10 Warning Signs of Mold Toxicity: Our Mold Illness Story

This post is about 10 warning signs of mold toxicity.

10 warning signs of mold toxicity

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I’m going to start off by saying that this post is a little hard for me to write… a bit triggering. One of the main reasons I started this blog is because of my family’s experience with mold toxicity. I saw how you could do all the things right with your diet and purchases but still have your life and health ripped apart because of hidden mold. I wanted to write a blog that helped people focus on the major things while having a grace filled way to research the little things, that also matter, but perhaps make a smaller impact on their health (for instance, I think it’s ideal to wear cotton underwear but wearing polyester underwear is less likely to wreck your health as much as living in mold is and yet so many don’t make very sure that they aren’t living in mold).

Our Personal Mold Toxicity Story

Before I share about 10 warning signs of mold toxicity, I’d like to share my family’s personal mold story and some of our symptoms of mold toxicity. We bought our beautiful and perfect home in 2014. Our home is in the perfect neighborhood on the perfect street. The house passed inspection with flying colors and we had zero signs of mold during all the years we lived there.

About 3 years after moving in, one of our sons, who had just turned 4, suddenly started having VERY STRANGE and scary behavior. The behavior was risky, sometimes violent, and made no sense. His whole personality changed in an instant and he would constantly have hour long episodes where he was out of his mind and he would go non-verbal and he couldn’t be reasoned with. In addition to psych and behavioral issues he also had a lot of bowel and stomach issues, wet the bed nightly, and a lot of allergic reactions.

We spent 5 years going from doctor to doctor. By the time he was 9 he had a whole team of medical professionals. We tried prescription meds, every supplement the doctors recommended, numerous therapies, all the diets… I have always been very naturally minded, to the extent that I even breast fed my adopted sons but it was like nothing I did made a difference… except that we found when we would do the occasional parasite cleanse and detox we would find a few months of relief but then the symptoms would return with a vengeance.

We also saw noticed a STRONG seasonal pattern. My son’s absolute worst month every year was in October. The first two years I thought maybe it was a coincidence but after 5 or 6 years of data I knew that it couldn’t be coincidence that at the change of every season his flares became extremely severe.

After so many tests showing inflammation and brain inflammation our son was finally diagnosed with PANS. The diagnosis and symptoms of PANS (Pediatric Acute Onset Neuro-psychiatric Syndrome) fit him to a “t” but we still couldn’t figure out the source of our son’s PANS. He tested negative (or barely positive) for everything that normally causes PANS (strep, viruses, lymes, mold, parasites). We even had him tested for mycotoxins (mold) and he barely had one type of mold in his body, definitely not enough to say that that was causing his PANS.

Just to rule mold out as the cause of our son’s PANS I also hired a mold inspector from a Facebook ad I saw that included an inspection and an air test. Remember, we saw no mold in our home and smelled no mold- this was just to rule it out. The mold test also came back fine and the inspector didn’t find anything concerning.

Fast forward to February 2022 when our son’s PANS was so extreme that my husband had to quit his job as an ICU nurse to help take care of our son. His PANS was now so extreme that I was having suicidal thoughts. Every moment of every day was pure hell. Nobody could ever imagine how miserable it could be to live with a person with PANS until they are actually living it. You are a prisoner to that person… they don’t want to leave the house or even the couch and are unpredictable and dangerous if you leave them unattended so you always have to stay a few feet away.

They make no sense and scream at you all day. They have blood sugar issues and need food but food rejection is a common symptom of the disease. They have OCD so often they do things like spit or throw or yell the same word over and over. They don’t want to shower or change their clothes. They go into flares where they can become violent and throw things or hurt you… It is extreme but they are also your family and your child and you know it is their illness and not them so you keep trying things, you keep loving them and showing patience, you do everything you can to care for them and care for the rest of your family (hence my husband coming home so one of us could be on sick child duty and the other could care for the other kids). You ask for help from schools and doctors and your church but nobody understands PANS so nobody knows how to really help you… you’re alone and there’s no break.

