Tag Archives: mold spores

Catch Up Mondays: Mold Spores, Mycotoxins, and Cross Contamination

I originally posted this on August 27th, 2012.  As I read or hear from more and more people about being contaminated by mold, I decided it was time to share this post again.  Mold is insidious.  It gets into and onto everything including those things that we hold most dear like a favorite stuffed animal from childhood, a well-loved book, and our precious photos.  Some of you have heard this talk from me many times about giving things away.  I have heard from some that all I needed to do was place my things out in the sunshine or wash them in borax or vinegar.  For me the decision was my things or my health.  I had gone through so much by the time I was told that it was best for me to give up my things.  I didn’t want to go down that road again and risk another contamination.  I offer what I and some others have done but ultimately the decision is up to the individual.  Some have managed to keep some items and not others.  This is such an individual illness.

Many of you living in the US have seen the commercial on mesothelioma.  It talks about if you or a loved one was exposed to asbestos either directly or indirectly  you could experience this form of cancer.  It has taken years for asbestos and the damage it can cause to finally come to the forefront and for these cancers to show up.

When trying to explain cross contamination from mycotoxins and mold spores, I ask if the person I am talking to has seen this commercial.  I explain that it is very similar.  I was exposed to mold spores and mycotoxins where I worked.  I wore those clothes home and sat on my furniture, walked on my carpet, lay down on my bed, sat in my car and those same spores were spread into the air as I walked around the room.  Those aerosolized spores then were sucked in to my computer fan, my refrigerator fan, my air conditioning ducts and anything else that has a fan or takes in air.  I was constantly being re-exposed at work and then through cross contamination in my home and car.

After getting the results from my urine tricothecene test, I was told that I needed to get rid of my things (clothes, computer, cloth furniture, papers).  I was told this just as I was about to make my second trip to the Environmental Health Center-Dallas for testing and to have major surgery.  I ordered new clothes and was told that until I left and something could be done with regard to my furniture that I could cover the furniture with sheets to help protect whatever new I had bought.  I had no idea that I would be in Dallas for most of 2003.  When I came home my husband had built me a new house using safe products, tile floors, etc.  Before coming home I ordered new clothes again and would only come home with the clothes on my back and toss them and shower before coming into my house.  I was determined not to cross-contaminate my safe place.  I did not bring my computer, refrigerator, television, cloth furniture, papers or clothes.  I literally started over.

When I tell those who have asked me questions or sought advice about such things that they need to basically start over, it is overwhelming and hard for them to comprehend.  I remind them that they are just “things” and their health and recovery is more important than “things”.  I understand their pain at getting rid of their belongings.  I understand their fear of re-contamination.  In my book I wrote:

On February 11, 2004, I wrote in my journal, “I hate this aspect of my life. It causes the paranoia. I am so afraid of re-infecting myself that I wonder: even if the allergies get more manageable, will I be able to go out anyway because of this fear of mold and mycotoxin? It has already taken so much of my life away.

I also wrote:  I saw Rick toss out my old stuffed Scotty dog that I had had since I was very little. I saw him toss out my favorite old teddy bear. I saw him pack up old blankets, cloth Christmas decorations, baby clothes that belonged to the girls, baby clothes that were once worn by me. It was devastating!

This illness goes beyond the physical pain of reactions and extends to the raw emotions of getting rid of cherished belongings, being told you are crazy, being told environmental illness and multiple chemical sensitivity does not exist and of learning to deal with isolation and a new way of living.

Mesothelioma Awareness – September 26th

On August 27, 2012 I wrote a post titled Mold Spores, Mycotoxins and Cross Contamination.  In this post a related a commercial here that has run on the television about how family members can be ill from coming in contact with asbestos on the clothes of family members who worked with asbestos.  My post was trying to say that they “get it” in terms of cross contamination with asbestos but the public just doesn’t get the cross contamination of mycotoxins and mold spores just yet.

About a week ago I received an email through the contact portion of my website.  The email was a heartfelt message from a man whose wife is a “rare” Mesothelioma survivor.  He asked not for donations, time, or money but if I would be willing to share his wife story.  September 26th is National Mesothelioma Awareness Day.  I am not able to make changes to my website but offered to share her story here on my blog.  I am aware of the prognosis of someone being diagnosed with Mesothelioma and it is not good.   I am also amazed at those that continue to survive long past the normal diagnosed lifespan.   We have a tenant that has outlived his diagnosis with Methoselioma.

Please watch the video clip of Heather Von St. James.  In the clip she talks about preferring to live with hope.  I talk a lot about survival, courage, and hope.  Heather’s story is definitely one of survival, courage, and hope.


