Mould... the next asbestos?
Today I feel prompted to talk about something that has personally affected the health of our family (that story is for another time) – and that is mould and the devastating effects it has on health. Now to be honest, this topic is huge… way too big for one post, so today I just want to get the conversation going… just get people thinking.
So mould... what many don’t realise is that you can’t always see it or even smell it, however it affects up to 1 in 3 homes, and roughly 25% of the population can’t produce antibodies to it. MANY ARE EVEN REFERRING TO MOULD AS THE NEXT ASBESTOS!
While the majority of the population (75%) produce antibodies which enable them to recognise and clear the toxins associated with a mouldy building, a quarter of the population have certain genes that make them unable - meaning that every time they enter a mouldy building, it sets up an inflammatory response in their body that doesn’t switch off. And when that building is their home – that they are living, sleeping and breathing in day in and out - then they just remain sick.
This past year has been incredibly wet – the wettest I remember. And with moisture comes mould, or more precisely what mould needs to grow is moisture.
As Nicole Bijlsma (former president of the Australasian Society of Building Biologists and founder of the Australian College of Environmental Studies) says, “Once moisture sits on a surface for more than 48 hours, the microbes on the surface will attempt to take over the space by producing endotoxins, mycotoxins and microbial volatile organic compounds which can dramatically impact the indoor air quality and affect the health of the occupants.” (buildingbiology.com)
So what sort of health effects do we see from mould? It’s commonly understand that mould can cause respiratory issues such as asthma, but what is less commonly understood is a condition called Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS) - a multi system, multi symptom illness which is perhaps far more common than we have realised. Mould is not the only cause of CIRS, but when CIRS is caused by mould it is more commonly referred to as “mould illness”.
The symptoms of CIRS are extensive and affect the whole body, including the brain, and are often misdiagnosed as conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. It includes such symptoms as fatigue that is not alleviated by sleep, headaches, sleep disturbances, brain fog, decreased word recollection, various pains, respiratory symptoms, light sensitivity, appetite swings, temperature dysregulation, night sweats, diarrhoea, mood swings, skin sensitivity… and more. Additionally about 30% of CIRS patients will experience excessive urination and thirst that is not associated with diabetes as well as static shocks (this tends to be a later stage of the illness).
In addition to all this, mould is just one of a number of environmental toxins involved in the pathways triggering or exacerbating such conditions as autoimmune disease, ADHD and autism, in those who are genetically susceptible.
The good news is that CIRS is treatable. I have seen people that have been given diagnoses such as CFS and fibromyalgia, have been living with a host of debilitating symptoms (some even for 20 years), have been to multiple health professionals, undergone extensive testing, “tried everything” and been left with no hope of recovery – just a life of managing the best they can… and I have seen these people recover. This is hope and this is what I love.
If this sounds a bit like your story, or you wonder if mould is affecting your health, it is an area I treat and I’d love to work with you.
If you want to read more about CIRS I recommend the following websites: