AN EXCERPT FROM NOURISH, HEAL,THRIVE : A comprehensive and holistic guide to living with Lyme disease.
The Mold Factor
If you live or work in a moldy home or office, frequent a moldy structure (e.g., an old bookstore, church, or library), each time you breathe, you inhale mold spores. These spores also make their way onto your clothes and your belongings, allowing for contamination wherever you go. These mold spores can cause ill- ness, with symptoms similar to those caused by Lyme infections. Many people do not know that these mold spores are what’s keeping them ill. They often assume that it’s just the Lyme infection.
It is important to understand that mold is only part of the problem. Mold tox- ins, heavy metal toxicity, genetic factors, underlying respiratory ailments, antibi- otic use, a weakened immune system, increased chemical sensitivities, hormonal imbalances, and viral infections are all interconnected. If your immune system is weakened by the Lyme infections and antibiotics (and nonoptimal eating hab- its), you are more susceptible to fungal overgrowth in the body. You will also be more affected by mold in your environment. Symptoms can mimic Lyme, and Lyme can mimic mold illness.
Many people do not understand how difficult daily life can be for the individ- ual dealing with a toxic mold infection. Misdiagnosed individuals are prescribed multiple prescription drugs, including antidepressants, antipsychotics, and sleep medications—even though they have toxic mold illness. Often, mold-toxic individuals are diagnosed with the vague diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome because they are not able to function in daily life.
Indoors, mold is prevalent under older carpets, in sheetrock, in walls, in shower stalls, in basements, and in air conditioner ducts. Water damage in older apartments and homes that was not correctly remediated increases the risk of harmful mold exposures for the people living there. Newer buildings that are energy efficient and not well ventilated can trap toxic mold spores that are inhaled
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by occupants. Finished and unfinished basements in homes without adequate humidifiers are breeding grounds for mold that can spread quickly through the house during humid and warm months.
Mold spores also exist outdoors. They can be found in the air, soil, and every- where in nature where it is warm, damp, and humid, including compost piles and wooded areas that favor the growth of mold and mushrooms.
The low-grade but chronic exposure to home and environmental mold causes Lyme and fungus-related symptoms to worsen, especially if you are living in a humid climate with outdoor mold exposures as well. Symptoms include a hyper- reactive immune response, chronic sinusitis, and a metallic taste in the mouth. With mold illness, colonization of multiple antibiotic-resistant microbes, called macrons (multiple antibiotic resistant coagulase negative staph colonization), can often occur, and these must be treated before any therapeutic Lyme treatment can begin. Individuals suffering from this condition have no tolerance for exercise. It takes an investigative and integrated approach to address the various components of this complicated and misunderstood environmental illness.
Mold toxins wreak havoc on the brain and the body’s biochemistry. The blood-brain barrier is designed to keep toxins out of the sensitive brain; when it is breached, poisonous substances enter the brain and cause damage. This dam- age causes psychiatric symptoms and learning disabilities that are often misdi- agnosed by psychiatrists and pediatricians. For instance, toxic mold illnesses can be misdiagnosed as autism spectrum–related disorders because the symptoms are similar. This is all part of the complex landscape of chronic Lyme.
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