In February of 2022 I got a whiff of mold as I walked by one of our vents. In that moment I knew that we had a hidden mold problem and that must be what was making our son sick. I tried to get our son to come with me and stay somewhere else for the night but he freaked out because he didn’t want our family to be seperated (separation anxiety is another symptom of PANS) so the whole family hopped in the car with only their backpacks and clothes for school and we went to a hotel. That was the last day we lived in our home for 19 months.

After moving out I started doing deep deep research into local mold inspectors and mold remediators. I searched google, yelp, Facebook groups, and called local holistic doctors to ask who their recovered (from mold illness) patients had used. I called the people I narrowed it down to and interviewed them and asked for references. I narrowed it down to two mold inspectors/remediators. Both “teams” came down the same day. The first one was a single guy that was recommended and traveled 2 hours down to do an inspection. He cost $1,200. He found a few spots (that we pointed out because they were water spots on the ceiling of our sun room). The next team came 2 hours later and there were 3 of them. They found SOOOOOO much hidden mold: in our crawl space, in each bathroom, in the sun room, in the kitchen and laundry room… This team said we basically needed to gut the whole house.

We weighed our options and because of interest rates and the state of the housing market we decided that made the most sense long term to take a big leap of faith and gut, remediate, and re-build as opposed to sell as is and buy something different. Insurance only paid $5k and then they dropped us and the only other insurance that would pick us up is now $500 MORE a month added to our mortgage.

Remediation took about 4 months and then we took another 8 months to work on re-building to the point we could move back in. In January of 2022 (11 months after finding the mold) we thought we were close to moving in but we did more research and hired another mold remediator that sounded highly qualified to do our post-remediation testing and inspection. They found MORE mold… more areas in the bathrooms, they said the crawl space still had mold and needed a sump pump and french drains, mold in the attic over the garage, more mold in the sun room… GAH! By this point our loan money and all savings had run out so we then spent another 9 months remediating the new findings ourselves (our new remediators were amazing and taught us how and checked our work as we went).

In September of 2023- about 19 months after the nightmare started we were finally cleared to move back into our home. We were declared mold free!

Backtracking a little… once we moved out of the home, we were homeless for a few months- hopping around from place to place and living out of garbage bags of clothes- until our church provided a new townhouse for us to live in. It was brand new and mold free. I discovered a way to detox the body from biotoxin illnesses after learning from Dr. Jess Peatross’s course on mold and biotoxin illness. The bottom line was that all biotoxin illness is treated the same: open the drainage pathways, kill the pathogens, bind the toxins, and then remove them from the body via the drainage pathways. She recommended Cell Core products. We decided to go all out and we started our son on the Cell Core Comprehensive Phases. These phases are simply kits of supplements that you do in order. They are very simple to follow- just pills and tinctures that you take daily.

We saw almost immediate results after our son started on the Cell Core phases. I think that he really needed his drainage pathways open and that was what the first phase of Cell Core does. Moving out of mold alone did nothing for my son and if anything he got worse when we moved out and I also had heart palpitations when we first moved out. Around month 9 we saw pretty much total healing of our son from PANS. We are at about month 18 now since he started the supplements and he is a whole different child: no rage ever, he showers and takes care of himself without being asked to, never wets the bed, off of all meds and laxatives, goes to bed at bed time without being asked, no more OCD, no more allergic reactions. The only thing we see lingering is some social anxiety and separation anxiety but it is minor and he started going to church youth group and a homeschool co-op and playing on sports teams so we are beyond thrilled.

Before I move on to 10 signs of mold toxicity that people most commonly experience, I wanted to add some of the symptoms that the rest of my family experienced. We did not know these symptoms were from mold because we didn’t know we were living in mold but now that we are not living in mold and everyone has had almost two years to heal I can tell these symptoms were from mold because everyone is completely different.

