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Can Mold Cause Illness

Can Mold Cause Illness was Written by Dr. Diane Mueller

Mold is one of the causes of chronic inflammatory response syndrome.

Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS), also known as biotoxin illness, is a condition characterized by a range of symptoms associated with prolonged exposure to toxins produced by microorganisms. One of the illnesses related to CIRS is mold illness, which mainly occurs due to exposure to mycotoxins released by fungi found in water-damaged buildings.

Mold Illness Symptoms

Genetics and Mold Illness Symptoms

About 25% of the population may be genetically susceptible to developing an autoimmune response to exposure to mycotoxins. This susceptibility is due to the increased activity of the Human Leukocyte Antigen-antigen D Related (HLA-DR) that determines disease susceptibility and resistance in hosts. Increased activity of HLA-DR results in a higher susceptibility to new exposure and tissue/blood inflammation. Inflammation resulting from CIRS and mycotoxins can cause the following symptoms:

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Symptoms of Mold Illness

  • Fatigue, joint pain, muscle cramps, unusual pain, and headaches
  • Blurred vision, tears, increased sensitivity to light, and red eyes
  • Cough, sinus problems, and shortness of breath
  • Memory issues, focus issues, disorientation, and difficulty in acquiring new
  • Appetite swings, mood swings, and skin sensitivity
  • Temperature regulation issues, sweats, excessive thirst, and frequent urination
  • Static shock, tingling, vertigo, tremors, numbness, and a constant metallic


Testing for Mold In Your Body

If anyone in your family is showing these symptoms, it’s important to have them evaluated for mold illness. Below are some of the available laboratory tests for identifying mold exposure and susceptibility.

  • HLA-DR Mold Genetic Testing – a blood test used to determine genetic susceptibility to mold infection. It helps develop plans to break the cycle of chronic inflammation that develops after initial exposure in susceptible individuals and helps avoid ongoing illness. Laboratory tests recommended by Dr. Shoemaker (com) that measure several biomarkers of exposure, including:
  • Visual Contrast Sensitivity (VCS) test – a neurological test that determines an individual’s ability to see at decreasing levels of contrast. Biotoxins reduce blood flow throughout the optic nerve, affecting this ability.
  • Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide (VIP) test – the VIP hormone affects major organs, including the brain, gut, and lungs. It results in low levels of melanocyte-stimulating hormones (MSH), responsible for appetite and sexual desire.
  • Leptin – a hormone that aids in fat storage, responsible for obesity in CIRS patients. Elevated levels of leptin in the blood suggest advanced inflammation.
  • Anti-Diuretic Hormone (ADH/Vasopressin) – a hormone responsible for water retention and vasoconstriction. Other biomarkers include: Osmolality (serum), ACTH & Cortisol AM, Testosterone, DHEA-S, Estradiol MMP9, TGF-B1, and Anti-gliadin antibodies. NeuroQuant – a technique that uses a computer and MRI to evaluate fifteen regions of the brain. Inflammation arising from CIRS causes significant changes in the structure and volume of white and gray matter, creating a unique pattern.
While all of these tests can be useful, they are not specific for mold. Therefore, we recommend the urinary mycotoxin test above all other tests for mold.

Removing Mold From Your Home


If one family member has been found to be exposed to mold, it is important to seek medical help for them and also eliminate the mold from the building. The first step is to identify the source of the mold exposure using an Environmental Relative Mold Index (ERMI) test, which analyzes a sample of dust from the home. If the home tests positive for mycotoxins, there are several steps to take in order to get rid of them:

  1. Remove the source of moisture and dispose of water-damaged items such as carpets,
    furniture, and upholstery.
  2. Clean and disinfect surfaces using EPA-approved anti-fungal agents.
  3. Repair any faults that could cause water damage, such as flat roofs or faulty
    crawl spaces.
  4. Hire a professional to clean the HVAC system.
  5. Use dry-brushing or dry-ice blasting to remove mold from solid surfaces.
  6. Use HEPA vacuums to clean up debris for disposal.

To prevent mold exposure in the home, take the following measures:

  1. Repair and maintain roof gutters and faucets to prevent water leakage.
  2. Use a quality air purifier and propolis vaporizer to reduce microbes in the
    indoor environment.
  3. Check crawl spaces and drainage systems frequently.
  4. Treat exposed wood with fungicidal coatings approved by the EPA.

For those with mold illness and elevated mycotoxins, treatment options include natural remedies such as glutathione, Omega-3 fats, and extracts from artichoke leaves, as well as prescription drugs like Cholestyramine or Welchol that bind to mycotoxins.  LDN can be used to lower inflammation.  Other products such as activated charcoal, chitosan, chlorella, clay, and other remedies can also be used to bind to the mycotoxins. 

We know mold causes illness, especially those who are genetically susceptible.  It is important to consult with a skilled functional medicine doctor to determine the best course of action for treating mold-related issues.

For More On Mold Illness Symptoms, See our Blog Below:


  2. Vesper, S. J., Mckinstry, C., Haugland, R. A., Iossifova, Y., Lemasters, G., Levin, L., & Reponen, T. (2007). Relative moldiness index as predictor of childhood respiratory illness. Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology, 17(1), 88-94.
  3. Brandt, M., Brown, C., Burkhart, J., Burton, N., Cox-Ganser, J., Damon, S., & Morgan, J. (2006). Mold prevention strategies and possible health effects in the aftermath of hurricanes and major floods. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 55, 1-27.
  4. Jouany, J. P. (2007). Methods for preventing, decontaminating and minimizing the toxicity of mycotoxins in feeds. Animal Feed Science and Technology, 137(3), 342-362.
  5. Hope, J. H., & Hope, B. E. (2011). A review of the diagnosis and treatment of Ochratoxin A inhalational exposure associated with human illness and kidney disease including focal segmental glomerulosclerosis. Journal of environmental and public health, 2012.

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