How I am Surviving Mold: Confessions from a Holistic Physician
You could say it started over 50 years ago, as I was born genetically predisposed to having a chronic inflammatory response when exposed to the interior of a water-damaged building (CIRS-WDB). I recently have come to realize the effects mold exposure has had on my health. I previously had thought that my nagging symptoms such as muscle aches, joint pains, insomnia, and anxiety were the normal effects of getting older. However, now I realize that all of these symptoms manifest when I am exposed to mold and other inflammagens found in the interiors of water-damaged buildings. I was initially diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in 1978 when I was a sophomore in college. Over the past thirty plus years, I would have flares of my illness that seemed to occur randomly. Now, I recognize that even my Crohn’s disease is a consequence of mold exposure. Moreover, by being vigilant to mold exposure, my health and overall quality of life has increased significantly.
Understanding My Environmental Exposures
Upon recognizing my mold related problems, my first order of business was determining where my mold exposure was coming from. I hired an Indoor Environmental Professional (IEP) to check for mold, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other inflammagens in my home and my office. The IEP did many tests including air samples, swab samples, mycotoxin analysis and visual inspections. The IEP was not only looking for toxic substances resulting from water damage, but also attempting to determine the source of the water damage. Please note that if an IEP confirms bacteria or mold in your space, you must employ a remediation plan to remove (very carefully) all of the inflammagens in your environments. This may include discarding papers, cardboard, rugs, or other contaminated objects. You may need to remove and replace walls, ceilings and floors. You must also remediate the reason (moisture) that created the environmental problem in the first place. Your remediation plan may require HVAC professionals, plumbers, and contractors.
To ensure that the quality of air in my home and office was clean, before remediation, I placed air purifiers and multistage air filters throughout both locations. These essential devices are able to remove up to 99.7% of air contaminants in a process to filter and remove particles and hence, significantly improve my air quality.
The Avoidance Plan
Environmental studies show that up to 50% of all buildings have unhealthy air quality. If you are genetically susceptible to mold illness, it is imperative that you avoid places like libraries, antique stores, gyms, or other contaminated buildings that can have dangerous conditions. If you think you see mold, smell a musty or moldy odor, or you start to develop symptoms, get away from this unhealthy environment ASAP.
A very useful device to help protect you if you do encounter bad environmental conditions is a personal ionizer. This amazing technology is small, discreet, but most importantly, it emits a constant stream of negative ions that successfully force airborne pollutants away from my personal space ensuring a zone of clean, healthy air.
As I began my mold avoidance strategy, my health immediately began to improve. My nagging symptoms have diminished significantly. Additionally, my sense of smell has become much more sensitive to mold and other inflammagens allowing me to more easily identify and avoid moldy environments.
The Great Outdoors and Other “Your Mamma Care” Advice
My healing journey to survive mold has truly helped me appreciate the importance of a few very simple “rules” to follow. In fact, I have concluded that there are five things that you must do to survive mold and to be healthy. These are the five things that your mother always tells you to do; eat right, get plenty of sleep, breath fresh air, expose yourself to sunlight and exercise properly. I wrote about this very important notion in a previous blog titled “Your Mama Care”.
Your mother stressed the significance of you eating a healthy diet. You must be meticulous and wise in educating yourself about the value of eliminating fast foods, sugar, and artificial chemicals from your diet. You must also abandon the misconception that “low-fat, “heart-healthy” diets are best and instead eat plenty of foods that contain healthy fats and cholesterol such as meat, fish and eggs. Mom also stresses that you must get plenty of sleep. A minimum of 7-8 hours of sleep each night (preferably in pitch black) will help restore your hypothalamic functions and circadian rhythms. Additionally, natural sunlight during the daytime hours has positive effects on your immune system, your hormones and your nervous system. Spending time outdoors and breathing in fresh air on a sunny day is perhaps one of the best therapies available to help you survive mold. Lastly, appropriate levels of exercise (preferably outdoors) are vital to your recovery from mold.
If you have chronic, recurring symptoms like fatigue, brain fog, muscle and joint pain, non-restorative sleep, headaches, mood issues, chronic infections, multiple chemical sensitivities, then you may be among the 24% of the population that is genetically predisposed to mold related illnesses (CIRS-WDB). Surviving mold may be one of the biggest challenges of your life. I feel very fortunate that because of my training with Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker (one of the foremost experts in CIRS-WDB), I was easily able to recognize my precarious situation and then take the necessary steps to improve my health. However, many other factors need to be addressed in your fight to survive mold and recover your health. Therefore, you must work with a doctor, like me that is trained and experienced in TheShoemakerMethod and is able to diagnose and treat this highly complex and poorly understood illness recently identified as CIRS-WDB.
Have you been exposed to a moldy, water damaged building? Do you have an unusual cluster of symptoms? Have you been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia or other poorly understood conditions without relief of your symptoms? Contact Dr. Rothman by calling 732-268-7663 and establish a scientific plan proven to help you get to the root of your problems and survive mold.