Tackle Mold at Its Nasal Entry Point to Prevent Inflammation and Heal Your Body
In the beginning, my mold-triggered health issues were mainly upper respiratory in nature. I had all of the typical sinus and allergy symptoms, runny nose, watery eyes, chronic congestion, sore throat, headaches, you name it. At first, it was easy to dismiss being sick. I would tell myself that something was just going around, or that seasonal allergies were getting the best of me. But, when those symptoms continued to worsen, I began to feel like I was dealing with something more. It was like clockwork: I would finish my latest course of antibiotics; I would feel great for a few weeks; and then, I would acquire a new sinus infection, plus a new symptom to add to my growing list. I couldn’t break free from the cycle!
I often told my husband that it felt like something had settled in my sinus and was not being eliminated by any of the antibiotics, allergy sprays, or decongestants that I was taking. I had this suspicion because, as my sinus symptoms got worse–multiple sinus infections, multiple bouts of strep throat with severe facial, jaw, and neck pain–my list of other aliments was also growing. By the end of our first few months in the moldy home, GI distress, acid reflux, insomnia, anxiety, depression, and rapid weight loss were also daily challenges.
My Primary Care Doctor
Although my primary care doctor was properly identifying and treating the infections, he wasn’t looking into why I was progressively getting worse. Neither he nor I had any reason to believe that what was going on with my sinuses was connected in anyway with my new laundry list of hormonal and cognitive symptoms. We just focused all attention on the most pressing thing at the time, which seemed to be my sinus infections. I will say, though, never once did he ask me, “Has anything changed? How is your health overall? Is something in your environment different? (Honestly, looking back now, my medical history with the physician should have sounded some alarm bells. But, the rushed nature of our office visits and his inability to take more time discussing the details of my environment and my daily stressors worked against us.) When my fourth sinus infection in 3 months hit, I had had enough and wanted some answers.
Seeking Specialty Care
Since, my insurance did not require a formal PC referral to see a specialist, I was able to branch out to see Dr. Dennis, an ENT who, among other things, specializes in chronic sinusitis. My rationale was that, regardless of my more difficult-to-pin-down symptoms of anxiety, depression, insomnia, GI upset, etc., I knew I had chronic sinusitis, which was assessable and real. At least I could get a second opinion from a specialist on that front. I could finally find out if there was something more going on.
Dr. Dennis took the time required to survey me about all my current symptoms, medical history, and environment. I felt like no stone was left unturned, including a thorough endoscopic examination of my sinuses. He clearly identified fungal growth and sinus irritation caused by gastrointestinal esophageal reflux disease (GERD). He explained the presence of Candida and how stomach acid made its way into my sinuses. I had never before considered that the throat and the nose are connected. He made sure I understood the connection, so that I would also understand to address additional causes of my symptoms.
It was eye opening, because I finally had a clear “why,” for all of the sinus infections. Before I left the office that day, he opened and drained my infected sinus and irrigated it with amphotericin B., a potent antifungal often avoided by the medical community for its proclivity to toxicity when administered via IV. He used it topically in my sinuses so it did not enter my bloodstream which mitigated the toxicity risks. The relief was incredible and for the next few days, I felt better than I had in months. He sent me home with strict directions on how to perform twice daily saline nasal washes with CitriDrops Dietary Supplement added to them and a prescription for the antifungal nasal spray (amphotericin B) to use after the nasal washes. He also gave me plates to test our home for mold and information on mold remediation. That meeting changed the course of my life, because it led into the lengthy investigation of our home, finding the systemic, toxic mold problem in our HVAC, and well, you know the rest—here I am with a mold blog.
Why Does This Matter?
My symptoms forced me to first focus on my nose, which led me to Dr. Dennis, which led me to test my home for mold, which then led to us finding the environmental source of our sickness, and so on. Seeing Dr. Dennis jumpstarted my recovery, because he was able to pinpoint and flush out a reservoir of mold in my nose that was making me very sick. Without that intervention early on, my recovery would have taken even longer or may never have occurred.
While I was continuously inhaling mold in my home, my body’s healing systems were not able to function properly and mold was, in fact, continuing to colonize in my sinus. This makes sense—the sinuses are a warm, moist environment with mucous and other organic material to feed on. Thus, the mold in my sinus would’ve had to be specifically addressed at some point for me to get well. (Note: Removal of “fungal balls” from the sinus are common surgical procedures and the fungus itself is conclusive evidence.)
When there is mold overgrowth anywhere in the body, it will continue to thrive unless it is removed, killed, or starved. Also, and even more important to understand, though, is that continuing to expose yourself to environmental mold and continuing to inhale new mold spores will make you stay sick. Thus, for both your nose and your environment, it makes sense that you first must remove the source (or get out of the exposure), and then, for the nose, regularly flush out the fungus by nasal rinsing to prevent additional spores from entering the body, and/or treat it with an antifungal, if colonization has occurred.
