an illness from water-damaged buildings.

Indeed, your chronic sinus infections and “winter allergies” may actually be a mold illness in disguise.

Signs and Symptoms of Mold Disease

The ways that mold disease manifests itself are varied, but a 2003 study of more than 1,600 fungus-exposed people presented at a Dallas environmental medicine symposium found some common themes. Tiredness, difficulty breathing, memory problems, headache, and pain or discomfort in muscles and joints were the most common symptoms of mold illness.

Other signs may include:

  • Gastric disturbances (vomiting and diarrhea)
  • Weight loss
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Hair loss
  • Rashes on the skin
  • Chronic cough, coughing blood
  • Visual problems and blindness
  • Cold-like symptoms (itching eyes, runny nose, sore throat)
  • Loss of sense of smell
  • Frequent urination, kidney pain
  • Tremor
  • Depression and anxiety

What to Do if You Have Mold in Your Home

If you discover a mold issue in your home, take immediate action to avoid becoming ill down the road.

Clean up any mold in your home with an anti-fungal cleanser – try these natural bleach alternatives or learn how to use hydrogen peroxide to fight mold.

Pay special attention to the crannies where molds may hide, like the shower door area. With small-scale mold problems, using an air purifier (like this one) can provide some protection from toxins.

If your mold problem hides behind walls and is more extensive than a sponge-and-spray can handle, contact a mold remediation specialist to learn more about how to deal with the problem. In all likelihood, you will need to tear out walls or ceilings, replace moldy wood and insulation, and fix any leaks or cracks that allow moisture to hide in your home.

Mold remediation can be quite costly, but the price is well worth it when your health and your life are on the line.

The process may also be lengthy, but the wait is worthwhile when you can sleep easily, knowing the air you are breathing is free of mold and spores.

The first step is confirming the presence of mold in your home with a test kit (like this one). Once you know the type of mold and extent of its spread in your home, you can take steps to remediate the issue.

How to Mold-Proof Your Home

You can help to ensure your home stays mold-free by taking a few simple steps to keep it clean, dry, and in good repair. Here are some things you can do to stop mold before it starts:

Fix leaks promptly and seal any cracks in the home, especially in moist areas.

Clean up and thoroughly dry any spills or other water damage quickly—within 1-2 days.

Consider purchasing a dehumidifier and running it during damp weather or anytime the home feels humid.

Open windows and doors on dry weather days to allow good ventilation within the home.

Use a bathroom vent fan or crack a window open when showering and directly afterward—until the air in the room feels dry.

Always vent moisture-producing appliances (stoves and clothes dryers) to the outside.

Keep damp areas tidy and be watchful for molds in areas where water accumulates.

Read these related posts:
1. The Best Natural Bleach Alternatives
2. Your Coffee Maker Is Full of Mold – Here’s How to Clean It
3. Discover 11 Amazing Uses For Hydrogen Peroxide


Healthy and Natural World