- Sinus Health and Allergies: Mold & Mildew
- What is mold and where is it found?
- Could my sinus infections be caused by a mold allergy?
- Is there mold in my house?
- How can I prevent the onset of sinus infections caused by mold?
- Mold in Your Nose and Chronic Sinusitis
- The Nasal Mechanism
- Mold Spores in Our Noses: Infections
- Systemic Mycotoxin Poisoning
- Mold Hygiene and Prevention
- Fungal Sinus Infection: Overview, Symptoms, Causes, and Testing
- Recurring Fungal Sinus Infection: Overview, Symptoms, Causes, and Testing
- Symptoms of Fungal Sinus Infection
- Causes of Sinus Infections
- Current Methods of Testing for Reoccurring Sinus Infection
- Xplore-PATHO Testing
- What is sinusitis?
- Treatment of chronic sinusitis due to allergy
- Household Mold: Control Moisture to Control Allergies
- Are Your Sinuses Healthy? Is Mold the Culprit?
- Invasive Fungal Sinusitis (Fungal Sinus Infection)
- What is Invasive Fungal Sinusitis?
- Believe it or Not, MoldCan Cause Sinusitis
- Fungal Sinusitis
- Yeast Infections
- Fungus Balls
- Allergic Fungal Sinusitis
- Invasive Fungal Sinusitis
Sinus Health and Allergies: Mold & Mildew
Mold and Mildew
Unlike those troubled from pollen allergies who experience flare-ups of sinus problems in the spring months, if you find yourself suffering from itchy eyes, congestion, sinus pain and pressure during the fall months, then it is likely that you have an allergy to mold and mildew.
A large percentage of chronic sinus infections are related to mold exposure, according to the Mayo Clinic, the largest not-for-profit medical practice and research center in the world.
In this installment of the Spotlight series, Dr. Bennett answers your questions about mold and mildew and how reducing your exposure with tips to help ease your sinus pain.
In general, if you suffer from mold allergies, it is best to avoid outside mold spore, piles of leaves, dense vegetation and plant debris when out of doors. As for indoor tips, invest in a dehumidifier and a HEPA (HIgh-Efficiency Air Particulate) filter machines that should be run to regulate the moisture in the air and purify the air, respectively. Also, be sure to keep only a few indoor plants and keep your windows closed if the mold spore counts are high.
What is mold and where is it found?
Mold is a type of fungus. There are three principle types of molds of which to be aware:
Mops can contain mold and other fungi
This is the least dangerous type of mold, and the kind that will be referred to throughout the article. It is also the most troublesome type of mold if you have been diagnosed with a mold allergy and includes the most common type of mold, called altemaria, which affects the nose, mouth and upper respiratory tract, causing allergic reactions.
You are more susceptible to this type of mold if you are currently sick or have a weakened immune system.
Toxigenic (“Toxic”) Molds:
The most dangerous type of mold; produces mycotoxins, linked to severe health effects such as immunosuppression and cancer.
Mold fungi reproduce and grow rapidly through the release of spores (or cells) into the air. These spores are typically too microscopic to see, even though there may be hundreds or thousands in one’s home. Mold spores breed in damp areas but can survive in even the driest spots because they have the ability to lay dormant until the right conditions exist to begin reproducing again.
Mold needs only moisture and oxygen, so it can be found in any area or in any substance so long as those two ingredients are present. Mold is often found in carpet, wood, leather, fabrics and even food.
Could my sinus infections be caused by a mold allergy?
Did you know that 16% of men and women in the United States have a specific genetic trait in their DNA that makes them more prone to mold allergies than those without it? Consider the fact that you could very well be one of these individuals who carry this trait.
To find out, your doctor can give you a special allergy test. There are two different types of tests: skin and blood tests.
The Skin Test, is based on the body’s immediate reaction to mold. This is based on either a prick of the skin or a patch placed on the skin and your immune system’s local skin response to the mold allergens. If you have a mold allergy, the mold binds with skin antibodies and skin cells. This will cause mast cells to release histamines into the body causing redness and swelling in that area. That’s also why antihistamines prevent the symptoms of an allergic reaction.
The Blood Test involves the testing and analysis of a blood sample. Blood is analyzed at a lab for the presence of a limited selection of antibodies the body may have produced. The amount of antibodies will tell how allergic you are to a certain substance. This and the skin test are usually covered by your health insurance. Doctors who perform the blood test report that sufferers of chronic sinusitis test positive for a mold allergy up to 90% of the time; the skin test, however, shows a positive result for only 30% of the same population.
Chronic or acute sinusitis may be the result of a mold allergen if you have the following symptoms:
- Inflammation of the nasal passages
- Body aches
- Coughing and wheezing
- Post-nasal drip
- Itchy rashes
Nasal polyps can also, but not always, be caused by mold. A polyp is a growth in the sinus tissues that are typically the size of a grape. Steroids and allergen avoidance with rinsing can be helpful but surgery is frequently required for removal. Like regular sinus infections, they can be caused by inflammation of the tissues due to mold exposure. Eliminating mold from surfaces and the air are the best way to reduce your risk of developing nasal polyps caused by mold and mildew.
In addition to sinusitis and nasal polyps, mold can also cause muscle and joint pain, headaches, anxiety, shortness of breath and gastro-intestinal problems.
Is there mold in my house?
If you or your doctor suspect that mold may be contributing to your chronic sinusitis, it is possible that the source of the mold is inside your home. Target the following areas when inspecting or cleaning your house for mold:
- Christmas trees
- Leaky sinks
- Behind appliances connected to plumbing (the refrigerator, washer, dishwater)
- Leaky roofs
- Windows that collect condensation
- Basements and other areas with high humidity
Mildew and Mold are often present in drying laundry
A common misconception related to mold in the house concerns the belief that those who live in a newly built house are not at risk for mold allergens. This is untrue. During the construction of a house, the foundation is often exposed to rain and humidity, hotbeds for mold and mildew. If you suspect your house contains mold and your sinuses are being affected, buy a gravity plate testing kit, the most common option for homeowners. A gravity plate test helps detect hidden mold present in cabinetry, crawl spaces, closets, furniture and ductwork.
A typical test consists of a simple Petri dish that contains a nutrient in the bottom. To use it, remove the top of the Petri dish, and wait. After four to eight hours, if there is mold in your house, you will be able to see tiny “spores” or “colonies” in the plate that have begun to grow on account of the nutrient. The test kit comes with an identifier booklet, allowing you to identify which type of spore corresponds with each type of mold. Remember that if you count 0-4 distinct types of mold, and feel no sinus infection symptoms, this is okay. However, if you do experience symptoms associated with a mold allergy, you should make sure that your indoor mold levels are at a 0-2 level.
You can pick up a mold detection kit either online, or at your local hardware store. Mold detection kits are also available for air sampling and moisture. For those who prefer to leave the mold to the experts, a quick Google search for mold control companies will turn up the professionals located in your area.
How can I prevent the onset of sinus infections caused by mold?
First, irrigate. Irrigating your sinuses flushes them of not only mucus and congestion, but also of the mold itself. When the mold is flushed out, your sinuses and nasal cavities are able to heal now that the inflammatory agent is no longer present.
Perhaps the most effective treatment is antigen removal, done by killing the antigen in the mold spore. You may need to hire professionals to inspect your house or work space and clear it from any mold, otherwise the trigger that causes your immune system to react to the mold by causing inflammation of the sinuses and other symptoms, will continue.
Treat your Car
Your car is another area that should be carefully inspected for the presence of mold. Indications of mold include a musty smell upon entering and frequent sneezing while inside.
Inspect Your Basement
Mold can be present in any area of your house, but most often, it is located in the basement, bathroom or laundry area. Damp and wet basements are even more susceptible. A professional water damage team can handle fixing the problem, or you can take the do-it-yourself approach by removing any wet items, drying the area with a dehumidifier, and then using a non-toxic mold removal product.
Remove Carpeting and Install Hardwood Flooring
Carpets are another key area to target when removing mold in one’s house. Carpet not only contain mold, but can grow mold as well as dust mites. Merely steam cleaning and vacuuming the carpets in not enough to remove it, because mold trapped in the fibers in the carpet is too deep to be seen. Opt for wood or pergo flooring instead.
Keep in mind that if you discover that the mold types inside your house are similar to that outdoors, this does not mean that your house is not still the sole contributor to your sinus infections. Mold spores found outdoors are less concentrated and are less commonly linked to sinus infections, thus, even if the mold levels indoors and outdoors are the same, it is best to remove the mold as soon as possible.
Another common misconception is that sinus infections are not caused mold, but rather bacteria. If you have tested positive to fungal allergies, this means that mold in your nose can cause white blood cells to react to kill the fungus in the sinus lining. A pit then forms in the sinus lining, trapping mucus and blocking it from draining properly. This can also cause a sinus infection that must be treated with antibiotics. If you are still breathing in mold and mildew, the infection is likely to return. Thus, removal of the mold at the source can be the key to stopping the infection, not treating the bacteria that result.
The first step in treating a mold-based sinus infection is getting tested to determine whether you have a mold allergy, and whether it is present if your home. Once you have established that mold may be a of your chronic sinusitis, follow the tips listed above as they apply to you. Don’t forget to consult with your doctor if you start to develop more serious physical conditions as a result of exposure to mold.
Mold in Your Nose and Chronic Sinusitis
originally posted September 5, 2017
While it is obvious that inhalation of mold can lead to sinusitis, the location and sensitivity of our smelling system provide direct access to our bloodstream and brain causing systemic disease that oftentimes not considered or even recognized by traditional medical practice. Yes, mold spores can enter through our noses to our sinuses. There they can find moisture and food to reproduce or colonize, causing a fungal or bacterial infection (Sinusitis). In some cases, mycotoxins, secondary metabolites of some molds, can also reach the brain. If the fungus is not removed and the sinuses are not cleaned regularly, susceptible people can then develop chronic sinusitis (>12 weeks or multiple times per year), a troubling disease state that affects up to 50 million people in the US alone.
As a direct result, sinusitis can often present neurological symptoms such as headache, dizziness, brain fog, memory loss, depression, anxiety, and others. Physical symptoms that may not appear obvious to the condition including pain and tingling in extremities. Consequently, other systemic chronic diseases can be misdiagnosed as these symptoms often overlap. This often leads to unnecessary diagnostics, medical treatment, side effects, and extended human and financial costs.
Here’s what is really happening.
The Nasal Mechanism
The nose is a complex, multifunctional organ. The nasal cavity and nasal hairs provide a barrier to shield our bodies from microscopic particles in the air we breathe. The nasal mucosa acts as a sticky blanket that prevents foreign particles from reaching our respiratory system. It is the mucosa where mold stores can settle and colonize in the food and moisture rich environment. The sinuses also filter and humidify inhaled air, prior to its reaching the lower parts of the airway. Thus, the nasal mucosa is one of our body’s first lines of defense, filtering more than 500 liters of air per hour.
Innervation of the Nasal-Septum-Olfactory Nerves
Due to rich vascularization, the olfactory and respiratory systems may serve as efficient delivery mechanisms of medications as well as foreign particles. The prime location of our nasal openings on our bodies also provides direct access to cerebrospinal fluid, which, in turn provides direct access to the brain. In addition, foreign particles and other molecules inhaled through the nose can reach our blood systems directly, without having to be digested or metabolized (broken down) by the liver, prior to being pumped to the rest of our body by the heart.
In fact, there are numerous pharmaceuticals that utilize intranasal delivery to take advantage of the fast absorption and bioavailability of this delivery method. In addition to the obvious (nasal decongestants), there are other nasal delivery drugs to treat migraines, pain, and epileptic attacks. More recently, hormone medications and other proteins like human growth hormone, insulin, and calcitonin have been designed to deliver their effects via nasal delivery.
Mold Spores in Our Noses: Infections
Airborne mold spores have direct access to the sinuses, where they can find a home with moisture and food (mucous) to reproduce and colonize. When this happens, a sinus infection can develop. The body’s immune system then responds, creating localized inflammation, which manifests as mucous production and pressure. This sinus inflammation exacerbates the Sinusitis condition. The presence of fungi in the sinuses also creates an environment conducive to bacterial infections. The back and forth bacterial and fungal infections create a chronic sinusitis cycle.
Systemic Mycotoxin Poisoning
There are numerous molds that produce mycotoxins. These sticky chemical substances are secondary metabolites that are extremely toxic to humans. Common mycotoxin-producing molds that are found in homes include aspergillus, penicillium, cladosporum, fumarium, etc. When these mycotoxins enter the sinuses, they can find themselves just a few microns away from cerebral spinal fluid and thus can cause serious neurological symptoms. This is why many mold sufferers exhibit numerous debilitating neurological symptoms, such as brain fog, memory problems, headaches, pain, light sensitivity, and tingling of the extremities. These symptoms are alarming and difficult to diagnose.
Proximity To Brain
Unfortunately, patients with these symptoms are often referred to neurologists that are likely to perform expensive diagnostics (MRI, CT scans, ect.) as part of a trial and error method of prescribing medications to see what works. This is because the symptoms can partly mimic or be similar to classic neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders, including pain syndromes, movement disorders, delirium, dementia, and disorders of balance and coordination. This sometimes takes a patient’s path to wellness off-line for months or even years.
In my article, Systemic Mycotoxicosis: A Layman’s (Plain English) Discussion and Review of Dr. Thrasher’s Final Publication with Dr. Dennis MD, (https://sinusitiswellness.com/must-read-article-on-mycotoxin-poisoning/), I describe the methods these two physicians utilized to identify mycotoxin poisoning in the sinuses of patients with neurological symptoms. Ultimately, irrigation with a potent antifungal, Amphotericin B, in a topical fashion was the key to remediating the mycotoxins. Continued usage of Amphotericin B nasal drops (taken upside down) and nebulization then had to continue post-surgery for the patients to finally get well.
Why is this information Important?
Many patients and physicians “overlook the obvious” when treating sinusitis and mold sickness:
1) Mold and Mycotoxins primarily enter our bodies via inhalation
2) Mold spores that take up residence in our sinuses make us sick
3) Our sinuses provide a direct path for mold and mycotoxins to reach our bloodstreams and brains.
Mold Hygiene and Prevention
Patients can empower themselves to prevent mold accumulation in the sinuses and infection using readily available products. While all patients may not require this level of vigilance, if you are reading this article, it is likely that you may be a mold sufferer and could benefit from this type of Mold Hygiene. The regular cleaning of mold from our sinuses, clothes, and homes is likely the most impactful way we can help ourselves to treat and prevent mold infection.
Micro Balance Health Products has a suite of products to help battle mold at every source. Sinus irrigation with saline and CitriDrops flushes the mold spores out of the sinus cavity. Vigilant patients often take CitriDrops Nasal Spray with them to provide relief when encountering mold throughout their day. In addition, the following infographic outlines steps that can be taken and products that can be used to diligently keep our homes, clothes, and bodies clear of dangerous levels of mold.
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Fungal Sinus Infection: Overview, Symptoms, Causes, and Testing
Recurring Fungal Sinus Infection: Overview, Symptoms, Causes, and Testing
Yeast, mold, and other fungi are common in indoor and outdoor environments. These pathogens are everywhere
from household surfaces, in the air we breathe, and some cases even currently in our nose and sinuses. For
people with allergies to mold, a humid and windy day can be a challenge. For example, hospital Emergency rooms have recorded an increase in upper respiratory attacks just before a rainstorm.
Inclement weather can stimulate mold in the ground to release spores into the wind. In 1999, the Mayo clinic published a study showed that 82% of patients with chronic sinusitis had fungal elements in their sinus mucus. The study proposed that most cases of chronic sinusitis were caused by eosinophils, a type of disease-fighting white blood cell, damaging the sinus tissue while attempting to eliminate fungi.
Symptoms of Fungal Sinus Infection
- The infection lasts for at least ten days without any evidence of clinical improvement.
- Infection is severe, including fever exceeding 102°F.
- Post nasal drip and tenderness in the face last for at least three to four consecutive days at the beginning of an illness.
- Symptoms or signs of an upper respiratory infection worsen, with new fever or headache developing or nasal discharge increasing. This typically occurs after a viral upper respiratory infection that lasted five or six days and initially seemed to improve.
Causes of Sinus Infections
Symptoms of recurring fungal sinus infection are similar to those of acute or reoccurring bacterial or viral sinus infections. Viruses that meet your nasal cavity can lead to a viral sinus infection. Most often, viral upper respiratory infections (the common cold) are the cause.
Bacteria in the lining of your nasal cavity can also cause sinus infections. The bacteria Streptococcus pyogenes, well known as the cause of strep throat, is the most common cause of sinus infections. Another common reason is the bacteria Haemophilus influenzae, which, despite its name, can cause illnesses other than influenza.
Current Methods of Testing for Reoccurring Sinus Infection
Most often, diagnoses of bacterial sinus infections are based on medical history and examination by a doctor. Your doctor will check for tenderness in your nose and face, and look inside your nose. Methods for diagnosing chronic sinusitis include:
- Looking into your sinuses. A thin, flexible tube with a fiber-optic light inserted through your nose allows your doctor to see the inside of your sinuses and check for physical abnormalities.
- Imaging tests. Images taken using CT or MRI can show details of your sinuses and nasal area. These can pinpoint a deep inflammation or physical obstruction that’s difficult to detect using an endoscope.
- Allergy test. If your doctor suspects that allergies might be triggering your chronic bacterial sinusitis, they may recommend an allergy skin test.
- Sinus secretion (cultures). Your doctor may swab inside your nose to collect samples that might help determine the cause, such as bacteria or fungi.
Several factors play a role in sinus infections, thus comprehensively identifying the sinus infection is imperative. Current standard methods of recurring nasal infection testing leave a vast majority of possible infections completely undiagnosed. In some cases, it is difficult to determine precisely which bacterium, fungus, or virus is causing your reoccurring sinus infection. And, when it comes to a recurring fungal sinus infection, what happens in the biome of your nose may be complicated. In most cases, Xplore-PATHO deep swab collection kit can be of use. This collection kit can be used to determine if any known sequenced pathogen is within the sample.
As if typical cold symptoms aren’t bothersome enough, some people feel facial pressure, general pain and additional mucus due to sinusitis. Unfortunately, while many patients do have a sinus infection, the cause is often misjudged and therefore the treatment prescribed is not effective. Research has found that allergy is to blame in a large percentage of chronic sinusitis cases. Sinusitis seems to be another condition that could be effectively treated with allergy treatment but is often missed in diagnosis.
What is sinusitis?
Sinusitis – often referred to as a sinus infection – is an inflammation of the tissue lining the sinuses. Sinusitis is most often suspected to be a result of the common cold, leading to symptoms such as:
- Facial pressure
- Postnasal drip
- Green or gray nasal discharge
- Dental pain
There are a few “do it yourself” remedies that can help these symptoms, such as taking an over the counter pain medication or decongestant and using a saline solution or nasal steroids. If your symptoms persist for more than 7-10 days, that’s typically a good sign to head to your doctor’s office to decide on a treatment plan, oftentimes prescribing an antibiotic.
Unfortunately, those antibiotics don’t do the trick for a subset of patients, leaving them feeling as if there’s no cure for their pain. For those with chronic sinus infections, and sinus infections that don’t improve with the use of antibiotics, it may be time to seek out an allergist.
Treatment of chronic sinusitis due to allergy
Thirty seven million people in the U.S. experience chronic sinusitis – meaning the sinuses stay inflamed for at least 12 weeks, even after attempting treatment. Sinusitis is most often attributed to bacteria and therefore treated with antibiotics, but researchers at the Mayo Clinic discovered that most cases are actually due to a fungal allergy. In a study of 210 patients experiencing sinusitis, fungus was found in 96% of mucus. This led researchers to believe about 80% of chronic sinusitis cases are truly due to allergy, not bacteria, and the antibiotic treatment commonly used is indeed ineffective.
The research states, “Antibiotics and over-the-counter decongestants are widely used to treat chronic sinusitis. In most cases, antibiotics are not effective for chronic sinusitis because they target bacteria, not fungi. The over-the-counter drugs may offer some relief of symptoms, but they have no effect on the inflammation.” Instead, treatment of the allergy itself is most beneficial.
Knowing that most chronic sinusitis cases are caused by allergy has led allergists and doctors alike to pay close attention to the two conditions and their relation to each other. Allergy testing is to be completed in order to uncover the offending allergen, specifically the offending mold or fungus. Through Allergychoices, individually tailored allergy drops are prescribed to help build tolerance to the substance causing chronic symptoms. This safe and effective treatment has proven to help those with mild to severe allergic conditions, chronic sinusitis included.
One of the most common fungi, and most popular allergens, is mold. Dr. George Kroker, partner at Allergy Associates of La Crosse and an author of the La Crosse Method™ Protocol, explains that mold is found everywhere, indoors, outdoors, and year round. Because of this, patients have a long season of exposure, which can definitely cause chronic symptoms in the sinuses. You can find more about mold, along with tips for combating it and allergy drop treatment to build tolerance in our blog Mold Allergies: When pollen is gone and symptoms drag on with Dr. Kroker.
By Taylor Pasell, Allergychoices
Household Mold: Control Moisture to Control Allergies
Mold likes humidity. So the key to preventing this fungus in your home is to control moisture levels, especially in areas that are moist or damp, such as on bathroom tiles, near sinks, in damp basements or crawl spaces, and areas around windows.
Do this to stop mold from growing in your home:
- Open the window or use an exhaust fan in the bathroom when showering.
- Make sure clothes dryers and stoves are properly vented to the outside. This will help reduce moisture and humidity levels in your home.
- Clean your bathroom frequently. Pay special attention to tiles and shower curtains, where soap scum can harbor mold.
- Fix all plumbing problems and leaks right away and wipe up any excess moisture. In most cases, drying wet or damp areas within 48 hours can keep mold from growing.
- Open a window or use exhaust fans when cooking or running the dishwasher to reduce humidity.
- Clean sinks and tubs often — at least once a month.
- Clean up condensation on windows, walls, or pipes immediately.
- If necessary, use a dehumidifier to reduce humidity in your home. Aim for an indoor humidity level between 30% to 60%. Be sure to empty and clean the dehumidifier’s drain pan regularly.
- Consider removing carpeting if humidity is a problem in your home. Mold can easily grow on carpet and it’s hard to remove.
- If your basement is damp, try increasing the temperature to reduce humidity. Be sure that ground water drainage is going away from your home to prevent a leaky basement.
- Keep your rain gutters clean so they don’t get clogged.
Are Your Sinuses Healthy? Is Mold the Culprit?
“Normal sinuses are lined with a thin layer of mucus that traps dust, germs and other particles in the air. Tiny hair-like projections in the sinuses sweep the mucus (and whatever is trapped in it) towards openings that lead to the back of the throat. A sinus infection stops the normal flow of mucus from the sinuses to the back of the throat. The tiny hair-like “sweepers” become blocked when infections or allergies cause tiny nasal tissues to swell. The swelling traps mucus in the sinuses.” (American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology)
The weaker your immune system, the more likely you are to develop a sinus infection, therefore it is also important to maintain adequate immune support.
Do you need an intranasal rinse?
Nasal rinses help clear the blocked/ thickened mucus from the sinuses. There are a few different kinds. Saline nasal rinses are mentioned in a trial below, and are one of the most common forms of nasal rinses. Some people use a Neti pot, but they are also available in easy to use spray bottles. There are also antifungal nasal rinses available at local pharmacies (like Advanced Rx) to combat toxins that may be residing in the sinus passages. Below I will mention mold exposure and some treatment option to combat mold in the sinuses.
Home Neti Pot Solution Recipe:
1/2 to 1 teaspoon of finely ground kosher or sea salt (avoid iodized and flavor infused salts and any added aluminum or silicone)
16 oz either distilled or boiled tap water
1/2 teaspoon baking soda (optional)
Warm the solution to about body temperature.
What are the benefits of nasal rinses?
In a systematic review of 10 original trials, saline nasal irrigation resulted in a 27.66% improvement in nasal symptoms, a 62.1% reduction in medicine consumption, a 31.19% acceleration of mucociliary clearance time, and a 27.88% improvement in quality of life.
Saline nasal irrigation is a safe and effective way to release sinus pressure and improve symptoms. It can also help decrease the need for antibiotic medications, which is important as there is an increase in antibiotic resistant in bacteria.
How often can/ should you rinse your sinuses?
If you are someone who frequently experiences sinus congestion, using a sinus rinse twice daily may prove very beneficial. Always consult with your health care provider to see what the best plan is for you.
How does mold exposure affect my sinuses?
A 2015 study found that approximately 90% of chronically ill patients have a history and exposure to a water damaged building, mold, or both.
The study also linked aflatoxins, ochratoxin A, and/or macrocyclic trichothecenes (types of mycotoxins secreted by mold) to chronic fatigue syndrome. The nose and sinuses are the major internal reservoirs that hold mold and toxins.
Check in with yourself and determine whether you may have any of the following mold exposure symptoms taken from a leading functional physician and mold expert, Dr. Jill Carnahan:
Fatigue and weakness
Headache, light sensitivity
Poor memory, difficult word finding
Morning stiffness, joint pain
Unusual skin sensations, tingling and numbness
Shortness of breath, sinus congestion or chronic cough
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
Vertigo, feeling lightheaded
How to I treat my mold exposure?
Remove yourself from the contaminated environment, or test your home for mold! You can click here to have someone come check for mold in your home!
Avoid exposure to items from the moldy environment.
Use clay, charcoal, cholestyramine or other binders to bind internal mycotoxins
Potential binders include cholestyramine (best for orchratoxin), Welchol, charcoal, bentonite clays (gliotoxin—recommend Yerba liquid Prima Bentonite clay), calcium d-glucarate, chorella (gentle), Zeolites, chitosan, citrus pectin, apple pectin, beta-sitosterol, glucomannan, diatomaceous earth.
While you are using binders, you must maintain normal bowel function and avoid constipation. You can add magnesium citrate, buffered C powder, or even gentle laxatives.
Treat colonizing molds/fungal or bacterial infections in the body
Common locations of colonization include sinuses, gut, bladder, vagina, lungs
Test and treat for candida overgrowth – living in an environment with mold leads to immune dysregulation that allows candida to overgrow in the body in some immunocompromised patients
Nebulizer or Nasal spray
Enhance detoxification support
Some common supplements used to aid detox are liposomal glutathione, milk thistle, n-acetylcysteine, alpha lipoid acid, glycine, glutamine, and taurine. Methylation support is also key and involves optimal levels of methylcobalamin (B12), methyl-folate, B6, riboflavin, and minerals
Sweating via FIR sauna therapy
Avoid common mycotoxin containing foods:
Corn, wheat, barley, rye, peanuts, sorghum, cottonseed, some cheeses, and alcoholic beverages such as wine and beer. Others include oats, rice, tree nuts pistachios, brazil nuts, chiles, oil seeds, spices, black pepper, dried fruits, figs, coffee, cocoa, beans, bread.
HLA DR – Your Genes
Human Leukocyte Antigens (HLAs), are found on the surface of nearly every cell in the human body. They help the immune system tell the difference between body tissue and foreign substances.
The immune response genes are found on chromosome six. Patients could have two alleles, copies of genes (for each gene, one allele is inherited from a person’s father, and the other is inherited from a person’s mother), out of approximately 10 possible, as part of their genotype. Based on Dr. Shoemaker’s data, in normal populations compared to international registries of gene frequencies of HLA DR, we know the frequency of mold illness-susceptible patients approximates 24% of the normally distributed population. Almost a quarter of the normal population is genetically susceptible to chronic mold illness. Three quarters isn’t.
Advanced Rx is a great local pharmacy which creates anti-fungal sinus treatments. Speak with one of our providers about how you can heal your sinuses and determine if you have been exposed to mold!
PIM wants to hear from you! Do you have an experience with sinusitis? Mold exposure? Do you find this article helpful? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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Written by Dani Mortimer, Clinic Manager
“Sinus Infection | Causes, Symptoms & Treatment.” ACAAI Public Website, acaai.org/allergies/types/sinus-infection.
“Nasal Saline for Allergic Rhinitis.” Nasal Saline for Allergic Rhinitis, www.cochrane.org/CD012597/ENT_nasal-saline-allergic-rhinitis.
Hermelingmeier, Kristina E, et al. “Nasal Irrigation as an Adjunctive Treatment in Allergic Rhinitis: a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” American Journal of Rhinology & Allergy, OceanSide Publications, Inc., 2012, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3904042/.
Brewer, Joseph H. “Intranasal Antifungal Therapy in Patients with Chronic Illness Associated with Mold and Mycotoxins: An Observational Analysis .” Global Journal of Medical Research: K Interdisciplinary , Global Journals Inc. (USA), 2015, pdfs.semanticscholar.org/8bb0/fee2de8152ee7a63dd973ff7eca070da9028.pdf?_ga=2.44173479.220994921.1556814951-198575620.1556814951.
“Home.” Sutter Health, www.sutterhealth.org/health/breathing-allergies/sinus-rinse-relief.
Invasive Fungal Sinusitis (Fungal Sinus Infection)
What is Invasive Fungal Sinusitis?
There are two primary types of invasive fungal sinus infections, acute and chronic.
The acute version of fungal sinusitis is more serious and primarily occurs in people whose immune systems have been compromised. Fungi usually feed on dead organic matter, but weakened immune defenses can allow fungi to begin eating tissue that is still alive.
As the fungus reproduces, it spreads rapidly into the blood vessels, eye area, and central nervous system with devastating results. Acute invasive fungal sinusitis is a rare condition with a high mortality rate.
Fungal infection of the sinuses can occur when fungal organisms are inhaled and deposited in the nasal passageways and paranasal sinuses, causing inflammation. The dark, moist environment of the sinuses is ideal for fungi, which can reproduce without light or food.
Most fungal infections of the sinuses are noninvasive, meaning they won’t spread to surrounding tissue.
Symptoms are similar to a sinus infection — congestion, facial pain and swelling, and discharge — but you may be severely ill with these symptoms.
At UPMC, the preferred surgical treatment for invasive fungal sinusitis is the Endoscopic Endonasal Approach (EEA). This innovative, minimally invasive technique uses the nose and nasal cavities as natural corridors to access hard-to-reach or previously inoperable tumors. Benefits of EEA include:
- No incisions to heal
- No disfigurement
- Faster recovery time
Believe it or Not, MoldCan Cause Sinusitis
Special note to the folks of the Greater New Orleans Region: as you may know, the mold count in New Orleans has been over the top since Hurricane Katrina. A low to moderate concentration of mold is a count of 1-12,999 spores. The Greater New Orleans Region has over 20,000 spores with a peak recording in 2005 (the year of the hurricane) of 65,000 spores! New Orleans is like a second home to me and I’ve seen what mold exposure has done to my friends. If you live in this region and are experiencing chronic sinus problems, please have a culture done of your nose.
Question: What is mold and why does it make me sick?
Answer: There are many types of molds, which are fungi that thrive where it is damp and warm. They reproduce by spreading spores, asexual reproductive bodies. Spores are invisible to our eyes. They float through outdoor and indoor air. Molds that cause allergies include alternaria, aspergillus, cladosporium and penicillium.
If you are allergic to molds, your immune system overreacts when you inhale spores. Mold allergy symptoms can include sinusitis, sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, cough, postnasal drip, itchy and watery eyes. If you want to know if you are allergic to molds, see an allergist who can test you for your reaction to molds.
Reducing exposure to spores is the best way to avoid symptoms. Here are some ways to keep mold spores away:
- When doing yard work especially raking leaves wear a dust mask over your nose and mouth. Mold is abundant where leaves or other vegetation are decomposing.
- When the mold count is high, do not drive with your car windows open. Use the air-conditioning with the windows closed.
- When the nights are wet, sleep with your windows closed. This is when the concentration of spores is the highest.
- Reduce your outdoor time when the weather is wet. The last thing you should do if you have an allergic reaction to molds is go out for a run or bike ride on a damp day.
