When I started this blog, I wanted to do more than to just post different ways of “How to Clean for Mold,” even though that is the blog’s title. For me, figuring out the mold piece of my family’s allergies and health problems changed the way I did just about everything. For example, it forced me to wash my produce differently (see my post on washing fruits and veggies for mold HERE), to clean my home regularly for mold, and to be extremely vigilant about air quality.
When we found a doctor who alerted us to the possibility of mold in our living environment as the cause of many of the health problems that we were facing, I immediately began an “education by fire approach” to learning all I could about mold—reading everything and anything I could get my hands on that related to the topic, and talking to many different medical and environmental mold professionals. But, more than all of the scientific reading and professional help, the thing that really got me believing and wanting to try changing our environment, cleaning for mold and doing an overhaul on our diet and air quality, were the online communities of people on forums and blogs who discussed their health symptoms and personal experiences. I found some comfort in knowing that there were hundreds, if not thousands of other people out there who had experienced the exact same symptoms as me, my husband, and my son, and who had gotten better by cleaning their environments and lives of mold.
Because of that, I want to go into detail today about health symptoms at the time when we were living in a moldy environment. My hope is that reading this might help someone searching for their own answers. Again, I must give the disclaimer that I am not a Doctor, scientist, or a mold remediation professional. I am just a patient, wife, and mom, who has had LOTS of personal experience with mold-related illness in my life. I am personally sensitive to mold, and have battled chronic sinus infections, because of my allergy to mold. I also have had the life knowledge of sitting in countless doctor’s offices to find a cure or explanation for otherwise unexplained illness in my child and husband. I have the research and scientific experience of finding out about fungal-related maladies and throwing myself into learning everything I could to help myself and my family. I also have the joyful experience of experiencing healing as we finally found a doctor who understood the root of our problems and addressed the mold. It was literally magical. I went from being resigned to a life of chronic illness to being excited about the prospects of good health.
Ok, so back to the biological changes and/or health issues that we experienced that turned out to be indicators of fungal- or mold-related illness:
The first one was chronic sinus congestion. We were constantly sidelined by sinus pressure, pain and infection. I felt like we would just “get over” one sinus infection, only to “pick-up” another one a week later. When I was having a hard time remembering what it was like to have us all healthy at the same time, and imploring our primary care doctors to test us for other things, rather than just giving us more antibiotics, I started to get really frustrated. Also, whenever we would go to our in-laws’ home in Florida for a week or two we would literally come back to life. We would rediscover the energy that was lacking from our daily life back at our home. It was more than just the ocean breezes and the saltwater. We were away from the mold that was making us sick. But, I didn’t know it at the time.
Another symptom my husband and son displayed was reflux. I always thought they were reacting to the antibiotics, but when we finally started honing in on the mold, we found that they were both full of yeast. Yes, when antibiotics kill off your healthy gut bacteria, you do experience yeast growth, but the levels for both my son and husband were off the charts. They both even had white patches on their skin indicating the overgrowth of yeast in their bodies.
When we began cleaning our home for mold, we also cleaned up our diet and began a strict antifungal or Candida Diet until we got everything under control. A Candida Diet is a way to clean your digestive system for mold by ceasing to feed it the food that helps it grow or reproduce. Here is a great link to read more about it, if you are interested. Maybe I’ll even write a future post about it, if there is interest.
My husband experienced chronic fatigue. His fatigue was so extreme that we thought he had narcolepsy. He was 28 years old, but could not sit down without either falling asleep, or having to fight sleep to the point of being miserable on car rides, at sporting events, or when sitting at his desk to work. He described it to me one day by saying, “It’s like, no matter how much sleep I get, I still have nothing in the tank. I have zero reserves.” It was especially alarming, because before, he had been so active. Before living in the moldy home, he was a builder and carpenter by trade—constantly active on his job sites. Then, he would come home in the afternoons and cycle or run with me. He even did motorcross. In other words, he never sat down and was always up for anything. When exposed to the mold, he had a hard time getting out of bed in the morning, no matter how early he had gone to sleep, and would lie down immediately when he got home from work. Was it possible for someone to get sick that quickly, I wondered? I later learned that when it comes to mold, the answer is yes. If you are allergic or sensitive, exposure only has to be short to have an effect.
Another indicator for both my son and husband was constant frustration and agitation. I remember watching Dave Asprey’s interview for his movie “Moldy,” and listening to him describe what he termed, “mold rage.” It took me back to those days. It was a real thing for them. When we were at home, they were angry. My son was so little—3—and he couldn’t express himself and his anger. He was frustrated by life, and it was hard to watch. He never smiled. I was convinced something was happening neurologically, because his head was always hurting him—headaches are another symptom. He had been the easiest, happiest baby. Now he was defiant, angry and upset all the time. My husband became quite the yeller. Our house was not a happy place. I was falling apart trying to hold it all together.
The final, most obvious symptom for all of us was the sudden onset of many new food intolerances. As a family, we ate a well-balanced, varied diet. When we lived in our home where we were exposed to mold for a prolonged amount of time, we all became bloated, tired and cranky. It seemed like whenever we ate, we were all sidelined with stomach pains. My husband even had absorption problems, and was incorrectly diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and put on steroids and other meds to “fix” the problem. I was concerned that a life on steroids would cause other health problems, like weight gain, and bleeding issues, just to name two. To me, a life of medication to mask the underlying health issue was NOT a viable solution.
Thankfully, something inside me just knew something wasn’t right. When I began peeling the onion, each layer of symptoms seemed to be related to the one before. Then, when we went to the doctor who finally helped us identify their mold allergies, his solutions and advice started the healing. This was definitely a long process. We did not get better overnight, but each day we took steps to remove or address the mold, our symptoms would decrease.
The same doctor also taught us about the importance of air quality in our home. He helped us find professionals to test for mold and to treat our home. The air quality piece drove me to become educated about properly cleaning our home for mold. I learned about using techniques, like steam, and began trying the MicroBalance and EC3 Products. As my family’s health continued to improve, we gradually got our lives back. So, here we are…
My hope is that reading this will help more people that, up until now, have been silenced by the fear of people thinking they are overreacting or are rude or crazy when they mention mold as a possible culprit for their or their family’s health issues.
If you are interested in going deeper, or finding out more about mold-related illness, here are 2 good links to explore: