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Natural Solutions for Mold Allergy

My sons and I all seem to be sensitive to mold, which I think is fairly common in people who have CTDs and related conditions (mitral valve prolapse, asthma, migraines, irritable bowel, TMJ, etc.)

My younger son has had a minor sensitivity to mold for awhile, but last winter he developed a severe mold allergy along with multiple chemical sensitivities. He would get headaches and frequently itch all over, especially whenever he went in a used bookstore, a thrift shop, near anything dusty or was when he was in any place with visible mold or aged items. He even started itching at school and had to be home schooled for awhile. I had similar problems, but my son had it the worst.

His problems started after taking the antibiotic amoxicillin for a sinus infection. Interestingly, amoxicillin is a form of penicillin, which is made from mold. The good news is that the sinus infection went away from the antibiotic, but I think having a twice a day dose of mold from the amoxicillin for a week left him hypersensitive to mold for a while.


Update two years later: My son had seemed to be getting less and less sensitive to mold over the last couple of years since I wrote this page, but he recently had to take amoxicillin for ear infections the first time again in a couple of years. And guess what? His mold allergy returned. So now we are two for two:

Ear infections => Amoxicillin => Mold Allergy Flare Up

He had to read an old book from the library for a school assignment shortly after the course of antibiotics. He ended up coming home with a bad headache, presumably from mold on the book.

We put him back on the diet outlined in this section, got him a newer book and now he seems to be getting less sensitive to mold again. But I'm even more convinced now that the course of amoxicillin was a trigger for his mold allergy.

 

Luckily, we were able to help him overcome most of his allergies through modifying his environment and changing his diet. He still gets headaches in used bookstores and Goodwill shops, and has some lingering chemical sensitivities, but he continues to improve over time and for the most part he has returned to a normal life. We were really worried about him for awhile as he seemed to be reacting to almost everything in sight. However, after seeing a number of doctors, reading a lot of books and researching everything we could on the Internet, we found quite a few measures to take to help him get back to normal. I've listed these below. (The diet changes we found helpful are in the next section on Mold Allergies - how diet changes might help.)

Cleaning Up Mold and Mildew in the Home

  • We cleaned up any visible mold in the house and got rid of anything and everything old we could part with, even if it didn't have visible mold.

  • I gave away my used book collection. Most books that I had bought second hand and any book I had bought new that was over ten years old was given away. For the few books that I wanted to keep that were out of print and irreplaceable, I moved these to sealed boxes in the garage.

  • We stopped buying organic fruit and veggies. While I like the idea of buying organic produce, it does tend to get moldier faster than produce treated with commercial fungicides. So when my son had the mold allergy problems, I had to pick the lesser of two evils and go with eliminating the mold versus avoiding fungicides. After he got over the mold issues, I went back to organic produce.

  • We had a little dark spots on our hardwood floors that I never thought too much about until we started actively seeking out mold issues. Then I hired a contractor to open up the walls around the floor where the dark spots were. We found out that we had a leak on the roofline where our garage was connected to the house. The contractor opened up the walls and there was quite a bit of mold within the walls we were not able to see. The dark spots on the floor were just the tip of the ice berg. The contractor opened up all of the walls until there were no more signs of mold, bleached everything and then patched it all up.

  • We got rid of the fruit bowl on the dining room table. I try not to buy any fruit that needs ripening any more and just keep all of the fruit and veggies in the fridge. I noticed my son would get itchy just going near the fruit bowl when his allergies were at their worst, especially when it was filled with organic fruit.

  • I cleaned and bleached out the refrigerator and the recycling bucket.

  • I had a crock pot with a poor design that I think caused it too release too much moisture into the air. It was a Rival brand. I think they make the plastic lids too light (probably to save money) but it allows a lot of steam to escape and add a lot of moisture to the house. I switched to a Proctor Silex brand crock pot with a better fitting lid. I was pleasantly surprised to find out how much drier it kept the kitchen.

  • We heavily bleached the tiles and any visible mold in the bathrooms.

  • We threw out all of the bed pillows in the house and replaced them with new hypoallergenic bed pillows.

  • We replaced my son's mattress and took down his drapes, just leaving a shade up in his room.

  • We bought air purifiers for multiple rooms, especially my son's room.

  • We bought a dehumidifier for the house from Sears.

  • We threw out any rugs or pillows that were old.

  • We removed the rugs and fabric toilet sets out of the bathrooms.

  • We washed all of the drapes in the house.

  • I started storing the hay for our pet guinea pigs in the garage.

  • I threw away any nonwashable heat packs. We had found moist heat packs very helpful for fibromyalgia, but in hindsight I think they did more harm than good by creating perfect environments within the packs and in places on our skin that the packs came in contact with for yeast and mold to proliferate.

  • I increased the temperature in which I washed clothes to be as hot as possible. When my son's allergies were at their worst, I didn't buy him any clothes that were cold water wash only.

  • I put a fan on in the bathroom where we shower.

  • I took the towels down each day after we showered and washed them right away.

  • We had all of the floors cleaned.

  • We bleached all around our windows. My husband even took out the panes to bleach in the tracks where the windows rested. He started feeling itchy after doing this himself, so we think this may have been a big source of mold.

  • We had a structural engineer look at our house because during the rainy season water would collect in the crawlspace. He advised us to get attachments to the downspouts so that rain flowing down from the gutters was deposited farther away from the house out into the lawn.

  • As a long term solution, I hired a contractor to put a pump in the crawl space of our house to prevent any standing water from accumulating under the house after it would rain. Eventually we also had our aging water pipes and drain lines replaced. The air in our house seemed fresher and less musty after the new pipes were installed. So I suspect the old pipes had some leaks and corresponding moldy spots inside the walls that we never detected.

  • I stopped using a steamer appliance as I think it allowed too much moisture to get into the air. Now I steam veggies in a steamer basket on the stove so I can use the exhaust fan.

While getting rid of mold in the home is important, we also found it extremely helpful to change my son's diet. I think this is a highly overlooked factor in dealing with mold.

Also see Allergic to mold? Diet changes might help.

 

 

 

Related sections of interest:

Allergic to mold? Diet changes might help.

Beneficial Bacteria

Diet Tips for Irritable Bowel

Read my Section on Sinus Infections

Itchy Skin / Sensitive Skin

MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivities)

Natural Therapies for Morgellons - The cause of this disorder is controversial and not clearly understood. My family had some similar symptoms so I wrote up what we found helpful.

 

Selected Links:

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Mold - Helpful information from the California Department of Health Services.

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