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“I have been fighting a health war by myself not knowing what it is. Brain fog. Autoimmune issues. Thiroid [sic] problems. Fatigue. Allergies. And more.” This was the experience of one South African woman after more than five years of suffering from extreme, but seemingly unrelated symptoms. It was only after hearing about mould toxicity and then discovering black mould (one of the deadliest biotoxins known to humans) in a cupboard that she realised what she was up against.

The World of Mould Toxicity

You might need to sit down for this stat…infections from mould and fungi kill about 1.5 million people around the world every year! Sometimes, these deaths are misdiagnosed or reduced to their symptoms, but this type of toxicity is their root cause. 

It’s important to note that, while some of these natural floral species can produce mycotoxins, they are not, of themselves, poisonous or toxic. So, the reaction they may cause in people depends on several factors – such as:

  • the length of time you’re exposed to them (are you living in the environment, or did you just visit it briefly?)
  • your proximity to them (is the mould next to your bed or in an attic you seldom enter?)
  • the state of your health and immune system    

The effects of mould toxicity on some people can be vague – often confused for anything from hay fever to lupus. We inhale or ingest their spores without knowing it. And, in small amounts, we may never feel their effects.

In South Africa, many types of this insidious flora can cause illness. The most common varieties found here are Aspergillus, Cladosporium, and Penicillium.

Mould and fungi are insidious; growing in corners and ceilings, hiding behind fridges, or around the dark corners of cupboards. They can even grow in your car and on your clothes or shoes. These natural flora flourish in dark, damp areas; including in insulation, carpeting, drywall, ceilings, wood, and cardboard. Most of them appear as green or black spots or patches.

Even when you can’t see obvious evidence of moisture or mould, it could be lurking in your living and working spaces.

Some Symptoms of Mould Toxicity

Exposure to these spores can cause a host of issues. You might be suffering from one or more of these without knowing the root cause. These symptoms include:

  • Respiratory problems
    • Wheezing
    • Coughing
    • Tight chest
    • Shortness of breath
  • Cognitive problems
    • Confusion
    • Brain fog
    • Memory problems
  • Gastrointestinal problems
    • Bloating
    • Food intolerances
    • Pain and cramping
  • Allergy symptoms
    • Sneezing
    • Itchy, watery eyes
    • Runny or stuffy nose
    • Rashes
    • Continuous coughing
  • Pain
    • Abdominal pain or cramps
    • Muscle pain
    • Nerve pain
  • Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (a severe pulmonary disease that demands immediate medical attention)
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Changes in weight for no obvious reason
  • Fatigue
  • Excessive thirst
  • Hair loss
  • Strange, metallic taste

As the evidence shows, the symptoms are varied and non-specific. This makes this type of toxicity extremely uncomfortable to live with, as well as frustrating; as it’s so often misdiagnosed and mistreated.

Of course, there are different infections and symptoms from different types of toxins. Some moisture may simply cause a runny nose or an itchy throat, while a more aggressive mould can have deadly consequences over time.

Black Mould

While it’s important to get rid of all moisture in your home for health reasons, black mould is obviously crucial to identify. It can often be found in showers, cupboards, on wet spots in ceilings and walls, in basements, and in floor cavities.

Children and babies, the elderly, and those with respiratory diseases or immune issues are most at risk of getting extremely sick or even dying from black mould toxicity.

Only a professional can accurately identify the types of flora in your home. So, call them in immediately to rid your space of any moisture-related issues. These can only have detrimental effects on your health, whether or not they’re of the toxic varieties.

Preventing Mould and Fungi Infections

It’s essential to prevent mould and fungus rather than trying to fight the long-term effects of their toxicity.

You can do this by:

  • Keeping your space well-ventilated. Open the windows and doors whenever possible and use extraction fans when necessary. This is especially important in areas like basements, attics, laundries, garages, and so on; where moisture levels are often higher.
  • Regularly check for and repair leaks, drips, or signs of moisture damage.  
  • Pay attention. Inspect your home regularly for any signs of fungus or mould and remove these immediately. 
  • If an area has flooded or there’s been excessive leaking, be sure to get it completely dry within about 24 hours to prevent mould and fungus from taking over in these ideal conditions.
  • Use dehumidifiers in indoor areas that are prone to humidity and moisture. This is especially important in humid areas like the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.  
  • If you live or are building in a damp or humid area, choose materials that are mould-resistant. This is crucial for bathrooms and kitchens, but is advantageous for the whole home, if possible.

Protecting Yourself and Your Family

Reduce your risk of mystery infections as a result of mould and fungus by understanding the symptoms, dangers, and prevention methods. If you suspect a problem in your home, it’s essential to seek professional help for assessment and remediation.

Bear in mind that ongoing health issues may be due to something less obvious. So, if you’ve been struggling for a while and you aren’t getting answers, check for mould and fungus in your home and be prepared for a long, but effective journey back to good health once you’re entirely rid of the toxin in your space.

To help you to regain your health and combat the effects of the toxicity, the following Nordens Ultimate products are invaluable:

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