For Chronic Illness Triggered by Mold, Recovery Is Not Always Linear
By Erin Porter
“How long does it take to heal?” This is a very common question, especially when it comes to mold-triggered illness. When you lose your health and sometimes even your home and belongings to mold exposure, it can be one of the scariest and even one of the most traumatic events you experience in your life. Once the path to healing finally begins, the quickness and smoothness with which recovery and healing will occur is always top of people’s minds. I know firsthand the agony of wanting the scary symptoms to stop and to just feel “normal” again. Unfortunately, healing is usually not an overnight process, and often there are roadblocks or bumps in the road. The good news is that recovery from chronic illness is not linear; bumps are not setbacks but reasons to look deeper into your environment, diet, or body for answers that will get you moving in the right direction again.
Recovery Starts With Finding Your Cause
The concept of recovery, of course, is different for everyone. Most people spend many years not knowing the exact “cause” of their illness which makes it tougher for true healing to begin. When talking about mold, there are many factors to consider when evaluating recovery time. Some of those factors include:
- The type of mold you were exposed to:
- The length of the exposure,
- And how well you are adhering to the very practices that can facilitate healing.
In my instance it would take almost two decades before I would get a diagnosis that would blow the doors off of my understanding of how my body broke down. Before that diagnosis however, I would continue to acquire and be diagnosed with diseases/illnesses for which mold-related sickness is notorious for mimicking.
Mold, The Great Mimicker
The symptoms of mold-triggered illness are widespread and can affect every system in the body. Mold disrupts the body down to the cellular level, and when someone has a fungal colonization or infection, there can also be mycotoxins (fungal poisons produced by some molds) released by fungus inside of the body. This happens most often in cases of sinus or intestinal colonization. As you can imagine, such systemic disruption can cause all sorts of symptoms that mimic other more well-known illnesses and diseases. For example, before I was diagnosed with a fungal infection, I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue, chronic sinusitis, including four sinus surgeries, muscle, nerve and joint pain, Gerd, heart arrhythmias, recurring Epstein Barr, an autoimmune disease, and more. Even though each diagnosis started me on a path to treat the immediate symptoms, each kept me further from finding the cause of all of the symptoms in the first place! And, speaking of mold as a mimicker, it has been documented since the 1950’s that mold is known to mimic cancer.
Is Mold Your Cause?
Now are you are starting to understand why it’s so important to rule out mold as your cause to get the right treatment? Otherwise, most of us are sure to get stuck on the never-ending hamster wheel of treating symptoms with antibiotics, surgeries, and prescription medications rather than attacking the “cause” which just may be a systemic fungal infection or mold toxicity.
I was fortunate to have a mold-literate doctor who knew to look for mold. Both Aspergillus and Curvularia, as well as visible yeast were cultured from swabs of my sinuses and throat by my Ear Nose and Throat doctor, Dr. Donald Dennis. Aspergillus and Curvularia both produce mycotoxins and are not typical of nasal ecology unless you are inhaling them in higher concentrations from a moldy indoor environment. But you can’t always stop with just looking to your environment as your only exposure. We also swallow mycotoxins in the form of antibiotics, which are derived from mold metabolites, and eat them in the form of contaminated food such as wheat, corn, and peanuts. These foods are notorious for having high amounts of mold. Thus, when looking for your cause, it is helpful to consider and to limit all of your mold/fungal exposures to fully recover. More on that later, though.
Determining if Your Symptoms Are Mold-Related
Consider testing for mold. You can begin with inexpensive mold test plates. These mold test plates are designed to give you an idea of the fungal load in your home, car, or office in just five days. If your test plates prove to have a large fungal count you can even go the extra step of testing for mycotoxins to see exactly what your toxic exposure level is. This does cost extra but will give you the information about your mycotoxin load and which mycotoxins are present, so you are no longer guessing.
