The Debilitating Path Of Mold Illness
By Cesar Collado
Patients treated for mold-related sickness often discuss the long and difficult path both they and their families had to endure prior to a correct diagnosis. The path to wellness is often fraught with peaks and valleys, debilitating symptoms, and many sacrifices. There are no simple medical solutions or quick fixes, and treatment is filled unconventional and more naturopathic therapies. Patients must identify the source of their sickness, remediate the mold or get out of their living space, and slowly remove the pathogens and toxins from their bodies.
Since I have had the opportunity to work directly with Dr. Dennis (ENT), I asked him if he would provide his mold patients with the two following open-ended questions with the intent of gathering personal stories of diagnosis and recovery:
- In thinking about your medical history, please describe the steps undertaken to discover and treat your mold related illness?
- Reflecting on your path to wellness from mold sickness, what would you have done differently related to your medical treatment?
While I had expectations of what we would learn from their answers, the actual responses blew me away and left me deeply empathetic for the plight of these patients.
I would like to share some of these incredible stories, so that readers might relate to or identify with these patients. I’d like special attention to be paid to the “sleuthing” that was necessary for the Physician to identify the problem, as well the steps required for the patient to achieve wellness and get their lives back.
- Rebecca described her early illness with a loss of energy, coupled with migraines and weight gain. She described gaining 10 lbs when only consuming 1200 calories a day. She also cited being depressed, because no one could diagnose her accurately, believe her regarding her suffering, or successfully treat her. Ultimately, after some investigating by Dr. Dennis, it turned out that the culprit was her shower. The shower opened up to her master closet, releasing steam directly into the closet. All of her clothes were contaminated with mold! She cleaned and sealed her bathroom, fixed the attic and bathroom ventilation, cleaned all clothes with EC3 Laundry Additive, and now regularly fogs her closet and clothes with EC3 Mold Solution Concentrate to remain well. In addition, Dr. Dennis and Rebecca also identified that a fiberglass allergy in her sinuses was contributing to the damage. Rebecca identified the fiberglass source. Dr. Dennis also showed her the damage in her sinuses, and a place where “he could see the brain” through the damaged tissues. Dennis treated her with Maximum Therapy (antifungal rinsing, nebulizer, amphotericin B drops topically in the sinuses, oxygen, supplements, remediating the home, antifungal diet, HEPA air filtration, and other specific treatments). She now wears a mask in situations where she cannot control the indoor environment and avoids work that stirs up dust and other microscopic pollutants.
- Laura, a nurse, worked in a very moldy environment and developed GI, hormonal, and neurological symptoms. She suffered from a severe mold exposure when construction work disbursed mold throughout the air. This led to 24 hours of acute pain in her sinuses, prior to treatment. She took evidence of black mold to her physician, who dismissed the notion. She continued to have symptoms; but then attributed the symptoms to menopause. After years of suffering, she finally found Dr. Dennis. He placed her on Dr. Dennis’s Mold Protocol and Maximum Therapy. She also removed all carpet from her home (due to mold accumulation). She emphasized the impact of an antifungal diet and exercise to her wellness and tests for mold periodically now to stay well.
- After 2 sinus surgeries for fungal infections in 3 years, Julie sought treatment with Dr. Dennis at the recommendation of her Environmental Physician to find a way to prevent fungal infections from happening again. The previous 2 surgeries were to remove fungal infections, each from different fungi. Both surgeries failed to provide long-term relief. Julie vividly described the surgeon’s description of removing the fungus by saying that he reported scraping cheekbone under her left eye. The fungus had spread into the bone. She diligently followed Dr. Dennis’s Mold Protocol and tested her home, car, and work for mold. Ultimately, she hired a mold remediation/HVAC specialist to remove the mold circulating in her house and to control the humidity.
- Debbie, an ER Physician, and her daughter both suffered for many years with chronic illness. She missed the mold diagnosis as the symptoms overlap with Lyme disease, and Chronic Fatigue Immune Deficiency Syndrome. Initially, she had a mold testing from a “reputable” company, where the owner assured her that mold was not causing their sickness. Only after her physician spent a night at their house did he suggest mold plate testing. (This is unbelievable dedication!) The tests were positive! She then tried various treatments to remove the mold from her home. All failed. When black mold was discovered in her daughter’s room, she immediately removed her daughter from the home; but, she had to stay in the environment with her rescue dogs. She only removed herself when she and her dogs began suffering from debilitating symptoms, further evidenced by a positive fungal nasal culture. She found Dr. Dennis and was treated with his Mold Protocol and Maximum Therapy.
- Debbie’s daughter, Jade, shared that she likely suffered from mold related illness most her life, Three diagnoses and treatments from other doctors had not helped her : 1) Persistent allergies to dust and mold that were treated unsuccessfully with allergy shots, 2) “Hypothalamus-pituitary axis dysfunction causing a cascade of immune and endocrine system abnormalities” attributed to head trauma she suffered during adolescence. 3) Chronic bacterial and viral illness for 15 years, including Lyme disease, Epstein-Barr virus, and others treated with antibiotics and antivirals. Her discovery of mold-related illness was unfortunately found, due to a long process of eliminating causes through countless physician visits and medications over a 15 year period. Two of her physicians investigated mold as a reason for her not getting better from Lyme disease; however, as previously stated in her Mom’s story, professional mold testing eliminated mold as the cause, and the focus remained on her immune and endocrine abnormalities. Only after 2 years of hail storm and water damage to their home, did she use conventional mold plate tests that were positive. She moved out of the house and began treatment from Dr. Richie Shoemaker, a mold specialist. She continued to test everywhere she was and document symptoms (migraines, light sensitivity, brain fog, exhaustion, sinus congestion and pressure). She was then referred to Dr. Dennis. Dr. Dennis identified in a CT scan that a mass was located in her right maxillary sinus. It had been present for over 10 years and only regarded as an incidental finding. The mass turned out to be a massive fungal colony. Dr. Dennis performed surgery to repair her sinuses and remove the fungus. He then placed Jade on Maximum Therapy. In this case, Dr. Dennis recommended that Jade move to a mold-free environment, taking only items that could be cleaned or laundered for mold with her. She is getting well for the first time and is in the process of moving.
These are just a handful of responses we received. I selected these stories to demonstrate how elusive a mold diagnosis can be and to illustrate the debilitating condition Dr. Dennis’s patients are in when they finally come to see him and receive an accurate diagnosis and treatment. I was astonished at how difficult the path to wellness was for many of his patients. Patients recount years and even decades of suffering with numerous physician visits that yielded no answers or solutions, medications that didn’t help, and countless dead-end referrals. The reality is that diagnosing and treating mold allergies and sickness are not part of the traditional medical doctor curriculum.
The National Treatment Centers for Environmental Disease (NTCED) states that “Mold illness, mold exposure, mycotoxin poisoning, and lead poisoning are not well understood by the medical community at large. The reason being is that these types of poisoning are more of a toxicology problem in human health, rather than a disease. Most MD’s are not equipped, or trained, in this area of medicine. Our #1 question is, ‘Why don’t more Doctors know about this?’ The fact is, they don’t teach this in medical school. The only facilities that have a grip on this area of medicine are those who are directly involved in research.”
Unfortunately, there is another reason we cannot rely on traditional physicians to diagnose mold illness. In fact, it seems unlikely that traditional physicians will diagnose and treat patients in the near future. It takes time and a calculated effort to gather the required information and tests. According to the 2016 Physician Compensation Report, which features data from more than 19,200 doctors in 26 specialties, the average time a physician spends with a patient is 13-16 minutes.
Of course, the path to recovery in these previously cited cases began with treatment by Dr. Dennis. I am sure there are many more Physicians and Naturopathic doctors who treat mold-related illness, but the total numbers are very small. Chances are that without luck or divine intervention, many people will continue to suffer from undiagnosed mold illness.
I would also like to reference recent articles that further illustrate this topic:
- For a layman’s review of Drs. Dennis and Thrasher’s medical journal article on Systemic Mycotoxicosis (http://www.sinusitiswellness.com/must-read-article-on-mycotoxin-poisoning/), in which the solutions that Dr. Dennis employs to identify, diagnose, and treat systemic mold illness are discussed. The article also describes the “sleuthing” Drs. Dennis and Thrasher did, in order to identify the root cause of the patients’ systemic illness and the added testing done to validate their findings.
- “Taking Mold off the Table” (http://www.sinusitiswellness.com/taking-mold-off-of-the-table/), describes the Mold Protocol Dr. Dennis follows to gather a new patient’s medical history. This includes blood diagnostics, and Mold Test Plates (Petri dishes) used to identify mold on the patient’s clothes and in their home, as well as the labs used to further identify the species of mold and if the mold is mycotoxin producing. While each of these tests are not scientifically conclusive alone, together they can provide clear circumstantial evidence of mold in the patient’s environment, leading to a proper diagnosis and customized strategy to achieve wellness.
Dr. Dennis and other medical providers that treat environmental illness spend a great deal of time with their patients to ask questions about lifestyle and living environments. They pay special attention to all details of the patient’s life and medical history. They also use specific diagnostic tests to identify mold on their persons, urine, and blood. They ask patients to test their indoor environments. When applicable, they also recommend remediation to eliminate the cause.
While it may come at price, helping a patient get their life back is a challenging, but rewarding endeavor for these physicians. Chances are that the total costs to the patient for treatment of environmental illness are much less than the total healthcare expenditures would be on the alternative–ongoing physician visits, medications, and diagnostics for ceaseless debilitating symptoms.
Finally, one patient had an astute observation: physicians who have suffered or whose family members have suffered from mold illness seem to be the most motivated to explore mold as the root cause of symptoms. The takeaway is, should you experience symptoms, search for providers that specialize in treating Environmental Illness. By reading their biographies, you may find that they all have one thing in common. Can you guess what that is?