Have you ever wondered why you feel better when on vacation? Often apart from relaxing and taking much needed self care, you leave a potentially toxic environment that could be affecting your everyday health and presenting symptoms. This article looks at the impact of mold on your nervous system.
Sick building syndrome (SBS) also known as Sick Home Syndrome, is a condition during which a patient may notice that when they are in a particular room, building or space- they have an exacerbation of certain symptoms such as coughing, headaches, nausea, impaired cognition, tremors, tic-like motions, spastic dysphonia, lightheadedness, sinus irritation, fatigue and chest pain. This often is contributed to by poor ventilation and air conditioning, also known as “tight spaces”. Often considered in areas such as closets, basements and garages but can also include any space with poor ventilation where there is potential for water damage and leaks such as pantries, kitchens and bathrooms.
When considering SBS, one should also consider the long term consequences to such exposure. These poor ventilation areas affect air quality but also have a direct impact on the growth of certain microorganisms which can develop into a potential mycotoxin exposure. Mycotoxins are poisonous byproducts of certain types of mold (fungi) species that have a direct impact on multiple systems within the body. These species are ingested through skin contact, digestion and inhalation. When SBS is unmanaged, this can progress to the development of dampness and mold hypersensitivity syndrome (DMHS) which has a direct impact on overall immune function.
Common signs and symptoms to look out for DMHS include:
Increased susceptibility to chronic infections and illnesses with poor ability to recover
Development of multiple chemical sensitivities (ex: laundry detergents, grooming products, food additives)
Increased ability to detect mold smells in other environments or on clothing
Development of multiple food sensitivities
Intolerance to medications and supplements
DMHS has been associated with many other conditions associated with dysregulation of the autonomic nervous system including Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Small Fiber Neuropathy, Mast Cell Syndrome and Fibromyalgia and various gastro-intestinal complaints which often are comorbidities for patients diagnosed with Postural Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS). These conditions are based on the involvement of neurogenic inflammation which affects the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS), Central Nervous System (CNS) and even specific glands such as the thyroid through neuro-endocrine axis imbalance and contributes to an overall hypersensitivity of the system.
Additionally, these mycotoxin illnesses are neurotoxic, which has a direct negative impact on the nervous system- affecting levels of reactive oxygen species, damaging mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cell) and leading to a vicious cycle of inflammation. This will promote the production of the proinflammatory IL-1β cytokine, the marker of the activation of innate immunity. The innate immune system is our capacity for self healing but when overactivated, can lead to autoimmunity (attacking one’s own tissues and organ systems). The contribution of mycotoxins are associated with multiple autoimmune conditions found in patients with POTS such as an ANA (Antinuclear Antibodies) and other neuronal antibodies that alter vasoconstriction/vasodilation of tissue and blood vessels often experienced by this patient population.
If you have been diagnosed with dysautonomia, consider having mycotoxin testing as an individual (companies such as Great Plains) as well as hiring specialists to test the living environment through air sampling. It is suspected that over 50% of all homes are exposed to mold and mycotoxins can contribute to various unexplained neurological symptoms in patients across the United States. Some patients with genetic variations of (HLA-DR) gene which is present in over 25% of the population, contributes to a build up on mycotoxins in the system at a more rapid rate because it impairs the ability to natural detox from exposure.
One effective way to treat mold toxicity/mycotoxin illness is through the use of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. HBOT, which uses supplemental oxygen under pressure, is a non- invasive method for driving natural detoxification pathways as well as supporting overall immune function and tissue repair simultaneously. The high levels of oxygen have been shown to stop the growth of active mycotoxins while activating the immune system to help fight future exposures.
If you are struggling with mold toxicity issues, please contact us to schedule a consultation and discuss your treatment options.