Aspergillus is a type of fungus whose spores hang in the air and can end up getting breathed into the body. It’s usually not dangerous to breathe in aspergillus spores, but it can be. For people who suffer from autoimmune disorders, a weak immune system, or even something as simple as allergies that affect how the lungs operate, chronic exposure to aspergillus spores can lead to a disease called invasive aspergillosis.
What are the symptoms of long-term mold exposure?
Over time, breathing in mold spores can lead to serious illness. Sometimes symptoms may take a long time to present in someone who has been exposed to a dangerous amount of mold, if ever at all. In people who do suffer from symptoms and complications regarding chronic exposure to aspergillus, the symptoms can be mild or severe.
Mold exposure can lead to mental health disorders such as anxiety, cognitive issues such as memory loss and confusion, gastrointestinal problems, weight gain, muscle cramps, and increased light sensitivity.
When overexposure to aspergillus mold spores occurs, it can progress into an infection called aspergillosis. Symptoms of aspergillosis can present as fever and chills, shortness of breath, a cough that brings up blood, chest pain, joint pain, headache and vision problems, and skin lesions.
What are the symptoms of mold toxicity?
Not all cases of mold exposure can lead to health issues, but in the event that it does progress to mold toxicity, a person can suffer greatly from a variety of different symptoms. These symptoms can mimic allergies and cause sneezing, runny nose, coughing, wheezing, itchy and watery eyes, and a rash or skin irritation.
Mold itself isn’t toxic and is unlikely to lead to mold toxicity unless it creates a type of toxin that can become poisonous. It does this by producing mycotoxins, which are naturally occurring toxins in the air. These mycotoxins and their ability to produce naturally isn’t fully understood because it only happens in some mold species.
Does mold cause Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is an infection caused by Borrelia bacteria and can only be contracted through a bite from an infected tick. The bacteria compromise the body’s immune system and attack the nervous system, muscles, joints, and other organs if left untreated. Therefore, mold itself cannot cause Lyme disease, but it can exacerbate symptoms and even contribute to the overall level of health of someone suffering from Lyme disease.
The complications that arise from mold exposure over a long period of time tend to happen in individuals with weakened immune systems or those who are already suffering from chronic disease. Thus, people with Lyme disease are more likely to experience mold toxicity than their healthy counterparts.
What’s the connection between toxic mold and Lyme disease?
In patients who suffer from Lyme disease, mold toxicity can be especially detrimental to recovery. Because the symptoms of Lyme disease and aspergillosis can sometimes overlap, it’s hard to determine whether or not it’s the Lyme or the mold that is causing the symptoms.
Some doctors even maintain that there is a direct correlation between mold toxicity and other chronic illness such as chronic fatigue syndrome, MS, Parkinson’s, and fibromyalgia. The conditions and their relation to mold toxicity has become so prevalent among doctors that they often treat the mold toxicity first and foremost to help combat the symptoms and infections of other illnesses.
What is the treatment for aspergillosis?
To treat aspergillosis, doctors must first test for the mold spores in the body through a series of different tests. An X-ray may be performed on the chest area in an attempt to identify a fungal mass in the lungs. A sputum test may also be done, checking a sample of sputum for the filaments of the mold. There are also tissue and blood tests that can be done to help identify whether or not mold spores are building up in the body, and in rare cases a biopsy may be performed on tissue in the lungs or sinuses.
Depending on the rate of infection and how serious the complications are, treatment varies. If the infection is mild, treatment may not be required at all. A doctor will observe the patient to ensure that it doesn’t progress and it will eventually clear up on its own. If that isn’t the case, though, anti-fungal medications will be administered. Other treatments include oral corticosteroids to help prevent the worsening of cystic fibrosis or asthma, surgery if the fungal mass it unable to be treated with anti-fungal medications, or embolization. Embolization is for the most serious cases and is designed to stop bleeding from the lungs that an aspergilloma can lead to.
The bottom line
For people battling chronic illnesses such as Lyme disease, the presence of mold can be detrimental to recovery. Testing for mold exposure may not be done, and in turn, could lead to a missed occurrence of mold toxicity that could worsen Lyme disease symptoms and even help the disease progress and worsen. To avoid aspergillosis, it’s important to manage and be aware of the overlapping symptoms that can sometimes lead to misdiagnosis and ignored infection.