Catch Up Mondays: Mycotoxins – revisited

This was first posted on August 23, 2012.  I still find that many understand what a mold spore is but have no idea what mycotoxins are and how dangerous they are to the body.  When I met with a traditional allergist almost a year ago he didn’t want to believe me about the molds, mycotoxins, and my illness or sensitivities.  One of the questions he asked was, “Do you even know what a mycotoxin is?”.  Of course as soon as I began saying what it was, he didn’t want to hear it.

When I first became ill and we realized that I was being exposed to mold and had an allergy as well, I thought ok so that is what is making me so sick.  I had no idea about molds and their byproduct, mycotoxins.  I learned that yes the mold can make you sick and cause allergic reactions but the mycotoxins are even worse.

Molds produce mycotoxins which are poisonous to our bodies, can cause multiple illnesses and death. In September 2002 I had my lymphocyte panel checked again.  My numbers were not good.  The mold mycotoxins were still very much attacking my body.  A urine Tricothecene test was ordered to determine what my level was.    The test revealed that my level was an 8.  The best being 0-1 and the worst being 18.  I was diagnosed as having mycotoxicosis referring to the poisoning from exposure to mycotoxins.  The mycotoxins can potentially cause acute and chronic health effects including weakened immune systems  from ingestion, skin contact and inhalation.

Two years later while on a return visit to the Environmental Health Center-Dallas, Dr. Rea told me about another test for mycotoxins using DNA testing on mucous and or tissue samples.  I became ill with a sinus infection while there and we collected mucous from the sinus and had it tested.  The machine detects DNA of molds and mycotoxins.  We were checking for Tricothecene since that was high in my urine.  The lowest detectable level of the machine is .02 ppb.  The level in my sinuses was quite high at 11.54 ppb.  Dr. Rea then suggested that I speak with the doctor doing this test about checking tissue of my ovaries taken during my hysterectomy in 2003.

As soon as I returned home I contacted the hospital in Dallas and requested that samples be sent to the Environmental Health Center for testing.  The report I got back was unbelievable.  The level of mycotoxins in my ovary was 125 ppb.  The sample had to be diluted because there was so much the machine couldn’t count it.  No wonder I was sick.  No wonder the count went down right after the hysterectomy and I became so sick from ridding my body too quickly of the mycotoxins.

Since that time my urine Tricothecene level has bounced back and forth.  It seems to be higher when my fungal sinus infections are bad because the fungus has taken over my sinuses.  The Tricothecenes are stuck in my cells (kind of like velcro is how it was explained to me) and periodically I am able to release them.

There are many different mycotoxins produced by different species of molds.

What does flea medicine and antifungals have in common?

What does flea medicine and antifungals have in common?  What an odd question you might ask.  Well when treating animals for fleas, the medication only kills the live fleas and usually does not kill the eggs.  For this reason animals may have to be treated more than once to get rid of the fleas as the eggs continue to  hatch.

Antifungals work on the same principle.  Antifungals kill off the live fungi but does not deal with all spores that have yet to germinate and become live.  I have been treating myself with one type of antifungal or another for years.  In the beginning the fungal infection was so bad that I would experience herxheimer reactions when taking even the smallest amount of an antifungal and go into an anaphylactic reaction.

A herxheimer reaction sometimes just called a Herx is when the bacteria, or fungus in my case, start dying off they release endotoxins.  If more endotoxins are released than the body can rid itself of severe symptoms can occur.  Some of these symptoms can be fever, chills, headache, and hyperventilation.  For me the symptoms were tightness in the chest, difficulty breathing, stomach cramps, coughing, the feeling that my throat was constricted and dizziness.  More than once I had to rely on an epi-pen (epinephrine in an injectable pen) to stop the reactions and calm things down.  Of course, the downside of taking epinephrine is a faster heart rate, possible dizziness or light headedness, headache and tremors.  I had to take the epinephrine to stop one set of symptoms but then got another set in exchange.

Recently we decided to see how little antifungal I needed to avoid having a return of a major sinus infection.  I was originally on 400 mg. of compounded Miconazole.  I dropped to 300 and waited a month.  I was still ok so we dropped it to 200 for a month and I was still ok.  I dropped it to 100 mg and within a week my sinuses were inflamed and I had the beginning of an infection so we immediately put it back to 200 mg. and I am doing fine so far.

I had heard years ago when I first started researching mold, mycotoxins, illness, etc. that many people had to stay on some kind of maintenance dose the rest of their lives and found it difficult to believe.  I am now a believer.  The downside to antifungals is that you need to monitor your liver.  So far everything seems to be fine with mine.