- Put a dehumidifier anywhere in your home that is musty.
- Air-conditioning in your home is a must if you have allergies. Clean the AC filters often.
- Ventilate bathrooms, especially after bathing or showering.
- Clean bathroom and basement wall surfaces regularly with a bleach solution.
- Remove leaves and vegetation from around the foundation of your home. Clean gutters often.
You can’t avoid mold spores completely. There are medications to help you deal with your allergies.
Antihistamines can reduce itching, sneezing and runny nose. Non-drowsy over-the-counter antihistamines for itching, sneezing and runny nose include Alavert or Claritin. There are prescription drugs available, too, such as Allegra.
Over-the-counter decongestants include Actifed, Drixoral and Sudafed.
Nasal sprays for temporary relief include Afrin and Neo-Synephrine. Don’t use decongestant nasal sprays for more than a few days because they can create “rebound” congestion.
For many allergy sufferers including me nasal corticosteroid sprays are highly effective treatments. These medications include Beconase, Flonase, Nasonex and Veramyst.
There are other allergy medications that work a bit differently. They include NasalCrom and Singulair.
Immunotherapy, also known as allergy shots or vaccinations, can alleviate allergy symptoms. However, shots don’t work on all allergies or all people. The shots are only moderately effective against mold allergy.
Rinsing your nose with salt water can help with nasal symptoms brought on by a mold allergy.
There are convenient saline nasal sprays available at drug stores.
If you have a question, please write to [email protected]
Mold, yeast and other fungi are common in the environment – on surfaces, in the air we breathe, and even in our nose and sinuses. For people with allergies to mold, a wet or windy day can be miserable. Emergency rooms have recorded an increase in asthma attacks just before a thunderstorm – the approaching weather stimulates mold in the ground to release spores into the wind. In 1999, a widely publicized Mayo clinic study demonstrated that 96% of patients with chronic sinusitis have fungal elements in the sinus mucous, and proposed that most cases of chronic sinusitis were caused by the release of major basic protein from the eosinophilic white blood cells, damaging the sinus tissue while trying to eradicate the fungus. Subsequent studies failed to replicate the initial Mayo clinic findings, and later proved that almost all sinuses – healthy or not – have traces of fungi.
Most commonly caused by the fungus Candida albicans, yeast infections can be red, itchy and painful. In healthy individuals, yeast infections occur during treatment with antibiotics and steroids. The truth is, our bodies are never sterile. For example, our digestive tract normally holds about 2 to 5 pounds of normal bacteria, which we need to break down the food we eat. Even in the healthy nose, there is a balanced ecosystem of harmless bacteria and fungi, called a microbiome. Unfortunately, antibiotics kill both commensal bacteria (healthy ones) and pathogenic bacteria (those that cause disease). However, fungi are not sensitive to the antibiotics that kill bacteria, and can quickly multiply in the absence of competition. When antibiotics are taken by mouth, a yeast infection can occur in any dark, moist part of the body – including the sinuses, the mouth (thrush), the vagina, and the ear canal.
Patients with chronic sinusitis and nasal polyps often accumulate years of stale mucous in the larger sinus cavities. Saprophytic fungi (those that live on dead or decaying matter) will grow in the sinus and live on the mucous and dead cells that become trapped in the cavity. They do not attack the living tissue, but may create an inflammatory response that perpetuates the swelling and the growth of nasal polyps. Antibiotics and medications for ordinary yeast infections have no effect on fungus balls, which cause chronic nasal congestion and postnasal drainage. The fungus balls can often be seen on CT scans, and confirmed with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The only treatment is surgical cleaning of the sinus with removal of the polyps and debris. Usually, this is performed during endoscopic sinus surgery, although we have had occasional success in the office with transantral balloon dilation.
Allergic Fungal Sinusitis
Patients with distinct allergies to fungus may accumulate mold in the sinuses that perpetuates the allergy. Imagine scrubbing all the mildew out of your bathroom, while walking around with it growing in your sinus! The chronic exposure creates nasal polyps, asthma, and a very thick mucous, with the consistency of denture adhesive or chewing gum stuck in a shag carpet. As with a fungus ball, thorough cleaning usually requires large openings created during endoscopic sinus surgery. In addition, allergy testing and immunotherapy are recommended to calm the allergic response.
Invasive Fungal Sinusitis
It is rare for fungi to attack living tissue, but this can occur in patients who are debilitated or immune compromised, such as those with advanced AIDS, poorly controlled diabetes, or advanced cancer requiring chemotherapy. The fungi cause thrombosis (blood clots) that lead to tissue death, and then they live on the dead tissue. Although rare, this is a serious condition that can destroy the eye and the brain. Treatment requires aggressive surgery to remove all damaged tissue and intravenous antifungal medications.