RubmdReviewDealing with Mold Toxicity: The Silent Killer in Your Home

Dealing with Mold Toxicity: The Silent Killer in Your Home

Mold toxicity, also known as chronic inflammatory response syndrome (CIRS), refers to a variety of symptoms that can occur when a person is exposed to mycotoxins from mold over a long period of time. Mycotoxins are toxic chemicals produced by certain types of mold that can build up in the body and cause health issues when exposure is frequent or exposure levels are high.

What Causes Mold Toxicity?

Mold toxicity is caused by prolonged exposure to the mycotoxins released by toxin-producing molds. The most common molds that produce mycotoxins and cause toxicity issues include:

  • Stachybotrys chartarum (also known as black mold)
  • Aspergillus
  • Penicillium
  • Alternaria
  • Cladosporium

These molds release spores and mycotoxins into the air which can then be inhaled or ingested. The toxins accumulate in the body over time, eventually leading to chronic symptoms and illness if exposure continues.

Some of the most common sources of toxic mold exposure include:

Water-Damaged Buildings

Buildings with water damage, high humidity, condensation or mold growth can contain very high levels of toxic mold. Homes, offices, schools and other buildings with mold issues often cause toxicity in the occupants if the problems are not properly remediated. Symptoms usually improve when people are away from the contaminated environment.

Food Contamination

Grains, nuts, spices and other foods stored in damp conditions can develop mold without it being visible. Eating these foods exposes you to mycotoxins that make their way into the circulatory system and organs. This may occur unknowingly over long periods of time while consuming contaminated products.


Areas impacted by flooding often have high levels of mold growth. Spores are spread through the air and mycotoxins contaminate surfaces. Cleaning thoroughly after floods and using protective equipment during cleanup is important to avoid toxicity.

Signs and Symptoms

Mold toxicity can result in a wide range of nonspecific symptoms that are often attributed to other causes since few doctors test specifically for mycotoxins.

Some of the most common health issues caused by mold toxicity include:

General Health Symptoms

  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Muscle aches
  • Joint pain

Respiratory Symptoms

  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sinus congestion
  • Asthma or asthma-like symptoms

Neurological Symptoms

  • Difficulty concentrating and focusing
  • Memory issues
  • Mood issues (irritability, anxiety, depression)
  • Tremors
  • Poor balance
  • Vertigo

Skin Issues

  • Rashes
  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Red eyes

Because the symptoms are vague and common to other conditions, diagnosing mold toxicity can be challenging. People exposed to mold often develop symptoms over time that tend to linger even when not in the contaminated environment. Testing for mycotoxins in the urine can help confirm a diagnosis.

Dangers and Complications

Though some people have no reaction when exposed to mold, those susceptible can develop severe illnesses and dangerous complications:

Weakened Immune System

The toxins from mold over time can damage and suppress the immune system by reducing white blood cell counts and interfering with normal immune functioning. With lower white blood cells, the body cannot effectively fight off infections and illnesses as it normally would. The mycotoxins specifically target lymphocytes, neutrophils and important immune signaling proteins, dismantling immune defenses. This leads to prolonged illnesses, chronic infections, slower recovery and vulnerability to other health issues without proper treatment. Basically, mold toxicity overtime gradually breaks down immune protections through multiple mechanisms, paving the way for secondary infections and disease. Supporting immune health is a key part of recovering from this complicated illness.

Lung Bleeding

Certain toxic molds like Stachybotrys can induce pulmonary hemorrhaging, a dangerous condition where the fragile blood vessels in the lungs begin to bleed. This fills the lung’s air sacs with fluid, preventing oxygen absorption. Symptoms include a sudden onset of cough with bloody sputum, shortness of breath and very low oxygen levels. It is a medical emergency requiring urgent treatment to prevent respiratory failure and death. Prompt action is critical with this rare but extremely serious complication of mold toxicity.

Memory Loss

The mycotoxins from mold exposure can impact neurological pathways and brain function over time, resulting in measurable memory deficits. Specifically, mold toxicity patients often exhibit poor short term memory and working memory, concentration difficulties and problems with recall and word finding. The toxins seem to disrupt neurons in the hippocampus and frontal lobe regions that support these cognitive processes. If exposure continues, the damage may become permanent through destruction of these delicate neural networks.


Some types of mold toxins are classified as carcinogens. Long term exposure has been linked to a higher risk of certain cancers like lung, colorectal, kidney and bladder cancer according to some studies. The toxins suppress the immune system which also increases vulnerability.

Reproductive Issues

Male fertility issues have been associated with mycotoxin exposure. There is also some evidence linking mold toxicity during pregnancy to low birth weight and birth defects. More research is still needed in this area.

Clearly recognizing and treating mold toxicity is critical for both avoiding these dangerous complications and relieving uncomfortable symptoms.

Testing for Mold Toxicity

Since mold toxicity can be difficult to diagnose based on symptoms alone, specialized lab tests measure mycotoxin levels to confirm exposure:

Urinary Mycotoxin Testing

Urinary mycotoxin testing analyzes a urine sample to detect the presence of mycotoxin byproducts that get excreted through the kidneys. As the body processes environmental mycotoxins, the liver transforms them into various metabolites that make their way into urine. Finding these toxins or their metabolites confirms current exposure and active ingestion of mold toxins that the body is struggling to clear. It provides direct evidence that a person has an elevated internal mycotoxin burden from chronic exposure.

