By Kevin Carpenter,  Pharm, D

Sinus polyp.

Sinus polyp.

The medical community is just beginning to understand the health consequences of chronic mold exposures.  Common health effects reported by individuals living in moldy homes include recurring flu like symptoms, coughing, chronic bronchitis, sore throat, diarrhea, fever, headache, chronic fatigue, rhinitis, neurological symptoms, and general malaise.

Symptoms typically resolve after the source of the mold exposure is removed, although some patients may continue to express cognitive and behavioral symptoms.  This may be due to a buildup of mold and its toxins in the body.  Approximately 70 percent of people with confirmed exposure to toxigenic molds exhibit significant neurotoxicity.

This phenomenon is likely related to a specific mold toxin. It is believed, that toxins released by an indoor mold called Stachybotrys Chartarum are extremely toxic to nerve cells.  In addition to being neurotoxins, they suppress the immune system, leading to decreased levels of antibodies and lymphocytes.

Stachybotrys Chartarum (SC), is a greenish black mold that grows on material with high cellulose content, such as wood, straw, hay, cardboard, wicker, fiberboard, etc., particularly when these materials become water damaged.  It requires a fair amount of dampness to flourish.  SC is typically dark in color and wet and slimy to the touch.  It can also appear grayish or sooty, with a powdery appearance.  However, it important to remember that molds cannot be identified visually as many molds are similar in appearance.  The only definitive way to identify species is by examination of the spores under a microscope.

One of the reasons mycotoxins are so toxic is they can cross directly into your brain.  Olfactory neurons are in direct communication with your brain.  Anything you have inhaled or smelled, even if it doesn’t have an odor, can go directly into your brain via these olfactory neurons.  Mycotoxins have even been found to enter your brain via optic muscles and optic nerves.  This creates the potential for mold-induced sinusitis to lead to serious brain complications if left untreated.

Mycotoxins may have a greater effect on the brain than currently believed.  A recent study has observed that certain mycotoxins have a substantial effect on GABA receptors in the brain.  GABA receptors are the major therapeutic target of tranquilizers and anesthetist.  Mycotoxins may have a tranquilizing effect on part of the brain and a cramp-inducing effect on other parts.  This supports the claims that mold can cause chronic fatigue.

It has been suggested that molds may play a role in the development of certain diseases such as, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, and Alzheimer’s.  The truth is, when your immune system is impaired, almost anything can happen in terms of negative health affects.  When mycotoxins and other pathogens invade and colonize within the body a slew of serious chronic illnesses emerge.  Every cell and organ is affected by degeneration and necrosis with continued exposure to mycotoxins.  More studies are needed to find the link between mold and neurological disease.

If you suspect your problems are due to mold, take action immediately.  When mold exposure is left untreated, it can lead to neurological disease and that can destroy your quality of life.  Testing for the presence of mold and starting a antifungal wash regiment are the first steps to gain control over the problem.

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