Mold Related Illness Risk Factors That We All Should Understand
By Cesar Collado
I was discussing this newsletter with a colleague whose wife suffers from mold sensitivity. He shared the sentiment that, prior to his wife’s mold journey, and learning about the health dangers of high mold levels in indoor environments, “Mold was just something that formed on bread.” This statement is similar to comments I have heard from many mold patients and medical practitioners. Paired with the shared experience of spouses who do not understand their illness, because they are not experiencing the same symptoms while living in the same home environment, it is easy to see why there is so much conflicting information and confusion about whether or not mold illness is really a health concern, or merely a “fad” diagnosis.
To that end, explaining the various risk factors that make some individuals sensitive to mold and why it impacts some individuals and not others can be critical for a proper understand of the illness.
HLA DR Gene
The Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA)-DR Gene subtype’s primary function is to present antigens, to the immune system for the purpose of eliciting or suppressing T-(helper)-cell responses and eventually lead to the production of antibodies against the same antigen.
It is estimated that 25% of people in the US carry the HLA-DR mutation, making them susceptible to an acute inflammatory response when exposed to high levels of mold antigens. These people can have difficulty recovering from mold and other toxin exposures, because their bodies tend to accumulate, rather than excrete mold toxins. Allergies are also common with certain gene combinations related to mold and toxins. 10-30% of people have some form of hay fever or allergies.6. Some are allergic to mold, but many are not. The immune systems of people with the HLA-DR mutation do not adequately make the antibodies needed to deactivate and remove mold toxins. Their bodies recognize the mold, and respond to it with inflammation, but cannot effectively tag mold antigens for excretion without additional support. The toxins then get stored in fat or tissues. In some cases, they can be stored in or near the brain, which is around 60% fat. Toxins in the brain are responsible for neurological symptoms mold sufferers encounter. Brain fog, dizziness, memory issues, motor function, and headaches are just some of the symptoms. Once mold toxins enter the brain, they start to destroy neurons and interfere with hormone production due to damage to the pituitary gland, and eventually lead to many other symptoms and chronic health issues.
CellTropin provides support for the pituitary gland and stabilizes growth hormone to help the body heal. Fatigue is a common symptom that plagues chronic sinusitis patients, because inflammation and the constant stress on the immune system overtaxes and depletes growth hormone and the adrenals. CellTropin offers a homeopathic support alternative for this condition without the introduction of synthetic hormones. This is important, because CellTropin helps the body to heal itself, rather than providing “stand-in support,” like pharmaceutical bio-identical hormone supstitution, that instead tells the body that it doesn’t need to produce its own hormones for repair.
Because mold toxins can be spread throughout the body and are not tagged by the immune system, the body will deal with the foreign antigen through its normal inflammatory response that can lead to many autoimmune diseases. Inflammation is the root cause of many autoimmune disorders. Sinus Defense is transfer factor the helps the body identify most common mold species. When Sinus Defense is used, the body is more adept at tagging mold antigens immediately, so that the body’s normal T Cell response can occur and eliminate the toxins.
While this topic is unrelated to human physiology, water damage in homes is encountered much more often than many people believe. It is estimated that 37% of homes will encounter water damage that will lead to mold growth at some time. 14,000 homes suffer from water damage each day in the US. 98% of all basements have had some form of water damage.
Water damage leads to mold in many ways. When mold meets moisture and organic matter, it reproduces at alarming rates. Mold spores can eventually be released into the air which can negatively impact the indoor air quality of any home.
In particular, today’s building materials such as drywall and particle board absorb and retain water. Mycotoxin-producing molds such as aspergillus and stachybotrys are commonly found when gypsum and paper drywall is exposed to water damage. Water damage also creates an environment for bacteria to grow. Mold and bacteria often create environments where the other flourishes, creating greater risk of illness.
Testing for mold is such critical tool in the path to understand and treat mold illness. EC3 Mold Screening Test Plates provide a means to test multiple rooms in anytime inexpensively. Read more about mold testing your home from Catherine at Moldfreeliving.com HERE.
Water Damaged Homes: “Toxic Mold Syndrome,” “Dampness and Mold Hypersensitivity Syndrome” & “Sick Building Syndrome”
These terms are fairly common in medical literature with a multitude of publications in peer review medical journals. However, these are NOT medical or clinical diagnoses. They have evolved out of capturing common constellations of symptoms that are related to the situation a patient has been exposed to. Traditional physicians will likely treat the acute symptoms with traditional methods rather than treat the cause or the whole body.
These terms are actually legal terms and appear in mold litigation. The reason for this is the current absence of FDA-approved clinical diagnostics that conclusively determine mold and mycotoxins on the bodies. The immunoglobulin test used to determine if there are antibodies for specific allergens and mycotoxin testing are diagnostics that provide circumstantial evidence leading physicians who treat environmental illness to clues that lead to detoxification support and other treatment modalities.
While there has been a significant amount of literature on these syndromes, physicians who treat environmental illness recognize the constellation patterns of symptoms and treat patients based on their experience. These physicians understand the syndromes and carefully investigate a patient’s symptoms with their medical history, home and work environments, and other axillary symptoms that may accompany them. Dr. Ville Valtonen in Frontiers in immunology published that physicians consider these criteria for diagnosing Dampness and Mold Hypersensitivity Syndrome: “(1) the history of mold exposure in water-damaged buildings, (2) increased morbidity to due infections, (3) sick building (4) multiple chemical sensitivity, and (5) enhanced scent sensitivity.”
