by Dr. Sarah Myhill MB BS
Patients who are not responding to a standard allergy work up are often suffering from mold sensitivity. This is not an easy diagnosis to make because skin prick tests for mold allergy are unreliable. Furthermore it is uncertain whether symptoms are due to allergy to molds or to sensitivity to mold fumes. This is a little bit like yeast overgrowth in the gut - for some people this causes a problem because they are allergic to yeast and for some because they react to the products of fermentation.
The best bet for mold allergy is neutralisation and provocation injections, but there are only a few clinics that offer these,a namely The Burghwood Clinic (Dr Shideh Pouria), the Airedale Clinic (Dr Apelles Econ), The Breakspear Clinic (Dr Munro,) and Dr David Freed in Salford, Manchester. (Ed: US - Dr. William Rea, Environmental Health Center - Dallas)
The key to diagnosing mold allergy is the history and if patients are improved in a mold free or low mold environment then this is highly suggestive that molds are a problem (Ed: test your home using EC3 Mold Screening Test Plates). In order to survive molds have to get their water from air, therefore they do not exist either in very dry climates (which may be hot dry or cold dry), above three thousand feet where the air is too thin to hold sufficient moisture, or on sea fronts where the prevailing winds are onshore. Since molds do not, live in oceans (too salty). Onshore winds are therefore mold free.
Therefore, to diagnose mold allergy I currently recommend that people have a two week holiday in such a mold free environment. They may have already done this and not realised that their improvement was actually due to the control of their mold allergy and ascribe improvement to other factors such as freedom from stress, or sunshine, or whatever.
Being free from molds in our temperate climate is extremely difficult. To reduce mold counts in houses one has to take away obvious sources, such as house plants, or cure a damp problem. The next step is to reduce the humidity inside the house to less than 40% using a dehumidifier and this will kill any molds living in the house. Reducing the humidity is helped by trying to avoid moisture creating activities such as keeping houseplants, drying clothes, boiling pan, etc. Once the atmosphere is dried up, an air filtration system helps to get rid of the molds in the air. Visit the website of the Healthy House, who do a range of excellent products.
(Ed: For US readers, Micro Balance Health Products offer a comprehensive, all-natural range of mold treatment products for both environment and body)
In the early stages of mold allergy one often gets local symptoms such as rhinitis, conjunctivitis and sore throat, but as the symptoms become more systemic they can present with foggy brain and chronic fatigue. Patients who come to see me usually present with the latter symptoms.
"Mold Avoidance Manual"
I have been interested by work done in this sphere by Lisa Petrison PhD. Please see her website located at Paradigm Change .Those signing up for occasional email updates from Paradigm Change will also receive a free PDF copy of the book "Back from the Edge: How One Man's Discovery Brought Him from Desperately Sick with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome to the Top of Mt. Whitney in Six Months" (also available for Amazon Kindle - please see here Amazon.com link for "Back from the Edge"). This book was authored by Lisa and concerned the experiences of Erik Johnson. It is a good read. Further to this, Lisa has kindly offered to make her new book, "A Beginner's Guide to Mold Avoidance" available free of charge to readers of this website. This book was co-authored by Lisa and Erik and will remain access free and available to download here subject,of course, to the authors' continuing and very kind consent. Furthermore, Lisa is currently working on putting together a preliminary report from the responses to a "mold avoidance survey" she has been conducting and it will be very interesting to see the results of this, when available. Please watch Lisa's website and here for news of that too! Here is the "Beginner's Guide to Mold Avoidance" available for download: