Home Personal Stories Mold Illness in Children: The Signs, Symptoms, and What I Do Now If My Children Have an Exposure

Mold Illness in Children: The Signs, Symptoms, and What I Do Now If My Children Have an Exposure

by Catherine

I had a completely different post planned for today, but life happens. The thing that happened in mine was my daughter getting sick, again. Because of how far we have come and the fact that we have all recovered so much since getting out of the toxic mold, for the most part, our days of good health definitely outnumber our sick days now. Today was different, though. It brought me back to a darker place and really made me think about some times that I would rather forget. Fortunately, this blog has been a huge blessing to me, and I am able to write through and share some of those feelings. It also rewards my spirit to feel that sharing what I have learned with you could help someone out there struggling with mold, environmental or chronic illness too.

To get you up to speed a little, my sweet 8-year-old daughter took a significant mold hit the other day. She went to play at a friend’s house for a few hours. When I arrived to pick her up, I found her outside in their playhouse, where the girls had been “camping” and laying in musty sleeping bags for hours in what smelled to me like an incredibly moldy playhouse. The minute I detected mold, I panicked, because I know how her body reacts. Today, she finally succumbed to her immune system going haywire. She is currently sound asleep upstairs, but had an agonizing evening of headaches, sinus pressure and even severe nausea from vertigo. She is a tough cookie, though, and knows the signs of her body reacting to mold. She told me right away about how she was feeling when her headaches started.

When we arrived back at our home, I stripped her down to remove everything she had been wearing, so as not to contaminate our home. Then, I put her right into the shower to get any mold spores off of her skin and out of her hair. While she was in the shower, I helped her do a saline sinus rinse with CitriDrops Dietary Supplement added to it for antifungal help. I also brought out my arsenal of treatments to help get her back to normal as quickly as I possibly could. (More on that later.)

I think we are back on track now, but I struggle with feeling guilty and responsible that her little body “feels” mold on a magnified level, because it endured the lengthy toxic mold exposure from our past. She will probably have to deal with health episodes from time to time for the rest of her life. She is a child, though, and has to experience life outside of a bubble, so these things are going to happen. What I can do is put my energy into mold avoidance whenever possible (read my post on Mold Avoidance HERE) and help her recover as quickly as possible by jumping all over it with the correct products, practices and supplements.

Now, with the help of our doctor and naturopath, and through trial and error, we have found some things that work really well, for my children specifically, to circumvent the inflammatory fallout of these exposures. Those tools and products are precisely why I am writing this post. I want to share them with you.

I think this topic is especially important, because there are many other children out there going through this as well. A child’s body and constitution are so different from an adult’s. Mold protocols and treatments have to be handled very delicately. A little goes a long way, and, if something does not work well for her body, it could be a dangerous situation very quickly.

Thus, before I go any further, I must restate the obvious and say that I am not a doctor. Nothing I say in this post should be taken as medical advice and is not meant to diagnose or treat any disease. Any decision you make to try any of the things I do with my children is your own decision. In making that choice, you take all responsibility for the consequences.

To begin, I want to explain the “mold response” in a child a little more before I get into sharing how I handle it in our home.

How Does Mold Affect Children?

You may be wondering if children react to mold differently than adults, even when those adults have the same genes as they do. What we know, and what has been shown in studies of children with mold illness is that fundamentally, the reactions are pretty much the same. The biggest difference being the fact that the hormonal fallout for a child can bear more significance for their long-term health, especially if the antigen (mold) is not removed. This is because any kind of chronic inflammation causes a down-regulation of the hormones that regulate the inflammatory response (VIP, MSH, and ACTH—all of this can be read about more in-depth at SurvivingMold.com—I don’t agree with all of Dr. Shoemaker’s protocols, but his site does an excellent job of describing Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS) as it relates to mold and biotoxin illness).

On a child’s smaller and more sensitive body, it is like the toxic onslaught is just too much, and the body gives up on trying to fight back. In other words, when the hormones that regulate inflammation are continually getting lower, it can prevent the child from getting better, because the cause of the inflammation (mold) is continuously present and the inflammation cannot subside. So, if a child’s toxic burden is already too much, or they are genetically susceptible to mold allergies, a toxic exposure to mold or anything can cause them to develop a chaotic and ineffective inflammatory response. In other words, they develop things, like skin rashes, food intolerances, anger (inflamed brain that is seen more in older children), chronic fatigue, headaches, tummy aches, etc. All symptoms that may seem totally unrelated to mold, but that are caused by the inflammation in their bodies because of the mold.

Then, as a result of the ignited inflammation, that child becomes hypersensitive to mold and other chemicals and toxins. Thus, if a child of yours has CIRS, they may go into a building that seems fine for other kids or for other people and they may say, “I’m not feeling well, Mommy. I’m not feeling right. My head’s hurting. My tummy is hurting.” Or, with an older child who is attending school in a moldy building, they may experience intense anger and frustration, difficulty concentrating, or reoccurring sinus infections. All things that make life very difficult for anyone, but especially for a developing child.

