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Could Your Home Be Making You Sick?

Front Door of house with mold

Your Home, Mold, and Your Health

Mold. The worst four letter word in the dictionary. Toxic mold throws assaults at the immune system which eventually weakens the body by overloading it with mycotoxins causing a myriad un often perplexing and seemingly unconnected symptoms leaving those suffering from mold toxicity feeling alone and frustrated.

Consider why two individuals residing in the same house yet only one becomes ill while others seem unscathed? There's a genetic reason for this occurrence and it's not all in the sick patients head. This discovery from Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker is changing the medical community revealing the harmful, and sometimes deadly, effects of mold on the human body. Dr. Shoemaker discovered amongst many of his very sick patients that some carried an HLA-DR gene. Simply put, the HLA gene inhibits the body from tagging and removing mold from the body leaving individuals defenseless all the while accumulating harmful amounts of mold in the body. One in four individuals lacks the genetic make up to identify mold as a toxin and thus lacks to ability to detoxify it from the body. Given enough time and enough exposure, anyone is susceptible to becoming ill. With every inhale the toxic burden within becomes greater and more burdensome weaking the body and inflaming it more and more. This continues until each individuals toxic bucket becomes so full that it initiates negative chain reactions throughout the body.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) more than a quarter of U. S. buildings are water-damaged. This number is low in my opinion. As our climate is changing and our housing material becomes cheaper we find ourselves living in homes that are in essence made of the very thing that mold loves to consume (organic surfaces where there tends to be elevated moisture such as drywall, HVAC units, carpets and baseboards, and windowsills). Not only should the home environment be considered but also work environments. Then there's basements, which can harbor musty odors caused from high humidity and a lack of temperature regulation.

Repeated or ongoing exposures to to biotoxins causes Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS), a progressive, multi-system, multi-symptom illness. This inflammatory response is a full blown cytokine storm that includes a plethora of unpleasant and often debilitating symptoms that greatly affect and limit individual's quality of life. These symptoms that include:

  1. Brain Fog

  2. Headaches

  3. Muscle Twitching

  4. Joint Pain

  5. Ice Pick Pain

  6. Static Shocks

  7. Eye and skin irritation (rashes, hives)

  8. Insomnia

  9. Cough

  10. Appetite Swings

  11. Mood Swings

  12. Metallic Taste in Mouth

  13. Sinus Problems

  14. Static Shocks

  15. Abdominal Pain, Diarrhea

  16. Shortness of Breath

  17. Impaired Memory, Decreased Word Finding

  18. Vertigo

  19. Difficulty Concentrating

  20. Excessive Thirst

  21. Increased Urinary Frequency

  22. Difficulty Regulating Body Temperature

  23. Red, Irritated, or Blurry Eyesight

From the list it's easy to see how CIRS can easily be misdiagnosed leaving individuals going from physician to physician and spending thousands of dollars for answers. We dangerously underrate the toxicity and harm that mold causes and assume it's just a part of life. We see it, we clean it, we move on. What we fail to do is wonder why it is there in the first place and take appropriate measure remediate. This mentality causes us to overlook the underlying source and can cause a great deal of harm. Don't fall off your rocker if you see mold but have a greater appreciation for the destructive nature it can have on your health. The aforementioned symptoms shouldn't be taken lightly and can compound over time to produce some very negative and serious health consequences.


Diagnosing CIRS

If chronic inflammatory response syndrome is suspected but you're unsure and you desire a concrete diagnosis you can do hire a mold literate physician and have them run labs and to test for the genes HLA-DR and HLA-DQ which are indicative of CIRS susceptibility.

The following labs should be included to properly diagnose CIRS:

  • Vasoactive intestinal peptide – VIP regulates the absorption of both water and electrolytes. It is also responsible for some heart and vascular functions. Low levels in the body can cause loose stools.

  • Transforming growth factor Beta 1 – TGF Beta 1 is a protein that has important regulatory effects on the immunes system, is responsible for cell division and death (apoptosis), regulates muscle development and wound healing . Elevated numbers can cause of shortness of breath.

  • Melanocyte stimulating hormone – MSH is a group of hormones produced by the pituitary gland, hypothalamus and skin cells that controls the pigment of your skin but it also regulates cytokines and pituitary function while also controlling protective areas of gastrointestinal tract and mucus membranes of the nose and lung.

  • C4A – C4A is a group of proteins working with your immune system and are responsible for activating your neutrophil cells increasing inflammation significantly. Elevated numbers often indicate CIRS.

  • Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) – ACTH is a hormone released from the pituitary gland that regulates your cortisol levels. Levels become elevated and then drop with ongoing long-term exposure.

  • Cortisol – Cortisol is a hormone is released in high quantities when you are stressed or your immune system needs additional help. Cortisol levels may be high initially but drop over time.

  • Anti-gliadin antibodies (AGA) IgA/IgE – These antibodies are produced in response to gliadin. Usually triggered in gluten sensitive individuals, but also also affected by mold biotoxins.

  • VEGF – Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor is a substance make by cells that stimulates blood vessel formulation. In CIRS this marker is low.

  • Leptin – Leptin regulates how quickly the body will store fat in the body. Elevated levels of leptin result in fast weight gain.

  • Anti-cardiolipin antibodies (ACLA) IgA/IgG/IgM – These antibodies are proteins in the blood produced to attack foreign invaders. Elevated numbers usually indicate high levels of inflammation signifying antibodies are attacking your healthy tissues instead of the biotoxins.

  • Antidiuretic hormone – ADH is a hormone produced by the hypothalamus that regulates the water in your body, your blood pressure, and concentration of urine in your kidneys. Reduced levels lead to dehydration, increased thirst, and frequent urination.

  • MMP-9 – MMP-9 is an enzyme responsible for many different processes such as wound healing, blood vessel formation, and embryonic formation. Increased levels are a sign of CIRS.

You physician should take a full history including the last time you felt well, environments you have inhabited and worked in, your diet and lifestyle and so on. It's important to get at the root cause by conducting a full health history otherwise inflammation will only continue to perpetuate physical symptoms. A good and knowledgeable doctor is worth the time, travel, and financial resources!