Blood Mycotoxin Testing

A blood sample can be analyzed to detect antibodies produced by the immune system against mycotoxins circulating in the bloodstream. When mold exposure occurs, the body mounts an immune response and starts creating antibodies to mark the foreign mycotoxin substances for removal. Finding elevated levels of these antibodies indicates the person’s body is actively fighting against mold toxin exposure through the blood. It provides confirmation that the individual has frequent contact with mycotoxins internally.

Organic Acids Test

The organic acids test looks for abnormalities in the metabolic processes within cells by measuring levels of key organic acids involved in energy production pathways. Since mycotoxins disrupt cellular function, this test picks up on issues caused by mold exposure. It includes markers for a few specific mycotoxins as well direct indications of mitochondrial dysfunction often seen in those suffering from chronic mold toxicity.

Your doctor may also test blood cell counts, liver enzyme levels, vitals and use imaging scans to assess any internal damage caused by mycotoxins.

How is Mold Toxicity Treated?

Treatment starts with removing the person from the moldy environment and eliminating all exposure sources to prevent further toxin intake and health decline.

Further medical treatment involves:


Medications that boost the immune system and protect the organs may be prescribed, including glutathione, antifungals and mold toxin binders. These help detoxify mold byproducts while also reducing the body’s reaction to exposure.

Oxygen Therapy

Hyperbaric oxygen treatment or ozone steam saunas/insufflation can accelerate the cleansing of mold toxins by saturating tissues with extra oxygen under pressure. This mobilizes toxins for better elimination from the body.

Dietary Changes

An anti-inflammatory diet free of sugar, grains, certain fats and alcohol supports healing by preventing spikes in blood sugar and reducing inflammation. Nutrient dense foods aid in cellular repair and detox processes.

Lifestyle Adjustments

Stress reduction, adequate sleep, exercise and time outdoors allows your body to direct maximum energy towards detoxification and recovery. Proper rest gives the adrenals and immune system a break from responding to the toxins and infections.

With extended treatment, most of the symptoms of mold toxicity gradually abate over weeks and months as the body clears the mycotoxin buildup and recovers normal function. However, permanent damage is possible if there is extensive exposure without proper treatment.

Detecting and addressing chronic mold toxicity early on provides the best chance of recovery without lasting effects. Consult a doctor if mold toxicity is suspected so appropriate testing and treatment can begin immediately.

Preventing Mold Toxicity

Since mold toxicity develops after continuous exposure over time, prevention lies in limiting contact with mold and promptly fixing any moisture issues:

Regular Home Inspections

Check all areas in your home for water leaks, condensation or mold growth regularly. Attics, basements, showers, windows and air cooling units commonly harbor mold. Stop all water intrusion immediately and remediate any growth found.

Use Air Purifiers

High quality HEPA air purifiers for your home remove mold spores and mycotoxins floating in the air so you do not breathe them in. This minimizes daily exposure.

Be Wary After Floods

If your home suffers any level of flooding, assume mold will grow in the damp conditions. Follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines to clean, dry out the property and wear respirators to avoid inhaling spores during remediation. The structure may require rebuilding to prevent future mold issues.

Check Food Quality

Inspect grains, nuts, coffee and spices for any visible mold or moisture. Shop at stores with high product turnover and store these foods properly sealed in a cool, dark space to prevent mold growth.

Through vigilance and proactive prevention habits, you can minimize everyday exposure to mold and lower risks of developing a toxicity issue.


How do you test for mold toxicity?

Specialized lab tests can detect mycotoxins or their byproducts in urine samples or antibodies against mycotoxins in blood samples. These confirm exposure to dangerous molds producing toxins.

Can mold toxicity be cured?

With treatment like medications, oxygen therapy, dietary changes and eliminating exposure, symptoms can resolve over time as the body clears toxins and recovers. However, permanent damage is possible from extensive exposure.

Is toxic mold exposure life threatening?

It can be in certain cases. Toxic mold can weaken immunity, cause fatal lung bleeding, impact brain function and possibly contribute to cancers in some people. Proper treatment is vital.

How is mold toxicity treated?

Treatment involves removing the person from the contaminated environment, using medications and oxygen therapy to aid detoxification, eating an anti-inflammatory diet and utilizing stress reduction techniques.

How do you prevent mold toxicity?

Prevention centers around limiting exposure by fixing all water intrusions, using HEPA air purifiers, cleaning properly after floods, inspecting foods for mold contamination and actively working to minimize contact with damp environments harboring mold growth.


Mold toxicity is a complex illness triggered by chronic exposure to mycotoxins from toxin-producing molds in the environment. Water damaged buildings, contaminated food and improper flood cleanup are common causes of frequent contact with dangerous molds like Stachybotrys and Aspergillus over long periods of time.

In those genetically prone to sensitivity, the mold toxins suppress immune function, reduce cell energy production, alter hormones and even attack and inflame tissues. Patients often exhibit a host of nonspecific neurological, respiratory, skin and gastrointestinal symptoms. Confirming the presence of mycotoxins in urine or blood samples can help diagnose this poorly recognized threat to health.

Once exposure is halted, combinations of medications, oxygen therapy, dietary changes and stress reduction help detoxify the mold byproducts and reduce inflammation so the body can fully heal. Ongoing prevention also relies on eliminating contact with mold spores whenever realistically possible. With knowledge and vigilance, the health dangers associated with pervasive environmental molds can be avoided.

Team RubMD
Team RubMD
RubMD Team is committed to providing reliable and trustworthy information on healthcare-related topics to our readers. We strive to maintain the highest standards of accuracy, professionalism, and ethical conduct in all our content.

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