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As discussed in my previous blog, Mycotoxin Illness is not something I learned about in medical school and something that I was initially hesitant to explore with patients. Yet as is often the case when you have a medical practice like mine, you tend to see patients with multiple symptoms who have consulted with multiple providers and have not been given an explanation, diagnosis, or clear treatment plan. Through years of working with such patients, I have become much more knowledgeable of and comfortable with treating conditions that are often dismissed by traditional Western Medicine. Mycotoxin Illness is one such condition. In today’s blog, I am presenting the story of one patient recently diagnosed and treated for Mycotoxin Illness. INITIAL VISIT I first met Kathy* in August 2020. During our first visit, Kathy described symptoms that began in 2016 during a time of elevated emotional stress, life transition, and a move into a new apartment. Her symptoms had increased over the past 4-5 years and included:
Kathy had sought help from multiple physicians prior to our consultation including her primary care provider, two rheumatologists, an allergy specialist, and even a trip to the Mayo Clinic! Despite numerous laboratory and diagnostic tests, she was not provided with a clear diagnosis or explanation for her symptoms.
“I’ve had doctors tell me that it’s all in my head" Kathy explained during that first visit as she described her symptoms and we discussed her past medical history. She was frustrated and visibly exhausted. Through questioning, I learned that she had been living in her current apartment for three years and had to run dehumidifiers continuously due to wet carpet.I initiated a comprehensive laboratory workup, evaluating:
Mycotoxins are toxins that are released into the air from mold. Mold can grow in any wet/damp environment. In genetically susceptible individuals, mycotoxins can cause widespread inflammation, dysfunction, and tissue damage. Mycotoxins are very small and not easily detected in the blood, therefore I utilize urine mycotoxin testing when I have a strong suspicion of Mycotoxin Illness.
SECOND VISIT Kathy and I met one month later in September 2020 to review the results of her laboratory workup, which revealed:
Zearalenone (ZEA) is a mycotoxin that has been shown to damage liver cells, bone marrow production, and the immune system. Exposure to ZEA is mostly through water-damaged buildings.
I outlined a treatment plan for Kathy, which included:
We had a lengthy discussion regarding the likely role of mycotoxins in her various symptoms and the fact that her current living situation was negatively impacting her health. I encouraged her to find a way to remove herself from her apartment for a minimum two-week period to assess for change in symptoms. A treatment protocol was outlined to address Mycotoxin Illness directly, including:
FOUR MONTHS LATER Kathy and I did not meet again until four months later. Rather than a two-week trial away from her apartment, Kathy had decided to immediately vacate the apartment and had moved to a new city. She had implemented all of the therapies outlined above and described her response
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, many of us have been spending far more time in our homes than we had in the past. Not surprising, then, that I have seen an uptake in Mycotoxin Illness over the past year. Even Kathy noted that her symptoms had worsened with the onset of the pandemic and more time in her apartment. This is just one patient’s story, but it is consistent with what I have been seeing in my practice over the past several years. While the response to treatment varies per individual, I have been amazed by the rapid and significant improvement in symptoms witnessed in those diagnosed and treated for Mycotoxin Illness. For those who have developed Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS), testing and treatment protocols are often more complex. You can learn more about Mycotoxin Illness in my previous blog What you need to know about Mold & Mycotoxin Illness.Concerned that you may be experiencing symptoms related to mold exposure? Contact our office to schedule an appointment! 231-638-5585
*This patient has read and approved this blog, however, her name has been changed to maintain privacy/patient confidentiality.
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Integrative Medicine, Carin Nielsen, MD413 Waukazoo Ave.Petoskey, MI 49770