Mycotoxicosis /my·co·tox·i·co·sis/ (mi″ko-tok-sĭ-ko´sis): poisoning caused by exposure to mycotoxins.
A mycotoxin is a toxic secondary metabolite produced by mold. Mycotoxicosis, commonly referred to as mold toxicity, or mold illness occurs when a person who doesn’t have antibodies to mycotoxins has accumulated high levels of the dangerous toxins in their brain and body. “Not all species of mold produce pathogens (disease causing elements). However, many species of fungi are known as pathogenic and produce toxic substances, mycotoxins being one of them.” Indoor molds which are not visible to the human eye are highly dangerous, carcinogenic, neurotoxic, and life threatening.
Mold Is Everywhere – Are Genetics To Blame For Mycotoxicosis?
Mold is everywhere, it’s a fact that fungus is just a part of nature. Indoor mold, however is a different story and poses a serious threat to those who don’t have the biological defenses against mycotoxins and other volatile compounds mold spores emit. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not just children, the elderly and immunocompromised who are at risk for mold illness. It does in fact come down to genetics. Some people are more susceptible to getting mold illness than others. If a group of people, even those who are related, are exposed to indoor mold chances are three out of four will not be affected while one may get mycotoxicosis. This is due to their genes, and specific gene mutations such as MTHFR and HLA. One in four people have inherited HLA-DRBQ genetics which results in their immune system not being able to produce antibodies to mycotoxins. This means that at least a quarter of the population is unequipped to fight off the mycotoxins that are so prevalent yet unsuspecting in water damaged homes across the country.
Every Water Damaged Building Has Hidden Mold
A common misconception is that the only way you can get sick from mold is through ingestion of moldy foods. Mold infestations are usually hidden behind water damaged walls, around showers and bathtubs, and above wet ceilings. Mold spores are released into the air, and in most cases bacteria, amoeba, and sometimes mycobacteria and actinomycetes will be present in water damaged buildings, in addition to the mycotoxins. These organisms release a variety of toxic substances we cannot see or smell.
Mycotoxicosis is life-threatening. Exposure to mycotoxins may result in permanent pathological, immunological, psychological, and neurological damage.
Dangerous molds have now been linked to a number of different diseases that are prevalent today, including learning disabilities, gastrointestinal disturbances and GERD, heart problems, cancer, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, and several autoimmune diseases. The truth is, when your immune system is impaired, almost anything can happen in terms of negative health affects. When mycotoxins and other volatile substances invade and colonize within the body a slew of serious chronic illnesses emerge. Every cell and organ is affected by degeneration and necrosis with continued exposure to mycotoxins. Chronic inflammation goes rampant in the body and brain, resulting in debilitating wide-spread chronic pain and fatigue, a profound list of progressive symptoms, and irreversible damage. The immunological and neurological systems are the most impacted, although it becomes a systemic chronic disease as mycotoxins colonize and multiply throughout the body. This generally occurs over a long period of time with the exception of very high exposure levels, and/or exposure to extremely dangerous species of molds, with the onset of systemic symptoms more sudden and more severe.
Significant brain damage equated to traumatic brain injury has been documented in mycotoxicosis patients, most of which has been observed in subjects with high trichothecene levels, the mycotoxin with the highest level of neurotoxicity. Mold toxins are lipophilic meaning their molecular structure consists of fatty acid molecules. For this reason, mold toxins migrate to and deposit in the brain – the brain is the “fattiest” organ, consisting 60 percent of fat.
Recently more and more doctors are admitting that mold illness is a pandemic, with claims that toxic mold exposure is responsible for 500,000 deaths per year in the US. Many people in the mold illness community estimate the number of mold related deaths to be much higher, as many of the lives taken from mycotoxicosis may not have “mold toxicity” as the official cause of death but a secondary condition documented such as organ failure which resulted from the toxicity.
Several tests are available to detect mycotoxin levels in the body, including blood work and urinalysis. Still, mold illness goes predominately undiagnosed due to the inordinate lack of knowledge on environmental and toxicological diseases in the US. Unfortunately this leaves a large number of people to advocate and fight for their health on their own.
Mycotoxicosis sufferers are disabled, homebound, bedridden, and have a greatly reduced quality of life.
To this day there are no proven cures for mycotoxicosis. However, immediate treatment is critical in preventing continued degeneration, anaphylaxis, cancer, organ failure, and death. Treatment may provide some mild symptom relief, which most people with mycotoxicosis are ever so desperate for. “Many may disregard that toxic mold exists due to the fact they personally may not react to the mycotoxin. To you I say, count your blessings, for unlike us that have the genotyping that cannot clear mold from our body, [it must be paradise to be free of such a burden] be thankful you are not afflicted by any of the following symptoms: seizures, low oxygen, chronic sinus and respiratory infections, toxic encephalopathy, excruciating joint pain, [chronic] flu symptoms, gastrointestinal issues, brain fog, short term memory loss, neuropathy, asthma, depression, endocrine & neurotransmitter imbalances, kidney disease, anaphylactic reactions, hemorrhaging, miscarriages, and these are just a short list of a few symptoms we may experience due to mycotoxin exposure.
Allergy vs. Toxicity: Allergies are often prevalent in the first stage of mycotoxicosis. People who do not have the full blown chronic illness may experience acute allergy symptoms upon entering a moldy building, this is not to be confused with toxicity.
Q: What is the difference between a chemical allergy and a chemical toxicity?
A: An allergy produces hay fever-like symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, itching, nasal stuffiness, watering eyes, wheezing, and coughing. Allergy symptoms, while difficult, are generally regarded as different degrees of a nuisance. The symptoms are usually easily observable by a physician and therefore are easily accepted and diagnosed. Diagnosis can be confirmed with typical allergy tests for elevated immunoglobulin E (IgE).
The symptoms of chemical toxicity are typically neurological and include headache, extreme fatigue, dizziness, weakness, nausea, disorientation, memory problems, slowed reaction time, peripheral neuropathy, sensory neuropathy, and personality/mood changes. Other symptoms may include respiratory difficulty, rash, burning sensations in the nose and mouth, and gastrointestinal disorders. Serious toxicity may result in impaired speech, seizures, stroke, and paralysis.
Coexisting Illnesses Commonly Seen in Mycotoxicosis Patients & Common Misdiagnoses :
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Myalgic Encephalomyelitis
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Epilepsy/Seizure Disorder
- Sjogren’s syndrome
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Chronic Sinusitis
- Chronic Bronchitis
- Mental Illness
- Chronic Lyme Disease
Symptoms of Mycotoxicosis:
- Headaches, migraines, brain lesions
- Chronic fatigue, exhaustion
- Irritable bowel syndrome, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, sharp abdominal pains, stomach lesions
- Joint and muscle stiffness, pain and weakness
- Cognitive dysfunction (progressive brain fog); memory loss, slurred speech, confusion, dementia
- Balance problems, dizziness, vertigo
- Ringing in ears, loss of hearing (aspergillus niger)
- Chronic allergies, congestion, sneezing, sinusitis
- Asthma, wheezing, shortness in breath, coughing, chronic bronchitis
- Heart palpitations, irregular heart beat, tachycardia, heart attack
- Weight loss or weight gain (usually sudden and severe)
- Multiple food allergies/leaky gut syndrome/altered immunity
- Thyroid irregularities, sometimes leading to complete dysfunction; adrenal problems
- Bladder, liver, spleen, and/or kidney pain and problems (infections, disease and failure)
- Low grade fevers
- Enlarged, and/or painful lymph nodes
- Reproductive system complications; irregular menstrual cycles, miscarriage, infertility
- Anxiety, depression
- Behavioral issues; mood disorder, irritability, aggression, OCD, bipolar, addiction
- Rashes and/or hives, bruising/scarring easily, bloody lesions all over the skin
- Anemia, leukopenia, neutropenia, frequent infections
- Numbness, paresthesia, Bell’s palsy
- Muscle spasms, fasciculations, tremors, inadvertent facial movements
- Extreme blood pressure, cholesterol, or triglycerides irregularities
- Autonomic nervous system dysfunction (Dysautonomia); Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) , Neurocardiogenic Syncope (NCS), Multiple System Atrophy (MSA)
- Vision problems (floaters, auras, blurred vision, blindness)
- Night sweats, head sweats, profuse sweating, excessive salvia
- Burning in the throat and lungs (similar to acid reflux and often misdiagnosed as such)
- Hypersensitivity pneumonitis
- Intermittent face flushing; called the Mylar Flush (neurological)
- Large boils on neck
- Burning after urination, frequent urination, dark urine
- Insensitivity to heat and alcohol
- Nose bleeds (stachybotrys)
- Coughing up blood, black looking debris
- Difficulty swallowing, choking, spitting up (vomiting)
- Hypersensitivity (highly sensitive to smells, sounds, light, and touch)
- Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
- Hair loss, premature graying of hair
- Anaphylaxis upon re-exposure to mycotoxin producing molds
Permanent problems resulting from mycotoxicosis after treatment:
- Short term memory
Lab tests for Mycotoxicosis/Diagnostics:
Have an environmental physician or toxicologist order one or more of these tests in to rule out mycotoxicosis. There are more test available these are just the ones which are regularly ordered. You can ask your general practitioner to test you for mycotoxicosis, but keep in mind many are unfamiliar with biotoxin illnesses and other environmental related diseases.
If you test positive you need to get on a customized treatment plan as soon as possible.
Mycotoxicosis Blood Tests an Urinalysis:
Mycotoxin panel, c3a and c4a, T1-T2 panels, cyrex autoimmune panel, candida panel and more.
*Keep in mind that it is common to produce false negatives in urinalysis mycotoxin, especially for short exposure periods. If someone does indeed have mycotoxicosis, sauna, or some form of heat depuration just prior to testing can draw out some of the mycotoxins which should then show up on the panel.
Indoor Mold Testing:
You may search for ‘ERMI testing’ to order a test kit for your home or workplace.
Mycometrics – (Doctor recommended.) I’ve used this company a couple times, and tell anyone who wants to test their home to go through them.
IMPORTANT: Make sure the company is USEPA licensed, or accredited. Keep in mind that the cheap mold tests sold in stores such as home depot, etc. are simply not accurate indicators of relative mold index. Your health and your life may depend on this, so spend the extra money on reliable testing.
Mold Cleanup & Remediation:
NEVER USE BLEACH TO CLEAN MOLD! The chemicals in bleach will fuel the toxicity of the mycotoxins, causing more problems in health such as bleeding lungs. This is a HUGE no-no for those with mycotoxicosis, and also for those who are unaffected by mold exposure. Instead use safe, natural products (like tea tree oil, etc.) keeping in mind that it’s not possible to remove toxic mold from natural surfaces such as wood and the alike.
There are many professional mold remediation services out there that will send a team to clean your home from floor to ceiling. If you notice the people who come to decontaminate your home are not wearing full protective gear, or at least masks, then proceed with caution!
Videos On Mycotoxicosis & Mold Exposure: