[UPDATED SEPTEMBER 2022]
Patients who are not responding to a standard allergy work up are often suffering from mould sensitivity. This is not an easy diagnosis to make because skin prick tests for mould allergy are unreliable. Furthermore it is uncertain whether symptoms are due to allergy to moulds or to sensitivity to mould fumes. This is a little bit like yeast overgrowth in the gut - for some people this causes a problem because they are allergic to yeast and for some because they react to the products of fermentation.
Diagnosing mould allergy
The key to diagnosing mould allergy is the history and if patients are improved in a mould free or low mould environment then this is highly suggestive that moulds are a problem. In order to survive moulds have to get their water from air, therefore they do not exist either in very dry climates (which may be hot dry or cold dry), above three thousand feet where the air is too thin to hold sufficient moisture, or on sea fronts where the prevailing winds are onshore. Since moulds do not, live in oceans (too salty). Onshore winds are therefore mould free.
Therefore, to diagnose mould allergy I currently recommend that people have a two week holiday in such a mould free environment. They may have already done this and not realised that their improvement was actually due to the control of their mould allergy and ascribe improvement to other factors such as freedom from stress, or sunshine, or whatever.
In the early stages of mould allergy one often gets local symptoms such as rhinitis, conjunctivitis and sore throat, but as the symptoms become more systemic they can present with foggy brain and chronic fatigue. Patients who come to see me usually present with the latter symptoms. It is difficult to have a complete symptom list because this is a systemic illness but frequent examples include:
- Cognitive difficulties (brain fog, poor memory, anxiety)
- Pain (especially abdominal pain, but can include muscle pain similar to fibromyalgia)
- Unexplained weight gain or weight loss
- Numbness and tingling in extremities or other areas of the body
- Metallic taste in the mouth
- Vertigo or dizziness
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Digestive issues (especially limited tolerance to food, persistent bloating)
- Significant fatigue that interferes with daily activities
- Changes in mood
- Excessive thirst and dehydration, bed-wetting in children
- Symptoms that resemble hormone imbalances (hair loss, rashes)
- Shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing
- Irregular, and or fast, heartbeat, heart inflammation, internal bleeding, and blood clots
- Myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle), endocarditis (an infection of the lining of the heart), damage to the heart muscle and damage to the heart valves.
Checking the diagnosis as a possibility
You can buy kits from Sysco Environmental that:
- Mould Test Kit DIY - measure relative levels of mould growth in rooms in your house with the general environmental levels - circa £30
- Mould Test Kit Plus - measure actual levels of certain mould types - circa £200
If you find high relative levels of mould in, or around, your house, or find high actual levels of certain types of mould, then, along with a degree of suspicion, as above, one can probably confirm a diagnosis.
If, using the Mould Test Kit DIY, you find the concentration of mould spores outside is less than indoors, then you may well have a mould contamination within your property. But a high concentration of mould outdoors, with lower levels indoors is still a "problem" because it means you will be exposed to high spore levels "in and around" your property.
Treatment 1 - the best bets
The first best bet for mould allergy are Neutralisation injections, but there are only a few clinics that offer these, namely
OR, the second best bet, and I have had many patients for whom this has been an utter game changer, is to move house to a warm, dry climate, abroad.
Treatment 2 - at least try to be as free from moulds as you can
Being free from moulds in our temperate climate is extremely difficult. To reduce mould counts in houses one has to take away obvious sources, such as house plants, or cure a damp problem. The next step is to reduce the humidity inside the house to less than 40% using a dehumidifier and this will kill any moulds living in the house. Reducing the humidity is helped by trying to avoid moisture creating activities such as keeping houseplants, drying clothes, boiling pan, etc. Once the atmosphere is dried up, an air filtration system helps to get rid of the moulds in the air.
Getting the relative humidity below 40% is critically important and one can now buy a little gadget from ETI Ltd called a Digital hygro-thermometer 0.1 °C/F and 1% RH. This will tell you if you have got the humidity down to an acceptable level. Contact them on 01903 202151 or e-mail email@example.com (quote order code 810-155). This costs £16 + VAT + £3.50 P&P at time of writing. Or go here --- ETI Ltd hygro thermometers
You could try buying a filter to filter out the spores - for example - Blueair Classic 405 filter
If you feel better getting the humidity, and / or levels of spores, down, then this is another diagnostic test in the mix! All diagnosis is hypothesis confirmed by improvements in symptoms
Giles Meehan - "Get Well from ME"
Giles is a gentleman and a scholar. A number of years ago he produced a series of YouTubes which you can see here - Get Well from ME YouTube Channel
Giles has specific issues with mould and he discusses this here:
Lisa Petrison PhD
I have been interested by work done in this sphere by Lisa Petrison PhD. Please see her website located at Paradigm Change
Those signing up for occasional email updates from Paradigm Change [Paradigm Change Email Updates link] will also receive a free PDF copy of the book "Back from the Edge: How One Man's Discovery Brought Him from Desperately Sick with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome to the Top of Mt. Whitney in Six Months". This book was authored by Lisa and concerned the experiences of Erik Johnson. It is a good read.
Further to this, Lisa has kindly offered to make her new book, "A Beginner's Guide to Mold Avoidance" available free of charge to readers of this website. This book was co-authored by Lisa and Erik and will remain access free and available to download here subject,of course, to the authors' continuing and very kind consent. Here is the "Beginner's Guide to Mold Avoidance" available for download:
This firm comes recommended by many Facebook group members - see Building Forensics
Mould investigation, Mycotoxin testing, Radiation - EMF, VOCs
- Paradigm Change
- Amazon.co.uk link for "Back from the Edge"
- ETI Ltd hygro thermometers
- The Burghwood Clinic
- The Breakspear Clinic
- Salford Allergy Clinic
- Mould Test Kit DIY
- Mould Test Kit Plus
- "Mold avoidance survey"
- Get Well from ME YouTube Channel
- Giles Meehan - Mould and M.E. (CFS) - A Different World
- Paradigm Change Email Updates link
- "Heart Damage from Mold"
- Blueair Classic 405 filter
- Building Forensics
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