Poop, parasites, viruses–we can talk about these all day long and never bat an eye. But as your functional medicine practitioners, there’s one thing that truly makes us cringe: mold.
Really? A little mold? What’s the big deal? Well, the thing about mold is….actually there’s a lot of things that make it super frustrating:
1. Symptoms are vague, and usually present like a million other things, until you rule all the other things out and finally land on mold. Chronic fatigue, nasal congestion, sinus issues, gut issues, autoimmune disease, cancers, asthma, neurological changes, sleep disorders, hypersensitivities, skin conditions, hormone imbalances, infertility, joint pain, etc. I could go on for days–mold really shows no mercy.
2. It can be really, really hard to detect. Many people will completely rule it out because “our house is brand new”, or “I’ve never seen mold anywhere”, or just because they see it as an issue that only happens in poorer households, or those with hygiene issues.
This is so far from the truth. In fact, estimates show that up to 70% of homes, regardless of age, have mold infestation somewhere in the house. Living near a body of water (looking at you, lake people), history of ANY sort of water leakage (even a small drip), humid climates, and poor ventilation all increase the risk of mold growth.
Even if we do have concerns about mold, the best inspectors on the market may still miss it! We’ve seen instances where the mold growth was behind drywall that never showed signs of moisture–it’s nearly impossible to find unless you happen to be remodeling! So, a clean bill from the inspector doesn’t necessarily rule it out. One important clue to help guide you–take a vacation away from your home or office that you suspect might have mold. If you feel better while you’re gone, but then worse again when you come back, you should be suspicious of undetected mold.
Patients themselves can be tested for elevated mycotoxins (toxic mold metabolites), but these are not routinely run on every patient–so unless you’re intentionally looking for it, you won’t just happen upon it.
3. Treatment options are limited, especially if getting out of the environment isn’t a possibility. As a practitioner, it’s not easy to tell a patient that things likely won’t get better unless they remove themselves from the mold. Quitting a job, moving, or having expensive renovations performed is often not a realistic option. But remember, the dose makes the poison. Are there things we can do to help support your well-being even if you’re still being exposed? Sure. Helping patients to optimize their detox pathways, minimizing exposure, enhancing the body’s immune response, and providing supportive measures for symptom relief may all make a big difference. But ultimately, a patient may never feel true relief (or remain well) if they continue to be exposed.
So. Like I said–cringe.
Finding mold or being diagnosed with mycotoxin illness does not mean things are hopeless, despite the challenges that come with it. We are learning more and more every day about the issue and so many people have found themselves on the better side of mold illness since finally discovering the root of their issues.
Keep an open mind and know that mycotoxin illness could potentially be behind the symptoms that just won’t go away for good. See a functional medicine provider you trust, and don’t let others doubt that this is a true issue–it’s not in your head!
To dig even deeper, check out the Surviving Mold website: https://www.survivingmold.com/resources-for-patients/environmental .