Chronic sinusitis occurs when a person has sinusitis for 12 weeks per year. It is one of the most common chronic diseases afflicting approximately 50 M people in the US. The symptoms are debilitating but must be endured for people who work or go to school. Patients with chronic sinusitis may present with the following symptoms:
- Nasal obstruction, blockage, congestion, stuffiness
- Nasal discharge (of any character from thin to thick and from clear to purulent)
- Postnasal drip
- Facial fullness, discomfort, pain, and headache (more with nasal polyposis)
- Chronic unproductive cough (primarily in children)
- Hyposmia or anosmia (more with nasal polyposis)
- Sore throat
- Fetid breath
- Exacerbation of asthma
- Dental pain (upper teeth)
- Visual disturbances
- Stuffy ears
- Unpleasant taste
- Fever of unknown origin
The cause of the sinusitis is often a virus. Unfortunately, it is the fifth most commondisease where physicians prescribe antibiotics. This is an important fact, because antibiotics will kill bacteria in the body’s normal flora making the patient more immunocompromised and susceptible to mold. Because sinusitis causes an inflammatory response, the mucous production creates an ideal environment for mold to reproduce.
Since mold is everywhere, a cycle of sinusitis occurs, where patients can go from bacteria to fungal infections following courses of therapy. If the patient develops fungal sinusitis, they are then susceptible to mycotoxin poisoning.
An Ear, Nose, and Throat physician can accurately diagnose chronic sinusitis, complications, and any physical obstructions or repairs required to restore normal breathing function. The appearance of nasal polyps or fungal obstruction may require functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS). Fortunately, today, the surgery is minimally invasive by operating through the nose from the inside of the sinuses and requires minimal recovery time.
Immune System Compromised Individuals
A smaller number of people in the US are immunocompromised. It is estimated at around 11 M in the US. There are a number of different diseases such as cancer, asthma, autoimmune disease, and others that leave a person’s immune system vulnerable. This is sometimes caused by medicine they are taking to battle diseases. We all hear the side effects on commercials for these medicines on TV.
In addition, normally healthy people can be immunocompromised by the nature of their condition. Pregnant women are vulnerable. Children whose immune systems are not yet developed, and elderly people are vulnerable.
Why Should We All Care?
Empathy and Understanding
It is very common for only a single member in a family to have one of these risk factors for mold sickness, while others in the household do not. HDLA-DR mutations aren’t necessarily hereditary. It is hard for many people to believe in the symptoms if they are not experiencing them. I have heard many stories where marriages break up, or people live in misery, because the others in the home do not believe in the illness. Simple comments about one’s inability to function, earn, or contribute to family activities can be hurtful and devastating for the sick loved one. These people do not have hypochondria nor are they uninterested or lazy. They are debilitated.
Traditional doctors will likely not diagnose mold illness. Rarely, in a 10-15-minute appointment, will most doctors thoroughly ask questions about the patient’s medical history and environment required for a proper mold diagnosis. Unfortunately, the burden to find a physician or integrative medical professional to treat mold illness lies on the patient or their families. A great deal of time, money, specialist referrals, unnecessary imaging and diagnostic procedures, misdiagnosis, and unnecessary medicines may significantly lengthen the path to wellness.
All of the risk factors discussed are mutually exclusive. This means that a person who has one risk factor, may not have the others. However, on the flip side, a person could have some or all of the factors and still be fine or asymptomatic.
Dr. Dennis has mentioned to me that virtually all of the severely ill patients with mycotoxicosis will test positive for the HLA-DR mutation, have a mold issue at home, and test positive for mold allergies.
Another possibility is that one person in a family can have one allergy, while another has a different one. Some patients have them all. It cannot be determined if or when someone with a risk factor will become ill.
The one thing a person can control is to determine if their home has been water damaged and properly access the home to make appropriate repairs. Even with a water damaged home, there is a short-term solution that can buy time to get a house fixed or to move. Fogging with the EC3 SAN+TIZER Fogger and EC3 Mold Solution Concentrate can reduce mold spore counts in the air dramatically.
There also exists different types of experimentation that are less expensive than a physician visit, and much less than a series of diagnostics and diagnoses. They involve removing mold prior to the physician visit. For minimal investment, you might find a solution prior to embarking on medical journey and meeting your deductible.
- Fogging a home and seeing if you feel better will tell you intuitively if mold was the cause of your symptoms.
- Leaving the home for an extended stay in a safe environment will tell you if you feel better.
- Rinsing the sinuses with CitriDrops Dietary Supplement 2X per day in a nasal wash system is the single most effective means of removing the very spores or toxins that are making you sick.
So, as you can see, it doesn’t have to be complicated to be helpful for your health or the health of a family member.
- Worldometers, US Population Live. Nov 9, 2018. http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/us-population
- Ciecko, Cheryl, “Genetic Testing for Mold Sensitivity – The HLA-DR Gene”. Avoiding Mold, January 17, 2017
- “Water Damage by the Numbers”, www.Waterdamagedefense.com
- Itzhak Brook, MD, MSc; Chief Editor: John L Brusch, MD, FACP, “Chronic Sinusitis”, Medscape eMedicine, https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/232791-overview#a7
- Kahn, Laura. “The growing number of immunocompromised”, Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Jan 6, 2008
- Smith Yolanda, Epidemiology of Allergies” News Medical Lifesciences. August 23, 2018
- Valtonin, Ville. “Clinical Diagnosis of the Dampness and Mold Hypersensitivity Syndrome: Review of the Literature and Suggested Diagnostic Criteria”. Frontiers in Immunology. Aug 10, 2017