27 April 2015

Mold exposure symptoms?

In my few previous blog posts, I have mentioned that I have recently had major health issues. I felt like I wanted to blog about that, since maybe it could help somebody or possibly help me, if somebody reading this has some useful comments (if so, please leave a comment!). Perhaps it is best to start with a disclaimer:

I am not a health care professional. All the things mentioned in this blog or based on real-life experiences, articles and comments found from the internet and things I have been told by doctors.

So, I and multiple other people I know have suspected that my symptoms, that have been going on for a long time, have been caused by mold in the apartment from where I just moved away. There is no confirmation on this, expect now that I have lived elsewhere about three and half week, my symptoms have gotten so much better. I could be wrong about this, but all seems like this was the case.

As a background information I need to tell that when I was a child, I lived in multiple apartments that had mold in them. I believe in two or three different apartments, though I do not remember exactly, especially since kids are not told so much about this kind of stuff. We eventually moved out of those apartments, but overall I was exposed to mold quite few years, maybe even six to seven. I myself do not remember, but my father recently told that we once went to a holiday and when we came back, the air in the apartment felt so horrible and hard to breath.

I have had health issues through my youth. I do not know if these have something to do with the mold, but they could. I am very often in fever; ie. during my primary school years (when we were living in the mold apartments) I was sick so often that people believed I was just faking all the time to skip school. I have also throughout my life always been very tired.

The symptoms caused by mold are similar to those caused by flu. These are in short the symptoms listed on the website of The Organisation for Respiratory Health (which is a major health care organization here in Finland):

  • Eye and respiratory symptoms
  • Increased amount of respiratory infections
  • Abnormal fatigue
  • Frequent headaches
  • Mold can raise blood pressure and pulse
  • Asthma and shortness of breath, even radiological changes in the lungs
  • Upset stomach and diarrhea
  • Muscle and joint symptoms, sometimes rheumatic disease
  • Skin symptoms, ie. redness
  • Increased amount of facial herpes infections
  • Neurological pain, numbness of the limbs
  • Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS)

I have also read that exposure to mold can cause lifetime long symptoms, in person's overall health, in example it can lead to infertility. Sinusitis is a very common mold symptom.

I moved to my latest apartment in the summer of 2012. (There was possibly mold in my previous apartment too.) In that autumn I started at high school. I just recently noticed, that whenever I tell something about my school time, I usually include the words "I was sick back then". That should tell something about how often I was sick while living in that apartment.

Last autumn (2014), my health had a major crash. I remember feeling very sick during my math finals and barely able to do the exam. That evening or the next morning I felt so much worse and I checked my temperature, which was 38.5 Celsius degrees (according to google that is 101.3 in Fahrenheit degrees). My normal body temperature is 36 to 36.2 (96.8 to 97.16), which is about half degree less than most people's temperatures, so on somebody else this would mean a fever of 39 degrees. I do not even remember when was the last time I had this much fever.

I was diagnosed with sinusitis (infection in sinuses). My doctor said that there rarely is so clear results from the ultrasound (sinusitis is diagnosed with a small ultrasound machine). I got antibiotics. My fever went down, though not completely. I was still feeling very sick.

I visited doctors multiple times within the next six months. All of them told me it was just a flu and would go away with time. Nobody I know that I talked with considered a half year long flu normal and I was all time told to go to see a doctor, but results were always the same. Only the last doctor I saw couple weeks before moving out, said that maybe there was something wrong in my apartment's air (no mold mentioned though).

This actually makes me a bit angry now; I compare what I told the doctors to what is said about mold symptoms and it feels like I am a textbook example of mold exposure patient. The mold symptoms explanations I have read are almost exactly what I told my doctors. From the list above I had pretty much all the symptoms: of all the ones I could tell myself I was only missing facial herpes (though come to think about it, I have no idea how a facial herpes is suppose to look/feel like). Still none of the multiple doctors I saw mentioned mold. Yay, Finland's public health care!

The last months in the apartment went mostly sleeping. I slept so much I can not even imagine how many hours it was in total. I had constant flu-like symptoms and I felt so sick. I barely was able to get through my school work. Even thinking about doing something else was too tiring. In example, I am a huge fan of The Hunger Games series, but I have not yet seen the most recent movie which was released in November. I just did not have the energy to get to the movie theater, which I could see from my window, let alone sit through a movie. Even staying awake two hours to watch a movie, that I had anticipated, was too much. That is how in bad shape I was.

Few weeks before moving out, I seriously started to suspect mold as the cause. It did not make any sense that it would be this long lasting flu. I compared my symptoms to the mold exposure symptoms, and like I said it was a perfect match. My father said that since I have been exposed so much to mold in my childhood, I would react more heavily on mold exposure. Internet confirmed this theory.

Here are two photos I took just before moving away. They were like this even when I moved in, but nowhere near this bad. The black parts got bigger while I lived there. I could not see the first one, since it was mostly covered by a table, so I was surprised it was this bad:

In front of the radiator. The floor was actually a bit elevated around the black.
black by the kitchen sink

"Mold", was the first thing my father said after seeing them. We obviously could be wrong, but they do look like mold and considering my symptoms, it is a very good guess.

I have now lived three and half weeks at my father's place. I have read that it takes time for the symptoms to go away, some may never leave. But so far I am feeling a lot, I mean A LOT, healthier. My nose barely runs, I rarely cough (my father mentioned this already sometime ago), my nose/cheek area does not feel painful, eye symptoms are gone, headaches have lessen, I am still tired often but not as bad as before, etc... I consider this as yet another sign of that there was mold in my previous apartment.

Now I think all I can do is just wait. Like I think I stated before, I have never been completely healthy, so I do not expect to get totally healthy, but hopefully to the state I was before moving to my latest apartment. I strongly suspect that the mold exposure as a child ruined my health. Hopefully this new exposure (two and half years of exposure sound really worrying) did not make things worse.

My advice: if you suspect there is mold in your apartment, act on it! Moving away is a lot less trouble than possibly ruining your health. For me this may come too late, especially since the worst of it was done while I was a child and unable to affect on this myself, but I am hoping that maybe this post could someday help somebody.

Well, that is my story. If you have any comments (advice, questions, anything), please comment. Any input is highly appreciated!

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