Updated: Dec 11, 2019
If you are a human, you probably understand how it feels to power through a really tough time in your life. What I find so fascinating about powering through those struggles is that we often don't realize how challenging those days really were until we are out of them and are able to look back in retrospect.
That is what happened to me with mold illness.
Disclaimer: This post is not to be taken as medical advice. It is for informational purposes only. Always consult your healthcare practitioner before starting or stopping any health regimen. This post may include Amazon affiliate links that result in earning a small commission and allow this blog to continue running.
I was powering through each day of mystery symptoms and waking up every morning fully believing that that day everything would be back to normal and my health would return.
I did so much research on my symptoms and there were so many illnesses that I could attach to them. For those who don't quite know yet, mold illness can be a great imitator. I had considered that I had multiple sclerosis, a brain tumor, hashimotos, fibromyalgia, ovarian cancer, B12 deficiency, pernicious anemia and more. There are many common misconceptions that can really stop people from finding full recovery from mold, so I would like to cover common misconceptions in this post. First, for those who haven't seen my social media posts, here is my story.
My Mold Illness Story
Roughly about two years ago my health slowly started to decline. I always felt like I was fighting something. Respiratory issues. Pneumonia. Bloating. Food intolerances. Intense brain fog. Then things started getting more frequent and more odd. I started taking notes about a year ago. Not just myself either, my children too. And those who have followed me for awhile know I break my ass daily with my children’s health....and they had a chronic cough for almost 6 months.
I use zero toxic household products, personal care products, cosmetics, etc. We use homeopathic and holistic protocols only. We have a water filter, a shower filter, an $800 air filter. We eat only organic. We avoid so many bad ingredients.
We constantly boost our immune systems naturally. We juice. We detox, we cleanse, we live clean. We have thrown away old mattresses. Despite all of my measures, things were getting worse. I started having neurological issues, tingling, numbness. I got blood tests done, thyroid tests, iridology readings, muscle testing, hair sampling. Nothing really came up conclusive. I kept getting drawn to check for mold.
I had two mold inspectors come. They checked my HVAC, my whole house. They did air sampling and while they found a bit of dry mold in my attic, air samples came back clean. Something told me that wasn’t enough. I had one more mold inspector come this morning and he goes into my garage and says, “Nicole what’s this?” And it was over from there. This is what we found. A leak from our master bathroom shower that has been going on for a very long time.
Although we got a new HVAC system, they do not replace the ducts. So we fogged the HVAC ducts and the attic (where the first mold was found) with a green, non-toxic solution.
My symptoms got worse before they got better. I went to the doctor and had her run a bunch of tests. I remember the day I went in for my appointment....my brain fog was so thick, I was having trouble configuring answers to all of the doctor’s questions. I felt unstable. The tingling throughout my body was at an all-time high. I still felt a bit of weakness in my one arm. My reaction times were so slow. I would look in my side view mirror when driving while trying to switch lanes, but it took my brain time to comprehend what I was even seeing. There was such a disconnect and it was really, really terrifying. It’s like I felt like my mind was going on me, which I couldn’t think of anything more devastating than to lose that.
I was detoxing since August, even before I knew about the mold. Tests showed absolutely nothing. My results were as normal as normal gets. I got my thyroid checked twice. Complete blood counts done, mineral panel, vitamin D, etc. the only thing they messed up on was not testing me for B12. Somehow they just forgot to do it. I brought up MS as a possibility, a brain tumor and other neurological possibilities.
I also pushed my doctor for a Lyme, Epstein Bar and other cerebral tests but she did not feel that my symptoms warranted them. She did not feel like my symptoms were cerebral or neurological in nature. She felt they were systemic.
Slowly, I’ve been feeling back to my old self. I feel a tiny bit of tingling still but I realized that I’ve felt that level of low grade tingling for a very long long time and always ignored it/thought little of it. My brain feels sharp again. My reactions are quick again. I feel happy.