Symptoms My Family (My son with PANS plus my other 4 kids and my husband and I) experienced:

  • Constipation
  • Bed Wetting
  • Extreme Anxiety & Panic Attacks
  • Depression
  • Allergic Reactions & Hives and Rashes
  • OCD
  • Anger & Rage
  • Weight Gain
  • Allergic Shiners & Eye Infections
  • Insulin Resistance and Hypoglycemia
  • Leaky Gut
  • High Inflammation in the body & brain (measured by lab tests)
  • Heightened ADHD Symptoms
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue: Couldn’t work out for more than 10 minutes
  • Muscle Loss
  • Separation Anxiety
  • Foggy Thinking
  • Migraines
  • Paranoia
  • Pain, tingling, and itching in the chest
  • Aging: My husband’s hair went completely white and grey and my face aged A LOT

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10 Warning Signs of Mold Toxicity in General:

Respiratory Issues:

Mold spores can trigger respiratory problems such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. If you find yourself frequently battling unexplained respiratory issues, mold may be a culprit.

Persistent Fatigue:

Mold toxicity is known to cause chronic fatigue. If you’re experiencing prolonged periods of tiredness despite adequate rest, it’s worth considering the environmental factors in your living or working spaces.

Headaches and Migraines:

Mold exposure is associated with headaches and migraines. If you notice an increase in the frequency and intensity of these issues, it’s essential to investigate potential mold sources.

Skin Issues:

Mold toxicity can manifest in various skin problems, including rashes, itching, or hives. Persistent skin concerns without a clear cause may warrant a closer look at your surroundings.

Rage/Behavioral Issues/Mental Illness

The first thing I think when I hear someone’s child is dealing with rage, mental illness, or strange behaviors is: MOLD! These behaviors are not normal for a child and usually the results of brain inflammation that is the result of either trauma or of a biotoxin illness/exposure.

Memory and Concentration Issues:

Mold toxicity is linked to cognitive impairment, affecting memory and concentration. If you’re experiencing brain fog, difficulty focusing, or memory lapses, mold exposure might be a contributing factor.

Muscle and Joint Pain:

Mold toxins can contribute to inflammation, leading to muscle and joint pain. If you’re grappling with unexplained aches and pains, mold in your environment could be a potential culprit.

Digestive Problems:

Mold toxicity may impact the digestive system, causing issues like nausea, diarrhea, or abdominal pain. If gastrointestinal problems persist, investigating potential mold sources becomes crucial.

Increased Sensitivity to Light:

Mold toxicity can heighten sensitivity to light, leading to discomfort or eye irritation. If you find yourself more sensitive to light than usual, it’s worth considering environmental factors.

Heightened Allergic Responses & Sinus Issues:

Mold exposure often triggers or exacerbates allergies. If you notice an increase in allergic reactions such as sneezing, watery eyes, or nasal congestion, mold may be playing a role. Chronic sinus congestion, nasal stuffiness, or frequent sinus infections can be indicative of mold-related issues. Mold spores can irritate the nasal passages and contribute to ongoing sinus problems.

How to Test for Mold: 10 Warning Signs of Mold Toxicity

VCS Mold Screening Test

This is a simple computer based vision screening test that is recommended by many holistic practitioners. It’s hard to say how accurate it is but I took it when I first got out of mold and it indicated mold and it showed biotoxin toxicity and I just took it again a few minutes ago and it still showed I had an issue… I myself never used supplements/cell core products to detox because we couldn’t afford to detox more than one person at a time so there’s a chance I still need to detox more but take this test as a tool but not as a conclusive piece of evidence.

