Mold is most often associated with allergies. When you are exposed to mold, you sneeze and your eyes itch. When you are no longer around the mold, your symptoms get better.

Then people start throwing out terms like “toxic mold” and “black mold”. So what, exactly, are they talking about?

While all molds have the potential to cause irritation and allergy symptoms, that’s not really detrimental to your long term health. So where is the line between an allergic mold and a toxic mold?

That line is defined by something called a Mycotoxin.

So What Is A Mycotoxin?

Mycotoxins, literally ‘fungus poison’ in Latin, are secondary metabolites that can be produced by molds, and are not living organisms.

They are a byproduct of mold. Not all mold spores produce mycotoxins, but some do.

So the molds that produce mycotoxins are the ones that could be categorized as “toxic”.

What Do Mycotoxins Do?

These chemical substances can cause many health problems ranging from mild to severe. Even if you are not allergic to mold, you can be affected by mycotoxins and/or biotoxins.

Biotoxins are any type of toxin produced by a living organism including mycotoxins. Biotoxins can be absorbed by the body a number of ways including: through the skin, airways, and intestinal lining.

Chronic disease sufferers, such as people with chronic Lyme disease, fibromyalgia, cancer, and other fatigue related illnesses, may be more sensitive to mycotoxins in their environment. According to Dr. Bill Rawls MD, “Mycotoxins worsen immune dysfunction associated with chronic disease and inhibit healing processes in the body.

The Mold Gene

About 25% of people have a gene called HLA-DR (human leukocyte antigen), which prevents the body from breaking down biotoxins. For people without this gene, biotoxins, including mycotoxins, are broken down by the body and removed by antibodies.

Individuals with this gene (HLA-DR) cannot produce the antibodies needed to break down even small exposures to these toxins. A simple blood or cell test is needed to determine if the gene is present.

Even for people without the gene and in good health, exposure to large amounts of mycotoxin or other biotoxins can overwhelm the immune system and cause symptoms of poisoning.

As you can see, mycotoxins can be especially dangerous for people with compromised immune systems.

Some of the symptoms associated with mycotoxins can include:

  • Chronic burning in the throat and nasal passages
  • Coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath
  • Loss of balance
  • Depression and/or anxiety
  • Dizziness
  • Eye irritation
  • Fatigue
  • Headache, light sensitivity
  • Hearing loss
  • Heightened sensitivity to chemicals and foods
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Morning stiffness, joint pain and/or muscle pain
  • Mood swings
  • Muscle weakness
  • Reduced color distinction
  • Skin rashes
  • Sleep problems
  • Slower reaction time
  • Poor memory, difficult word finding
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Unusual skin sensations, tingling and numbness
  • Appetite swings, body temperature regulation,
  • Increased urinary frequency or increased thirst
  • Red eyes, blurred vision, sweats, mood swings, sharp pains
  • Abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloating
  • Tearing, disorientation, metallic taste in mouth
  • Static shocks
  • Vertigo, feeling lightheaded

As you can see, the list is quite long! It is also not a list of symptoms that would immediately point a doctor to a specific illness.

The best way way to find out if you have been exposed to mycotoxins is to check your home for mold or have a professional inspection performed.

Call Branch Environmental. We’re experts not only at mold removal, but at determining and remediating the underlying causes. From hidden mold sources to major contaminants. We can identify exactly what is going on in your home and rid it of environmental toxins, often for good.