Water that infiltrates your home from a ruptured pipe, rainwater runoff, or localized flooding can do more than damage your property, it can also become the key catalyst for the development of potentially dangerous mold. Even if it isn’t a major incident that temporarily inundates your property with water, something as simple as poor ventilation in a bathroom, or an improperly insulated wet wall could eventually turn into a hotbed for mold development.
While it’s more than just unsightly, the presence of mold in your home or other water damaged buildings can make you sit and even become life-threatening! To thoroughly understand the threat posed to your health, it helps to take a closer look at the problem as well as your body’s reaction to the presence of mold spores in the air.
It’s important to keep in mind that a biotoxin illness or mold illness, which is sometimes referred to as mold sickness is not an allergy. While it shares some symptoms with an allergic reaction a biotoxin illness is an inflammatory reaction triggered by the immune system. It is also known as chronic inflammatory response syndrome or CIRS.
The illness can result in acute or chronic systemic inflammatory response caused by being exposed to the interior environment of a previously water-damaged building that has a significant number of toxigenic organisms, present. This includes mold but also extends to other micro-organisms like fungi, bacteria, and actinomycetes as well as mycobacteria. In some cases, chronic inflammatory response syndrome is linked to the presence of inflammagens such as endotoxins, beta glucans, hemolysins, proteinases, and mannans as well as other volatile organic compounds.
Understanding CIRS Symptoms And Diagnosis
The amount of time it takes for the average person’s body to respond to a hazardous environment can vary. However, most people will recover normally without prolonged exposure to biotoxins. Yet there is a small percentage of individuals whose genetic profile makes it harder for their immune system to effectively recognize and thus eliminate biotoxins which can potentially trigger a chronic, systemic inflammatory response.
In some cases, the symptoms of mold-related biotoxin illness and CIRS go undiagnosed as well as untreated. With some of these individuals, they simply don’t realize they have been exposed to a biotoxin, which makes it harder for a doctor to correctly diagnose.
There are 10 symptoms to watch out for if you think you or someone close to you has been affected by CIRS related to prolonged mold exposure.
- Chronic Fatigue
- Persistent Cough
- New Allergies
- Newly Developed or Worsening Asthma
- Skin Health Conditions
- Increased Chemical Sensitivity
- Muscle Cramps
- Persistent Headaches
- General Disorientation
- Gradual loss of Mental Focus
Chronic Fatigue is often described as feeling tired even with adequate sleep and nutrition. Patients often report that it feels hard to even get out of bed in the morning and most sleeping in excess of 10 to 12 hours each day.
A Persistent Cough is relatively common with many respiratory illnesses. It can also include trouble breathing, shortness of breath and cough that will not subside with prescription medication. In some of these cases, the individual may travel for work or vacation and start to feel better, only to have a cough redevelop once they return home.
New Allergies can be related to an increased histamine level in the body caused by the immune system struggling to deal with the constant presence of mold. This can include things like skin rashes, lesions, and respiratory issues. Standard medicine typically provides no relief.
Newly Developed or Worsening Asthma might also be related to the chronic presence of biotoxins in the air. Asthma attacks might also be more frequent at home compared to at work or while traveling.
Skin Health Conditions might also be related to CIRS. They often manifest in the form of eczema and psoriasis or increased skin sensitivity to chemicals.
Increased Chemical Sensitivity can affect the respiratory system as well as the skin in patients who are dealing with CIRS. You might notice this if you feel overwhelmed or have trouble breathing in the laundry aisle of the grocery store if you walk past a perfume counter.
Muscle Cramps And Chronic Body Aches might also be related to chronic inflammation caused by prolonged exposure to biotoxins.
Persistent Headaches are also common in individuals dealing with Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome. It is even more likely to be a cause for concern if your headaches occur more frequently when you are at home and then subside in the car or the office.
General Disorientation can also result from being around mold and certain types of chemicals that give off a strong odor or lingering vapors. In a situation like this, you might not even be able to safely operate a motor vehicle.
Gradual loss of Mental Focus can also be associated with CIRS and mold biotoxin illness. This could manifest as trouble with finding the right word or simply staying mentally sharp when you are in the affected environment for a prolonged amount of time.
Understanding The Source And Development Of Biotoxin Illness
A structure that hosts fungi, bacteria, mycobacteria, and actinomycetes can be related to the recent presence of water inundating porous surfaces. In some situations, it might also be related to a defect in the building’s construction that causes ventilation issues. Sometimes something as simple as a faulty crawl space, water pooling on a flat roof. inadequate caulking on false stucco seams or a basement exposed with groundwater saturation issues can prove to be a root cause.
Early on you might not feel bad all the time, which might make it hard to pin down the underlying cause of your symptoms. Many people with CIRS aren’t aware that they are genetically predisposed to an inflammation-related illness.
In some of these cases, the body’s immune response simply will not abate on its own, even after you have ceased exposure to the affected area. Essentially, when the human body is presented with a foreign substance, the immune system attempts to process it. At first, its goal is to recognize it in order to determine if it is harmful or beneficial.
In the case where your body determines the substance to be a foe, the immune system and other biological processes will attempt to develop antibodies to effectively bind the foreign substances into an antigen. The next time you are exposed to it the body should respond quickly to eliminate or flush the substance from your body.
However, an estimated 25% of the population have a genetic profile that is predisposed to hold onto the antigens even after the initial incident is well past. This causes a daily increase in systematic inflammation. Symptoms can also be exacerbated by other medical conditions that cause an inflammation response.
Biotoxin Illness Treatment
With many of these cases, a physician’s treatment plan cannot adequately address the presence of the mold. They will often provide you with a prescription which may have some or potentially no positive results. The follow-up course from there may be to try an alternate medication or the same medication at a higher dosage. In these cases, the likely outcome will still result in lingering symptoms
A truly effective mold biotoxin illness treatment process requires two stages. The first step calls for total remediation of the mold present in the home or property. This is best handled by professionals who have the tools, techniques, and training to safely remove the presence of mold. They can then apply mold preventative measures as well as advise you on any construction or structural issues that need to be addressed.
From there your physician can help you understand your medical options. This might come in the form of a medication to help with inflammation, as well as things you can do to reduce your body’s histamine response.