Many experts agree that if you are a patient being treated for chronic Lyme disease, but are not getting better, underlying mold toxicity could be at fault. Mold illnesses and Lyme Disease share many symptoms and if all treatments have been exhausted for Lyme with no result, mold could be the hidden offender. According to the book New Paradigms in Lyme Disease Treatment, “mold toxicity causes patients to develop symptoms from Lyme infections and vice versa, and people with weakened immune systems are far more susceptible to sickness from mold…and doctors are just beginning to understand and explore it, and like Lyme disease, many conventional physicians are not even aware of it.”
Many people know that black mold poses a huge threat, but are unfamiliar with other types of mold causing health issues. Mold illness causes extreme inflammation, called chronic inflammatory response syndrome (CIRS) and when coupled with Lyme disease, symptoms such as fever, headache, and fatigue are exacerbated. Often, mold-related allergies are misdiagnosed or worse, many doctors assume the problems are psychosomatic. Because of this, many people are not aware they are suffering from CIRS plus Lyme disease simultaneously.
CIRS is a biotoxin illness which is triggered by prolonged exposure to mold. The disease presents itself differently in each person, making it extremely hard to diagnose and treat. Mold is everywhere, behind walls, underneath floors, in attics, and anywhere else that has a hint of water. It does not need visible water to grow, and because it looks like dust and often has no scent, many people are not aware they are living with it. About 25% of the United States population has genes that predispose them to a higher risk for CIRS if in contact with certain types of molds. Even for those without a predisposition, repeated and prolonged exposure can also cause CIRS.
For most of the population, the body’s immune system removes biotoxins through the liver and people remain healthy with no symptoms. But for those with Lyme, since the immune system is already in a weakened state, and the body is unable to break done the invading biotoxins. The immune system is supposed to identify a threat and neutralize it through the production of cytokine proteins. However, with Lyme and other chronic autoimmune disorders there is an overproduction of cytokine proteins because the body is unable to differentiate between the threat and the healthy cells. This produces extreme inflammation. The overproduction of cytokines also causes hormone imbalances and although the inflammatory response is supposed to protect you from the mold threat, long term inflammation makes people far sicker than the biotoxins would have made them in the first place.
Symptoms can include any of the following:
- Brain Fog
- Memory Loss
- Light Sensitivity
- Vision Issues
- Chronic Congestion
- Chronic Cough
- Muscle Aches
- Joint Pain
- Bone Pain
- Shortness of Breath
- Sleep Problems
- And Much More
The first step in treating mold is avoiding the allergen in the first place. Depending upon where you live and the age of the building you live in, this may prove difficult. There are plenty of companies that offer mold remediation services for a cost. Before doing this, think about whether you feel better when you exit your home entirely. If you feel better outside of your house, then you can be sure your home is the culprit. Likewise, before paying for mold remediation, try to get a doctor to order an IgE Mold Panel so you can be certain remediation is worth the money. If you suspect you are suffering from mold illness, it can be hard to get a doctor to believe you. As mentioned, they often believe mold symptoms are psychosomatic, but if you find a doctor who is on the same page as you, and the IgE Mold Panel comes up positive, there are other, more in depth tests they can order as well.
Unfortunately, just as with Lyme Disease, you will have to be your own advocate most of the time. For now, you will have to do much of the research on your own since many health professionals are completely unaware of signs and symptoms of mold toxicity. As more people recognize what is causing their chronic inflammation and mold illness is becoming better understood, this will hopefully change. Just this year, the NIH published an ongoing study related to mold exposure, which is a huge step in the right direction.