What If Sinus Symptoms Aren’t Your Main Issue?
Even if you do not have obvious sinus symptoms, your nose is always a potential reservoir for fungal growth and colonization just by nature of how we breathe and because of the warm, moist nasal terrain. In fact, in a study done on the nasal secretions of over 100 patients, ALL contained mold—even the secretions from healthy patients. Now, obviously, not everyone becomes sick from mold (only 25% of the population is genetically susceptible to sickness caused by mold), but, if you are one of those people, and have been unable to get well with other treatments and interventions, addressing mold in your nose may be the missing piece for recovery. Further, since we know that mold spores mainly enter the body through the nose, it is my opinion that anyone who suspects mold in their environment is making them sick should proactively treat and pay close attention to cleansing their nose for mold.
Another aspect of mold biology to consider is that some common household molds produce mycotoxins, secondary metabolites excreted by mold. These are “sticky,” toxic chemicals that can attach to dust and become airborne in addition to the mold spores. Mycotoxins are extremely harmful to both tissue and organs systems in the body. Once inside the body, some molds continue to produce mycotoxins and can cause systemic illness and disease. Once absorbed, your body then has to metabolize and excrete these over time. It is extremely important to remove these molds and mycotoxins via nasal washing, antifungals, sinus surgery, binders, etc., because a person who is colonized will continue to be sick even when they are out of the exposure and on maximum therapy. A study that illustrates this extremely well is one by Dr. Dennis and the late Dr. Jack Thrasher, entitled, “Surgical and Medical Management of Sinus Mucosal and Systemic Mycotoxicosis.” In the study, affected sinus tissue was removed from 2 mold patients. When the tissue was cultured in a lab and analyzed, several dangerous mycotoxins were identified conclusively. Thus, the mycotoxins were physically present in the patient’s sinus tissue. For more on this study and for a “layperson’s” explanation of the findings, please read THIS ARTICLE from Sinusitis Wellness.
What Can I Do to Address Mold in My Nose?
Regardless of how much control you presently have over your environment, you can take action to reduce how much mold is entering your body through your nose. In fact, I still treat my nose proactively for mold everyday as part of my mold avoidance protocol. Doing so helps me to stay well, because it is almost impossible to avoid all exposures all of the time.
My Tips and Recommendations for Keeping Your Nose Mold Free:
1.) Daily Nasal Rinsing with a saline-based irrigation system, like Nasopure with 4-6 drops of CitriDrops Dietary Supplement added per 8 ounces of saline. The saline gently and effectively rinses mucus, mold, and debris from your nose before it can take up residence and make you sick. The CitriDrops acts as a multifaceted antifungal to specifically target mold and to prevent mold build up. For details on how to properly perform a rinse, see my post HERE.
2.) Saline Nasal Rinses with CitriDrops Dietary Supplement added whenever you feel like you have had an exposure, or feel yourself reacting to an item or a certain environment. This has its own place on the list, because, in addition to a daily rinse to keep your nasal passages clean, you can also incorporate the additional cleanses to offset exposures. By doing so, you are removing the specific mold spores that are making you sick.
3.) Using CitriDrops Nasal Spray to soothe, decongest my nose and prevent sinus symptoms. The nasal spray is a homeopathic that contains natural decongestants, antimicrobials, and antifungals. It is also very soothing to the nose. I use it after my saline rinses when I feel stuffy, feel sinus pressure, or need more to prevent mold reactions. It is also a product that you can take on the go.
4.) Fogging my entire home once a month with the EC3 Mold Solution Concentrate and also burning the EC3 Air Purification Candles in my indoor environments. These things are not put directly in your nose, but will significantly reduce the indoor spore counts and keep them at bay. This will decrease how much mold you are inhaling on a regular basis. Since it is impossible to keep all mold out of your home, this really helps people who are highly reactive. Keeping the air count low allows your body to heal while you are sleeping when most healing occurs.
5.) Using Sinus Defense to continue to increase my mold resiliency. This sublingual spray is homeopathic and contains Transfer Factor to boost cell-mediated immunity to mold and other indoor allergens. It is one of those products that the more you use it, the better it works for you. I have just gotten into the habit of squirting 4-6 sprays under my tongue each night before I go to bed as part of my routine. It helps my body defend against anything I am getting into my nose throughout my day.
6.) Wearing my Wein Mini Mate Neck Unit in bad indoor environments and during travel. When I have to go or be somewhere that is not ideal mold-wise, I wear my neck unit to purify my immediate air and to offset the poor air quality. It is a temporary fix that I find very helpful.