How Do You Get Tested For Mold – Why are lab tests only part of the picture for diagnosing a mold by Dr. Susan Tanner, MD?
One of the most frequently asked questions I get from people seeking answers to mold related illnesses is, “Can we do a lab test to confirm if I have an illness?” Oh, how I wish it was that simple! Diagnosing and treating mold would be much easier for all of us if there were quick and easy positive/negative tests that told us everything we needed to know right from the start! Unfortunately, that is not the case
How Do You Get Tested For Mold
The biggest reason for this is the concept of “biological individuality”: we are all naturally different, although genetically, some of us are more susceptible to drug- and biotoxin-related diseases.
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: and compromises immune function.)
The other reason, and it’s a big one, is that each of us has a different history of toxic exposure and “total body burden.” In other words, more diseases, toxic exposures, and other stressors that one may have previously experienced may have a synergistic effect, increasing the risk of disease progression. Our bodies act as buckets beneath the slowly eroding environmental toxins, viruses, stressors, processed foods, etc. that we are exposed to over the course of our lives. By adding “drops” our “bucket” begins to fill Our natural detoxification process usually manages the flow of toxins and keeps everything under control. But, if something like an exposure to living in a tainted house is added to the equation, the fad doesn’t just drop, it turns on. Our bodies can’t detoxify or detoxify fast enough to handle the toxic overload, or sometimes detoxification is genetically hindered, and our buckets overflow. This is when the disease occurs, and the whole body can start to feel a bit haywire
A helpful technique that environmental medicine practitioners, such as myself, are taught is to draw a timeline of each patient’s health history. By doing this, we are able to tie the onset of symptoms to some environmental exposure or disease. This exercise often provides the best clues as to what is going on with the patient However, many objective tests must also be looked at to determine what is going on
One of the first things we can’t lose sight of with mold is that testing the environment is just as important as testing the patient Patients cannot get sick from mold unless they are exposed To that end, it’s important to order mold plates and perform some simple DIY tests, or call a licensed and certified professional mold inspector to look at mold counts in homes, cars, and workplaces. This information will also be important for removing patients from exposure, so that treatment can work and they can respond appropriately and recover.
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As for the patient’s examination, there are a number of things that I have done to diagnose and convince family members, workplace supervisors, and sometimes, in a court of law, that a bad environment is the cause. Illness
Since I’m not an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctor and can’t use a scope to do this, I insert a swab into the patient’s nose until it swirls gently. I then wipe the swab onto a mold plate for culture We also obtain nasal swabs by blowing air directly from the patient’s nose into a mold plate. Nasal samples are incubated for a minimum of 5 days Interestingly, we often find mold on culture that matches the mold in the patient’s environment
(Note: An immunoglobulin (Ig) test measures the level of certain immunoglobulins, or antibodies, in the blood.
IgG is one of the body’s immune responses and, if positive, indicates exposure to mold In other words, a person must have exposure to the mold and have an immune response in order to test positive for IgG mold. This differs from an IgE mold test, which is more diagnostic of mold allergies, such as when the immune system overreacts to environmental antigens such as pollen or pet dander. IgE is found in the lungs, skin and respiratory tract Remember, mold is not an allergy, but both can exist in the same patient Sometimes an IgE test is also done, but it is not as clinically important for diagnosing mold disease as an IgG test.
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This is a urine test that shows the presence of secreted mycotoxins in the patient’s urine In other words, if a patient is passing mycotoxins in their urine, their body has been exposed to and is detoxing the toxins produced by the mold in an attempt to clean them out. Repeating this test and reducing the amount of mycotoxin during treatment helps determine a good response that is followed by an improvement in the patient’s symptoms.
| The thymus, bone marrow, and bone also produce TGF There are different types of TGF, but TGF-b1 is associated with immunity
This is a blood test that reveals a specific immune factor that is significantly elevated in patients with mold disease. It is a very helpful monitoring test for patients on treatment because it responds quickly and decreases with symptoms as patients improve. It is imperative that this test is done correctly, and the sample handled properly, or it has no value
These are often standard and inexpensive tests to perform While they don’t diagnose mold themselves, it’s good to have this information when starting treatment
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These tests do not prove mold disease, but both are often highly affected by mold toxins and need to be addressed.
You may wonder how to get these tests done, and that can be a challenge in this age of insurance-based medicine. In addition to nasal swabs, blood tests can be administered by an allied primary care physician or by going to a facility such as “Any Lab Test” and having them run for you. The best route is to seek care from a knowledgeable ENT specialist like Dr. Dennis or a doctor trained in environmental medicine. Go to the American Academy of Environmental Medicine for a list of practitioners by state
There are other diseases that can cause similar symptoms, such as Lyme disease and chronic viruses, such as Epstein-Barr. While these may need to be looked at in some cases, this is usually not the first line to do Even if a patient tests positive for Lyme or other bacteria, until the mold and mycotoxins are resolved, these other diseases may not respond effectively to treatment. It might be one of those questions of “which came first”? A question that, in my clinical experience, is not one that is important for us to answer before we begin the interventions needed to treat mood. While it is true that both chronic Lyme disease or a viral infection may have weakened the system enough that it was exposed to a mold, I learned that treating other diseases without first addressing the mold will get you nowhere and quickly. This is because once mold begins to affect the body, it actually turns on and exacerbates symptoms associated with other illnesses. For example, some patients never know until they visit a mud house and get so sick that they get tested for infection, just to rule it out. Lyme has become a major player in their failing health, as the mold causes so much inflammation and the immune system that their bodies can no longer deal with. On the other hand, if a patient is not responding the way we feel they should, and we are all CERTAIN that the pattern has been resolved in the environment, there are other specialized and individualized tests that can be done. But, this is only after careful consideration and discussion with each patient At this point we can start looking for and treating other things, such as bacteria and/or parasites, to get you back to health
Ultimately, the disease can be frustratingly difficult to diagnose, but refreshingly responsive to treatment, especially when a patient does what it takes to remove themselves from exposure. unfortunately,
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