March 16, 2023

Mold: Part One

In recent years, mold illness has been gaining recognition as doctors have witnessed the significant role mold can play in the onset of an array of disparate and otherwise unexplainable symptoms. Unfortunately, many people are struggling with mold related symptoms without having anyone qualified to identify or treat the root of the problem – the mold.

A diagnosis of mold illness relies on a medical professional familiar with the symptoms and patient presentations, as well as subtle clues suggesting this diagnosis.

The topic of mold illness is complex, and given how common it is, having doctors trained to identify and treat mold illness has become more important than ever.

There is far too much to cover to have a thorough discussion in a single blog post, but here we hope to help people recognize some symptoms that may be mold related, and give a brief description as to how mold illness can be pinned down as a diagnosis. In future posts, more detailed aspects will be covered.

A bit of background into complex illnesses

Sometimes people develop unusual symptoms that cannot be easily explained via conventional medical assessments. Blood tests are normal, imaging is normal, but these people continue to struggle, often terribly. With no medical findings, these patients are often left feeling unheard, misunderstood, and eventually, dismissed. Sometimes they are given labels of depression, or that this is “all in their head. This is an easy way to brush off complex patient cases without getting involved in the difficult work of deeply investigating the complex origins of illness.

Mold, and the mycotoxins they release, are one of these complex origins of illness.

Mold related illnesses are sometimes given familiar names like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (Myalgic Encephalitis), Fibromyalgia, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, or Sick Building Syndrome, but having a name for a cluster of symptoms does not help in understanding why they have come to be. Many other symptoms of mold illness are not so easily classified – and because they do not fit into a common diagnostic category, they are often dismissed, leaving the patient discouraged and in even worse condition.

Why is mold illness so difficult to recognize and diagnose?

Some people are more resilient to mold than others. These people can tolerate the presence of mold in their environments (at least to some degree), whereas those who are susceptible develop severe symptoms. The differences are linked primarily to a genetically determined inability to process and eliminate mycotoxins – the toxic metabolites released by mold species. Those who do not process these efficiently will struggle with mold illness.

Because different people react differently to mold exposure, mold may be dismissed as a causative factor because not everyone in the same household or work environment is reacting the same way or experiencing symptoms. Often only one person in a family will struggle with mold illness while the others get by relatively much more easily.

Another difficulty in diagnosis is that mold illness can present very differently in different people. In other words, not everyone will exhibit the same symptoms. Systems commonly affected include the liver, nervous system, immune system, skin, kidneys, among others.

Most of the time, the symptoms of mold illness are spread throughout a variety of systems and are not isolated in one place.

Finally, making diagnosis the most difficult, the symptoms of other complex conditions can look a lot like mold illness, and they may even co-exist. For example, chronic Lyme disease, Babesia, or Bartonella, chronic viral illnesses, or toxic accumulations including heavy metals.

Symptoms suggestive of mold illness

Some of the more common symptoms of mold illness include: 

– Severe Brain Fog

– Fatigue and Exhaustion


– Anxiety and OCD

– Numbness and Tingling in Extremities

– Chronic sinusitis, congestion, sneezing, runny nose, post nasal drip

– Sensitivity to fragrances, odours, or other chemicals

Unique symptoms of mold may include:

– a stabbing, ice pick sensation in the brain

– a sensation of internal vibrations or tremors

– frequent static or electrical shocks

– skin sensitive to clothing seams or tags

– dermatographism

– highly sensitive to noise or light

In certain conditions mold and mycotoxins need investigation to rule in/out:

– All mental health illnesses (mental health illnesses are not entirely psychological, they just as often result from neurological factors, including neuroinflammation such as that triggered by mold)

– Alzheimer’s Dementia

– Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS)

– Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

– Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS)

– Fibromyalgia

– Breast Implant Illness (BII)

Interesting clues to suggest mold:

– People sensitive to medications or reacting in an opposite manner

– When the original chief complaint is not improving despite the right treatment and compliance

How to begin further assessment for mold illness

The first step to begin clarifying whether a patient has mold-related symptoms is via a thorough Mold Questionnaire. This will often give an indication of whether to look further into mold or to look more so elsewhere.

In some patients, a Visual Contrast Sensitivity Test is an easy and inexpensive way to identify the neuroinflammation that accompanies mold illness.

To directly assess for mold exposure, a Urinary Mycotoxin Test is most appropriate. Mycotoxins are toxic metabolites released by mold spores and their presence is indicative of mold exposure.

At this point mold may be very high on the list of suspects and an assessment of the home or work environment becomes essential for identifying the source of the mold exposure. Sampling our Environment for Mold Spore dust in our homes is the most accurate way to assess for mold.

Certain blood tests can be useful to clarify the exact extent of illness, but with positive tests to this point, one is already rather certain of the involvement of mold in the pathological process leading to illness.


In upcoming articles, we will discuss the necessary facets of treatment. Mold has been described as a formidable foe, and for good reason… It is difficult to treat, and progress can be slow. But knowing the facets of treatment necessary for recovery provides hope that the curtain of mold related symptoms will eventually lift.

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