Mycotoxin Test from Great Plains Labs

This is the gold standard test used by the best holistic practitioners to test if the body has mold toxicity. It is a urine test so the idea is that the body would excrete myxotoxins (toxins from mold) out of the body and through the urine. The issue with this test and any like it is that if someone is very ill their drainage pathways will be blocked and they will not urinate out the mycotoxins and then you’ll get a false negative. This is what happened to our son. We felt a false sense of security because his results were fine. If they had come back showing high levels of mycotoxins then we would have immediately known to look harder for mold in our home. If you choose to use this lab as a diagnostic tool I recommend you first take supplements to open your drainage pathways for a few weeks. As I mentioned, I’m a big fan of Cell Core products for this.

Test Your Home for Mold Using an ERMI

There is a lot of controversy over the accuracy of ERMI tests to test homes for mold but all I can say is out of all of these tests we did for mold in our home and in our body, this was by far the most accurate test. It showed we had high levels of many molds and we did. Having the ERMI results to show the inspectors allowed them to know where to look and how hard to look. I am a big fan of the ERMI as a firs step when testing for mold.

Use a Mold Remediator or Inspector or Mold Dog to Find the Mold

The #1 best thing you can do if you suspect mold, based off of symptoms, visual cues, or a smell is to research a LOT and hire one or two mold inspectors to find the mold. Hiring a mold inspector is really tricky. Here are some steps I suggest to finding the best person in your area:

  • Google “Mold Inspector Near Me” and then go through all the listings and vet them (I’ll include things to look for below).
  • Google “Mold Remediator Near Me” and vet each option
  • Go to local FB groups and search “Mold remediator” and “Mold inspector” and look for comments, whose name comes up a lot in a positive way… follow the trail and vet.
  • Call a few local holistic doctors and ask if they have any patients that they have helped heal from mold illness and if so, ask who their patients used for remediation (assuming they had a successful remediation that led to healing).
  • I have found that mold remediators are better inspectors that mold inspectors and they charge less for the inspection. This is like having a surgeon be better at finding cancer than a general practitioner. The surgeon knows better where to look.
  • Look for mold remediators/environmental specialists (basically an environmental specialists also knows how to deal with other toxin removals beyond mold) that have personal experience with mold illness- themselves or family. Having personal experience takes the level of care and compassion to a whole other level. I bet I could find mold in a home better than 75% of the mold inspectors you could hire because of my intimate personal experience with it.
  • I have found that the companies you want to hire are usually married couples that run a company together are the best- just my personal experience… they usually are a team and then they have a team that works with them.
  • I have found the best people often have the worst websites and do not come off as salesy but they do talk about mold illness on their website and in their phone conversations… their primary focus will be health as opposed to getting a job done or being known as “the best.” They will care first about health.
  • Research the proper steps for remediation and testing and then ask each person you vet about their process and just listen for them to say things like that line up with the proper procedures (like using containment and air blowers during remediation).
  • Air testing is not adequate. The visual inspection along with swab tests are going to be what you want. Air testing can help but it is often misleading. The quality of the inspector is more important than the results of an air test.
  • A lot of people in the mold illness community have had great success using this company for their mold dog services. If you can not find a local inspector you feel great about you might want to consider running an ERMI test and hiring the mold dog and going from there.

Conclusion: 10 Warning Signs of Mold Toxicity

Mold toxicity comes in so many packages. There are many more than 10 warning signs of mold toxicity. I hope my personal experience, our warning signs and steps to healing, along with the ten more common warning signs help you take steps you need to identify what might be going on with your health or the health of someone you love. Remeber that although it is often the home that creates mold exposure that places of work, schools, churches, and dorms are also VERY often found to have toxic mold. Also please take away that one of the best things you can do to move toward healing (a step very often overlooked) is to open your drainage pathways (meaning- pooping often, peeing, sweating, your lymphatic system working well, your liver and gall bladder working well, and your brain clearing toxins well). Often people take the steps to get well but can’t because their body is clogged and can’t clear the toxins (this is what happened to my son and why we were in a loop for so long).

I wish you so much healing and hope on your journey. -Ash

This post was about 10 warning signs of mold toxicity.

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