If you have not watched the television program “Know The Cause” I suggest you get acquainted with it. The host Doug Kaufmann has studied mold and its serious health effects on humans for almost fifty years. His mantra is “FUPO” Fungus until proven otherwise. Part of his mantra is to tell his audience that you can start eating in a way and living in such a way “as if” you have a fungal infection. The theory behind Doug Kaufmann’s diet is to starve and eradicate the fungi and yeasts that are to blame for causing so many of our health issues. I have hundreds of “Kaufmann Diet” approved recipes on my website Eat, Pray, Get Well. You can also watch one of my interviews on “Know the Cause” where I discuss my battle with mold illness.
Doug Kaufmann also suggests rotating natural antifungals about once a month as a sort of mold litmus test to see if your symptoms subside. The reason for rotating them is due to the sneakiness of fungi and their ability to survive. Fungi can eventually become less affected around the antifungal once they are used to it. There are many great choices of antifungals you can purchase over the counter such as oil of oregano, clove oil, olive leaf, garlic, and one of my favorites CitriDrops Dietary Supplement that can also be used for irrigating your sinuses, which is important for lessening the fungal load in your body. Probiotics are also important to restore balance to the microbiome in your gut. When exposure to mold has been prolonged, prescription antifungals may also be necessary for a short time such as Diflucan, Sporanox, Voriconazole, Nystatin, and others which you can discuss with your healthcare provider, who is hopefully knowledgeable about fungus. I suggest finding another doctor if your doctor does not understand the link between fungi and illness.
Healing Your Body
If you were lucky enough to find your cause early, you can get straight to work healing your body. First, if you are knowingly still living or working in a moldy environment, true healing is almost impossible. All efforts will be wasted on simply trying to reduce your symptoms—which will only be temporary. (Reducing symptoms is still a good idea until you can leave an unhealthy environment.) It is also important to note that 90% of mold does not cause harm to the body, meaning it does not trigger the immune system to cause inflammation and illness. Nevertheless, almost one quarter of the population is genetically predisposed to having an immune-triggering, bad reaction to mold. Because mold is everywhere, and we can’t escape it entirely, mold-sensitive people need to know ways to combat it and keep their fungal load low. Micro Balance Health Products makes a whole line of safe, botanically-derived environmental products to treat your indoor air and belongings. Something I do routinely is fog my home with a safe anti-fungal.
It is odor free and also happens to be anti-bacterial. It is important to reduce the fungal load where you spend most of your life, and for most of us that is our home. There is also an Environmental Treatment Protocol designed by Dr. Dennis that is great to use as a reference for controlling indoor mold counts.
Detox those fungal poisons from your system! Please read my article where I discuss the importance of detoxing and addressing biofilms, it’s a very necessary step in riding your body of mycotoxins and helping to process them out through your liver. Additionally, if you leave the moldy environment, are eating an antifungal diet, and have taken steps to detox from the mold, but are still not recovering, you may need to find a doctor skilled with treating mold and environmental illness who can help you to dig in a little further, or who can prescribe prescription antifungals like I mentioned earlier in this article.
Final note, because I am sensitive to mold (as 25% of us are), I will spend the rest of my life working to keep my fungal load down in my environment and in the foods I eat, so that I may stay well. That may sound daunting to some, but when I reflect on a time in my life when I was so sick that I prayed to still be alive to witness my son board the school bus for kindergarten for the first time, a little mold maintenance is a small price to pay. At the time, I felt my body breaking down and wasn’t sure what my future held. I have come a long way in my recovery now.
My son just turned sixteen, and I feel wonderful, healthy and I have a life full of energy and joy rather than weakness, fatigue, and a plethora of scary symptoms as a part of my daily life. In other words, healing is not always quick and without hurdles, but it IS possible. (You can read more about me and my story HERE.)
I hope this article gives you hope. God designed these bodies to heal and if we get out of our own way, we can speed up that healing process. My book Eat Pray Get Well – A Journey from Chronic Illness, Brokenness & Junk Food Junkie to Wholeness & Wellness is now on shelves. The forward was written by Doug Kaufmann, host of television show “Know the Cause”. If you would like to read my full story of my journey from chronic illness to wellness, it can be found on my website. My book is also available for purchase on Amazon.