Mold Illness from Water Damage – Myth or Reality?

What is Mold Illness? Do people get sick after being exposed to water damaged buildings?

The answer is yes. People get sick and remain sick by exposure to a WDB. Simply stated, water drives the growth of mold and bacteria.

A study conducted by National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), a branch of National Institutes of Health(NIH) conducted a study into Chronic illness associated with Mold and Myotoxins and published a paper in December 2013.


The study clearly concluded that

  • Exposure to water damaged buildings (WDB) have been associated with numerous health problems that include fungal sinusitis, abnormalities in T and B cells, central and peripheral neuropathy, asthma, sarcoidosis, respiratory infections and chronic fatigue.
  • It has been well established that mold and mycotoxins are important constituents of the milieu in WDB that can lead to illness.
  • Many of these patients have remained chronically ill despite leaving the moldy environment several years previous to the urine testing


What does this mean?

There have been lots of names given to this illness over the years including “Mold Illness”.

Let’s start with some basics, this illness is not an allergy . It is an inflammatory response cause by the immune system going haywire. The term mold illness is a subcategory of bio toxin illness called “Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome “.

CIRS is “An acute and chronic inflammatory response syndrome following exposure to the interior environment of a water damaged building with resident toxigenic organisms including but not limited to fungi, bacteria, actinomycetes and mycobacteria as well as inflammagens such as endotoxins, beta glucans, hemolysins, proteinases, manans  and possibility spirocyclic drimanes as well as volatile organic compounds.”

As mentioned in the NIH study, these symptoms can appear many years after the initial exposure.

What happens in the body?

Many patients ‘don’t look bad”. But those struggling with an illness that causes them to lose their quality of life. These patients don’t know they have a genetic susceptibility to develop this illness based on their immune response genes [HLA-DR]. They don’t realize that the inflammation that makes them ill comes from within. It is due to an assault by their own unregulated immune system responses. After exposure to a water damaged building these patients will have a series of abnormalities in innate immune responses that will not heal by itself or abate in severity on the contrary it will get worse and will continue to cause illness from blood and tissue –based inflammation as well as alteration of their genomic activity. At the core, why one person gets affected and the other does not is because their innate immunity is personal and genetically coded in their DNA.

What are the Symptoms:

Symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Aches
  • Muscle Cramps
  • Unusual Pain
  • Ice Pick Pain
  • Headache
  • Light Sensitivity
  • Red Eyes
  • Blurred Vision
  • Tearing
  • Sinus Problems
  • Cough
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Joint Pain
  • Morning Stiffness
  • Memory Issues
  • Focus/Concentration Issues
  • Word Recollection Issues
  • Decreased Learning of New Knowledge
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Skin Sensitivity
  • Mood Swings
  • Appetite Swings
  • Sweats (especially night sweats)
  • Temperature Regulation or Dysregulation Problems
  • Excessive Thirst
  • Increased Urination
  • Static Shocks
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Vertigo
  • Metallic Taste
  • Tremors

Checklist that might indicate mold exposure or mold sensitivity (from ECH website)

  • Do musty odors bother you?
  • Have you worked or lived in a building where the air vents or ceiling tiles were discolored?
  • Have you noticed water damage or discoloration elsewhere?
  • Has your home been flooded?
  • Have you had leaks in the roof?
  • Do you experience unusual shortness of breath?
  • Do you experience recurring sinus infections?
  • Do you experience recurring respiratory infections and coughing?
  • Do you have frequent flu-like symptoms?
  • Do your symptoms worsen on rainy days?
  • Do you have frequent headaches?
  • Are you fatigued and have a skin rashes?

Steps to take

  1. Remove all water damaged articles from home, spray the affected areas of homes with one part bleach and four parts of water .
  2. Get a Environmental Relative Moldiness Index or ERMI score for your home[]
  3. Get your genetic profile to see if your immune system can handle this exposure.
  4. Consult a Functional and Holistic medicine practitioner near you who can guide you to prevent or treat this debilitating illness


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