Almost all of my GI issues have been gone since we got rid of the mold. I have had a few minor GI troubles but it’s come a long way from everyday severe and painful gas and bloating out of nowhere to only twice in awhile and much less severe.
My kids’ chronic coughs are 100% gone in the girls and 98% gone in my son. He developed asthma-like conditions and I’m working carefully on fully recovering him from it.
All the kids have bypassed many illnesses even when my kids have come into direct contact. That never used to be the case. They would catch every single thing around. I don’t expect them to be super human, but I do pray everyday that they are able to tackle more and develop their immune systems.
Mold Misconception #1: My home is too new to have a mold issue
I feel for you if you are thinking this one, because that was me. The issue of potential mold came to me many times during this journey but I was not in the place to receive it as a possibility during those times. I thought mold was only a problem in musty basements and old homes. The truth is that mold can form just about everywhere. Mold is ubiquitous, meaning that it is all around us. You need three things for mold to growing. Moisture, food and optimal temperatures. According to Mold Blogger, Mold spores thrive in temperatures 32 and 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures from about 70-90 degrees are the most conducive for mold growth. However, mold can even grow in your freezer! Mold does not die when you drop below 32 degrees. It just lay dormant until temperatures warm up. The most favorable conditions for mold are a higher humidity over 50%, damp and dusty conditions or stagnant air.
Mold Misconception#2: No one else is sick but me, so it must not be mold
You would think this would make sense, but when it comes to mold, it's simply not the case. There are so many factors that come into play when it comes to how someone reacts to mold. First, if you have a mold allergy, you are highly susceptible to reacting to mold in negative way. Also, there is something you may have that is commonly referred to as, "The Mold Gene". The mold gene is HLA-DRB1. This gene provides instructions to your body that plays an important role in how the immune system functions. The HLA complex (human leukocyte antigen) helps the body distinguish the body's own proteins and the proteins made by foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses.
Now, I believe in epi-genetics and strongly believe that the scientifically proven theory of epi-genetics proves that our genes do not determine our health. But our environment is that determining factor, along with our lifestyle choices. Since our environment is poor when there is mold present, that mold gene is going to be switched on and active in full force. Mold is not the only environmental factor in reacting to mold. It is also dependent on what happened in utero, what you believe and think on a daily basis, chemicals you are exposed to, drugs and medications you take, methylation (MTHFR people) and how well you detox as a whole. Think of it this way. Genetics are the loaded gun and the environment you are in is what pulls the trigger. Approximately 24% of the population has a mutation in their genes that causes even the smallest exposure to mold to wreak havoc on the immune system.
Mold Misconception #3: I don't smell a musty odor, so there is no mold
Yes, that musty odor is a huge indicator of something brewing in your home, but many times mold is in a spot where the odor cannot be smelled. Behind walls, inside furniture, etc. I never smelled mold in my home. It wasn't until they found a water mark in my garage ceiling and opened it up where the pungent smell hit me like a ton of bricks. Also, some types of mold don't always have a distinct smell. I had dry aspergillius and penicillium mold in my attic also and it never smelled.
Common Symptoms of Mold Illness
Everyone will react differently to mold, but mostly everyone experiences at least one of these common symptoms of mold illness. Keep in mind that these symptoms are also similar for many other issues also. It is important to really pray, meditate and listen to your Inner Guide to get to the bottom of the cause of your symptoms. Without doing those things, I would have never pushed through multiple failed mold inspections to finally find the mold on the third attempt. I listened to my body, and it worked.
Brain Fog - brain fog is when your cognitive ability has changed. You might feel confused, disoriented and slow. My brain fog had gotten so bad that I would look into my side-view mirror to change lanes and it would take my brain several seconds to catch up to what I was seeing in the mirror. Depending on how bad your brain fog is, you might have trouble answering questions, focusing and feeling stable.
Nose & Throat Irritation - This symptom can come and go, which could lead you to believe you are starting to get sick from a virus, but it is actually mold exposure. I would often get a very sore throat in the mornings and at night, but everything would be okay during the day. I would do my usual immune boosting stuff and just always felt like I kicked a cold before it came on fully, because it would always go away. However, it would also always come back. At least once a month, sometimes twice a month. If you are constantly feeling like you are getting sick every single month, mold may definitely be something to look further into.
Gastrointestinal Issues - Hardcore bloating and gas can be a sign that your body is being thrown off by something like mold. For me, it would also come and go and I could never link it to a specific food. I really tried, too. I tried to blame so many things and I ended up cutting out dairy, wheat, coffee, corn. It would even happen after waking up and before I even ate anything at all. It would last for several days. Eventually, I lost so much weight because I was avoiding eating a lot of things in hope that I would not feel that gas and bloating anymore.
Tingling, Numbness & Muscle Weakness - This was by far the scariest symptom that I had. I would experience light tingling all throughout my body. My arms, my legs, around my mouth, anywhere. It would be on and off and there was no telling when it would happen. I also had a period of several weeks where the entire left side of my body started feeling weak and numb. I didn't even want to lift my arm at one point because it took so much out of me.
Chronic Cough - If you have a chronic, dry cough that won't go away, consider that there may be mold or allergen issues in your home. I did not have a chronic cough, but my three children did for several months. It was most noticeable upon waking up. I also developed pneumonia in the summer time, which I thought was very odd at the time. My son also developed pneumonia also. Also new asthma or other bronchial symptoms in people who have not previously had them can be an indicator of mold.
Skin Rashes - Random skin rashes that cannot be attributed to anything else may be a symptom of mold exposure. My children had random rashes around their mouths and have no history of any food allergies.
Some other symptoms of mold exposure can be depression, anxiety, aches and pains, memory loss, watery eyes, nosebleeds and hair loss.
Identifying Mold In Your Home
Look for black, clustered growths, especially in warm, moist rooms. Pay attention to whether you start coughing, sneezing, or wheezing when you enter the room — even if you don’t see mold, the spores or mycotoxins can still cause symptoms.
Look for causes of mold growth, such as a leak, lack of ventilation, or old food, books, papers, or wood/old furniture. Throw away anything affected by mold or contributing to mold growth.
Check all areas where a leak could happen. Under your sinks, showers and bathtubs. Look for water marks on ceilings and walls.
How is Mold Exposure Confirmed?
With all of the misinformation out there, you may even be told that you cannot get sick from mold! Hopefully after diving into this post and talking to others who have suffered from this issue, you will be convinced that you certainly can get very sick from mold. If you are sick and you find mold in your home, that may be enough for you to have closure and begin the healing process. However, if you are not sure if mold is causing your symptoms, blood tests, and allergy tests can give you a more conclusive answer.
To test for mold toxicity or allergies, your doctor may perform one of these tests:
Blood Test - Your doctor takes a blood sample and sends it to a testing laboratory to test for the reaction of certain antibodies in your immune system to different mold species, including black mold. This can help diagnose both mold allergies and more severe reactions to mold that may indicate mold toxicity A blood test can also check for biotoxins in your blood from mold exposure, which can also reveal mold poisoning.
Skin Prick Test - Your doctor takes tiny amounts of mold and applies it to your skin using a tiny needle. Your skin will break out in bumps, a rash, or hives if you’re allergic to that mold species.
ERMI Home Test Kit- This is one of the most reliable mold detection tests if you are still unsure if your home is contaminated or not. ERMI uses DNA testing that allows for rapid, inexpensive and accurate results.
How To Heal After Mold Illness
This is the most important part! After you have gone through the process of remediation, you may feel relieved. However, just because you removed the mold from your home unfortunately does not mean all of your symptoms will immediately go away. It's important to take binders that can attach to the mold spores still in you body and carry them out through your waste. There are also other supplements that can help support your body in getting rid of mold. Here are some natural treatments to look into as you are healing. I will link to the brands that I trust for your convenience. Always consult with your healthcare practitioner before starting or stopping any health regimen.