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Information on Mould Allergy, Candida & IBS

Dr Diana Samways MBBS from her book "I'm a Patient, Get me out of Here" - How the contents of the air we breathe affects health. Mould allergy symptoms include mood swings, depression, exhaustion and panic attacks. Hints on reducing the indoor mould count and treating acute attacks. Connection with IBS and allergies.

Mould Allergy 
Moulds are everywhere in the air, and there are several thousand different species. They are visible on vegetables and on the inside walls of some houses, where they appear as black areas or dots. Houses with much visible mould should be avoided when purchasing as de-moulding houses is very difficult. 

While there may be no obvious visible mould, many people are allergic to the moulds in the air they breathe. Moulds are very small particles in the air, (0.3 microns) and together with dust and other items, they are impossible to filter out as they pass through the filters and redistribute themselves unless the latter are constantly cleaned.

Currently we have no convenient instrument to measure mould count in air; a meter or electronic counter would be immensely useful. We also have no way of instantly distinguishing which mould affects people or houses, nor whether it is the mould, or a toxin produced by it, which causes the problem. The best available measurements are done through exposing agar (jelly) culture medium plates in the rooms concerned, and having a public analyst's laboratory culture and identify the moulds, which takes several weeks and is quite costly.

The Symptoms of Mould Allergy
Many of the symptoms are identical with those of IBS and sometimes, food allergy, probably because moulds are part of the cause in these conditions, however the following are more marked in mould allergy:

  • Gross mood swings including depression (paralysing in the mornings) Acute fear and panic with rapid heart (often treated by cardiologists with anticoagulants and cardioversion,) this is usually worse at 3AM and involves waking up terrified night after night, and may eventually develop into fear of going to sleep.
  • Bouts of energy loss to the point of total inertia, where the thought of doing anything at all is quite impossible.
  • Joint pains usually leading to arthritis in large weight-bearing joints.
  • These symptoms may vary in intensity depending on the weather.
  • They may also be much worse in some houses than others.

Other General Symptoms

  • Obesity unresponsive to dietary restriction
  • Symptoms of IBS including bloating

Localised Symptoms

  • Hay Fever and nasal symptoms
  • Asthma
  • Urinary problems, frequency
  • Joint pains
  • Flatulence, abdominal bloating
  • Swelling of legs and ankles

A mould allergy sufferer may notice major changes in the way they feel and the bits that hurt when the weather changes for the worse, and be much better in hot dry climates. When it rains, the mould count rises with the damp, when there is a gale blowing, the moulds involved in decomposing vegetable matter are thrown into the air. There is a massive increase in the mould count before a thunder storm (which may sour milk and make swimming pools turn green.)

As many of the specific symptoms of mould allergy could be construed as psychiatric or cardiological (heart related) it is easy to see how people may get referred to the wrong medical department and wind up on tranquillisers or heart drugs. There are very few specialist allergy clinics, and almost all of them are run privately, and not as part of the NHS.

A pollen allergy which extends outside the specific pollen season is usually really a mould allergy. Also there is a tie-up with candida and yeast overgrowth problems in the intestines, and each will make the other worse, as all three organisms are from the mould family. (Fungi.)

As a long term sufferer from mould allergy (for which there are no specific tests) I have, by subjective observation and personal research, become an expert on the environmental aspects of this problem. One of the more distressing symptoms is acute terror in mouldy houses and worst in the night, almost suggesting a haunting until one works out the real cause. I suspect many people with intermittent panic attacks and morning depression may have a missed diagnosis of mould allergy. The symptoms improve dramatically after a few hours away from the mouldy house, only to recur shortly after returning to the source of the problem, when the moulds are again inhaled through the lungs, which are a very efficient entry point into the body.

Unless causing specific problems such as asthma, mould allergy is difficult to treat with conventional drugs.

Emergency Action to Abort an Attack of Mould Allergy/Candida

  1. Don't eat (temporarily), as this reduces total load. Drink water, some people find tea helps.
  2. Take an anti-Candida preparation or drug if possible, for a short time.
  3. Take pepto-bismol tablets 2 four times daily with medicinal charcoal.
  4. Remember all this is only temporary, and will go away, "you are not going permanently mad".
  5. Restart food gradually using anti-Candida diet and food combining.
  6. Fix the house.

Environmental Control of Mould Allergy
The mould count in the air we breathe varies directly with the ambient humidity level. Heating, dehumidifiers and extractor fans in kitchens and bathrooms help. Intelligent ventilation is vital. Leaks must be fixed.

The Airfree 
This ingenious gadget removes dust and mould from the air by heat (without itself getting particularly hot) and requires no filters or cleaning. It takes four weeks for the full effect to occur, and must be left on constantly in a particular room (and not moved from room to room.) It is certainly effective, since using one in my kitchen the Basil plants stopped getting mould, and started to thrive instead of suffering a lingering death. The average house would require at least two Airfrees, one in the bedroom and one elsewhere, perhaps in the kitchen.

Copyright Dr Samways 2005

Dr Diana Samways in a conventionally trained doctor (was a GP) she runs a holistic medical practice in Haslemere Surrey, treating IBS, Candida, allergies, addiction weight problems and much else. www.allergydoctor.org.uk

"I'm a Patient, Get me out of Here" and Airfree devices mentioned above are available from Healthy House.