With my children, even though we have done all therapies and properly detoxed their bodies and our environment of mold, this scenario of being in the presence of mold and then suddenly not feeling quite right can still occur. As far as I understand it, this is because mold was our toxic tipping point. Our bodies remember the mold, and consequently the reaction is magnified and almost immediate. This is also precisely why Dr. Dennis advocates that, when it comes to treatment, it always comes back to toxin avoidance as the most important step. Thus, the reason why his body and environmental protocols that we adhere to hinge on cleansing the toxin (mold) from the nasal passages, indoor air, surroundings, and clothing. Remove the toxin, remove the cause of the inflammation. Then, treatment and healing can begin.

How to Know if Your Child is Suffering?

Sometimes, there has been mold detected in the home or school and parents know what they are dealing with. If this is the case, I advise seeking help from a trained medical practitioner in mold/environmental illness. (Read my post on how to find a mold/environmental illness doctor HERE.)

Other times, a child suffering from Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS) from an exposure has clusters of symptoms and health issues that have brought them to their pediatrician. Just like in an adult, the symptoms tend to be varied and sometimes seem unrelated. Add to that the difficulty a young child can have with clearly expressing and defining their symptoms or what is wrong, adults having a hard time asking the right questions, and the scarcity of doctors and medical practitioners who actually understand and ask environmental questions to discover the cause of illness, and you can really have a difficult time pinpointing mold. Missed and undiagnosed mold illness in children is a bigger problem than many people realize.  The good news is that based on the current research, some common symptoms have been documented as good indicators to a least do further testing for mold exposure. Some of those commonly documented symptoms include frequent headaches, belly aches, or muscle aches and pains, paired with abnormal fatigue for a child of their age. Another indicator can be frequent urination, an inability to potty train at 6 or older, and bedwetting at older ages. This is because mold can affect the body’s antidiuretic hormone.

You can also utilize some FREE screening tools that are available online:

Sinus & Mold Evaluation on SinusitisWellness.com

Visual Contrast Sensitvity Test at VCSTest.com

Neither of these can be used as a mold diagnostic test but can provide valuable information about whether or not to proceed with looking for a mold doctor or to pursue further body or environmental testing.

Because of the resiliency of children, they often get better faster than adults do with proper treatment. According to Dr. Dennis, when he sees adults who have had symptoms for 15 or 20 years, and they have a multisystem illness with labs that are outrageous, and they’re really struggling in many areas of life, it takes much longer to get them back to even 70%. When he sees children, particularly up to eight years old, with one system involved, he can treat them sometimes in two weeks (with full parental compliance, of course) and they’ll be completely back to normal. They have 100% resolution of their symptoms.

So not only do they get better faster, but they have a more complete recovery. Add to that active prevention of relapse by doing mold maintenance (read my post HERE) and other diagnostics, like further genetic testing to identify what toxins are going to offend them, you can help them live a full, healthy life.

How Do I Help My Child When There is a Mold Exposure or They Are Showing Signs of Relapse?

I am going to tell you what I do for my children specifically when I know they have been exposed to mold. All of these actions, supplements, and protocols are tried-and-true things we have done again and again to prevent and counter the inflammation cycle. They work for us, are cost-effective, and most are easy to implement or keep on-hand for when the need arises. Also, almost everything on this list is either, non-invasive, natural or homeopathic, so will not cause harm when used correctly. Not causing further damage or harm is ALWAYS my FIRST priority when treating my children for any reason, but especially for mold.

(Note: This post does not address treating biotoxin/mold illness in a child. That is extremely complex and can ONLY be addressed by a doctor or trained medical professional. Also, should you choose to try anything I outline below, make sure to it first with their pediatrician or other trusted medical advisor.)

Things I do right away:

  • Get out of the exposure. This is the MOST important thing on this list. If you nothing else, make sure to get your child out of the exposure as quickly as possible, or to remove the exposure as quickly as possible once it becomes apparent. You have to stop the cause of the inflammation before you can treat it. This may include leaving a building or location, remediating an area or your home or car, removing, treating or fogging a contaminated item or piece of furniture from your home, or treating/tossing an article of clothing. (For a post on fogging, click HERE, for a post on treating furnishings, click HERE, for post on treating clothing, click HERE, and dry-clean only clothing, click HERE. In addition, you can use the search tool on the blog to search past posts by keyword or topic to find what you need.)
  • Utilize saline sinus rinses with CitriDrops Dietary Supplement added or CitriDrops Nasal Spray until symptoms subside.

    This is to halt or prevent the mold spores from entering the body as much as possible. Most airborne mold enters the body through the nose.

    • The sinus rinse can be difficult for a very young child, so you can use the CitriDrops Nasal Spray per package instructions. I use 2 sprays per nostril.
    • My children are used to sinus rinses now and do very well. For a child’s rinse, only add 2 drops of CitriDrops Dietary Supplement for the whole bottle of rinse. This will dilute the solution to a point where it will not burn. I mix the bottle and have my kids lean forward over the tub. I gently insert the nozzle of the bottle in one nostril, making sure not to create a seal with the nozzle top and the nostril. Then, I gently squeeze the bottle and allow the solution to run out of the opposite nostril. Encourage your child to allow their mouth to stay open and to breathe normally. Once you have done both nostrils, your child can gently blow their nose. My kids actually love doing this when they are sick, because it provides instant relief that lasts.
    • You can also purchase Simply Saline pump sprays with the screw-off tops and add 2-3 drops of CitriDrops Dietary Supplement. Then, use the mixture as you would a nasal spray. This is less potent than the CitriDrops Nasal Spray, but still provides the antifungal component needed.
  • Use Sinus Defense to promote cell-mediated immunity but NOT inflammation. Sinus Defense is designed to increase the body’s natural defenses to mold and other common indoor allergens. It can help support their immune system when it is working overtime to eradicate the mold. I use 3 sublingual sprays 2 times daily after an exposure. This is a homeopathic remedy, so it does not have any interactions with other supplements or drugs.
  • Get outside in the sunshine. Increasing Vitamin D production and getting fresh air will work wonders to help the immune systems recover. Even in the wintertime, I try to get us outside for at least an hour per day. In the winter this is difficult, but you want to leave as much skin exposed as you can without sunscreen on. Ideally, you stay outside until skin just slightly colors. For us, that is usually about an hour. We walk around the block or just hang out in the backyard. If you decide to make this a regular practice, you will notice an upswing in your mood as well.
  • Promote activity and active play as much as they feel up to. Even though your child feels crummy and sluggish, it is important for them to get some activity. They don’t have to run around or play a sport to be active. Just have them go for a 5-minute slow walk with you a few times per day or do some gentle stretching. Activity and the conscious breathing it promotes helps the body to strengthen and heal. It helps to open natural detox pathways and promotes detox as well. Our bodies were designed to move, so sedentary living is counter to nature and thus furthers sickness and disease.
  • Make a conscious effort to eliminate sugar and processed foods from their diets. This is extremely important. Sugar and processed foods will feed any yeast trying to take hold. Those things also feed inflammation. I also put my kids on low histamine diets after an exposure, but that is a bit more regimented, so I won’t get into that in this post. The main idea here is to feed them nourishing foods that will help their bodies to heal. An easy way to approach this is to eliminate anything that comes in a package or that contains dairy for a bit, or at least until symptoms subside. We do lots of veggies, berries, and protein, like poached chicken, grass-fed beef, or lactose-free denatured whey protein made into a smoothie with almond milk. There are TONS of websites out there to reference for great food and meal ideas for kids. Some of my favorites are: The Paleo Mamma, Our Paleo Life, and Nom Nom Paleo.
  • Use CitriDrops Dietary Supplement in water or juice to fend off bacteria and yeast. If there is one thing I have learned from our mold ordeal, it is that if there is mold present to make you sick, that is only part of the picture. Mold growing and flourishing indoors is the sign of a host of other invaders of the bacterial, viral, and toxic persuasion. You have to be very aware of the health issues that those things can cause as well. I proactively treat that by adding a few drops (4 or so) to a 4-ounce glass of water or juice for my kids 2 times per day after an exposure. This works wonders to prevent GI distress and Candida. I actually create “lemonade” by adding lemon juice and liquid stevia to a glass of water and then adding the CitriDrops. You want to keep things sugar free as much as possible. Also, only give them about 4 ounces of liquid with the CitriDrops, because you want to make sure they get it all down.
  • Use charcoal/Epsom Salt baths to aid in detox and magnesium absorption.

    We have found these baths to make a HUGE difference in recovery time for my kids. The baths are soothing, relaxing and actually designed to help their bodies get rid of toxins without the reactions that other detox methods can cause. For one “bathtub full,” I just fill the bath and then mix 1 cup of Epsom salts and 2 tablespoons of activated charcoal powder into the water. The charcoal can leave a residue on your tubs, so just rinse it off as your drain the tub when you are done.

Additional Things to Ask Your Doctor About Implementing:

If your child does not improve, here is a list of additional things that have helped us tremendously that you may want to ask them about adding to your child’s regimen until they are back to normal.

  • Glutathione nebulizer – These treatments can be especially helpful for children with autoimmune issues.
  • Extra Vitamin C supplementation – My son, who has mainly sinus symptoms when exposed benefits tremendously from extra vitamin C.
  • Oral Binder Supplements, like charcoal, bentonite clay – I use coconut charcoal by sprinkling it into smoothies I make for the kids. You have to be careful with any binders, though, because they can prevent absorption of other supplements, prescription drugs, and nutrients. They can also cause constipation, which you do not want when you are trying to promote detox.
  • Prescription Antifungals – If nothing else is working, or your child is beginning to get worse, something strong and targeted, either nasally or orally may be necessary.

I hope this post helps some of you out there. Do you have any questions? Tips of things that work for you and your family? I love hearing from you!

 

 

 

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