A patient came to us with extensive hives that had not gone away for a year. He saw many practitioners and none of them could figure out the problem. Dr. Merritt asked one simple question: “By any chance do you have mold in your house?” Not only did he know about a current mold issue, he was also aware of a persistent roof leak from some years past. As it turned out, not just any mold was lurking in his home, but Stachybotrys chartarum— best known as toxic black mold.
By performing an easy swiffer test (available in our office), he determined the presence of mold and mold fragments in the house. The patient immediately took action to remediate the house. He noticed within 3 days that his thinking had improved, he experienced less inflammation, and his hives finally started to clear up. He simply had no idea of the toxicity of being exposed to mold in the house. Symptoms of mold illness run the gamut: misdiagnosed problems like unexplained skin rashes, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, random-seeming chronic pain, unpredictable pain, digestive issues that don’t respond to treatment. Patients experience other food allergies, migraine headaches (or regular headaches) that last longer than 24 hours, brain fog, memory issues, even depression caused by inflammation, and more. One of the biggest clues can be that the person has seen many doctors and still hasn’t gotten any relief.
In spite of all of this, many have no idea how devastating exposure to toxic mold can be.
Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS) includes illness from exposure to water-damaged buildings, post-Lyme syndrome from tick bites, as well a a few other biotoxins. By far, the most common is mold from water-damaged building materials — it only takes 48 hours for mold to begin to grow! Patients may develop symptoms rapidly, or it may take longer, and genetics are involved as well. Susceptible people are unable to to clear the toxins, while their spouse may be able to, which leads to some of the confusion of if this is a “real” disease or not. Additionally, the person may be sick from an exposure from years ago, with the current home or work environment being fine.
Due to modern building materials, indoor plumbing, shoddy construction practices, and just accidents, there is water damage more often than people realize. Like we mentioned above, water damage that lasts longer than 48 hours creates an environment where mold will grow. Have you had a dishwasher leak? Refrigerator leak? Roof leak? Sills of windows leak or regularly moist? Do you have a basement or crawl space? Chances are you have unseen mold if you answer yes to any of these. And HVAC systems are the worst offenders of all — by far, this is the #1 place that toxic mold is found.
You can easily test for mold by performing a HERTSMI-2 test or an ERMI test, which tests for the DNA of mold (so it’s the most accurate by far). If you or somebody you know has unexplained symptoms like the ones listed above, learn more. If you or a loved one have seen many doctors and gotten no answer, call us for more information. If you are not getting better with regular treatment, call us at (512) 495-9015 to find out about the specific testing and treatment we do for CIRS.