Pink and Fuzzy

December 2016 - Family Wellness

I was recently cleaning out my pup’s water bowl and felt that telltale sign of slime from leaving it too long. Pink mold had invaded the bowl and left behind its tinge of colour and slipperiness. Pink scum like this is often found in damp areas like bathtubs, showers, planters, and places like water coolers, bottles, and coffee makers. Formally named Rhodotorula, this fungus can have serious health effects as can many other common molds and fungi found in the average home.

Molds and fungi are among us! As awareness begins to grow around the health effects and chronicity of exposure we are appreciating the seriousness about exposure to molds. A 2011 study in the Sport Health journal recommended that children’s mouth guards as well as dental appliances be rinsed daily with anti-fungals due to mold contamination. Commercially prepared fruit salads, fruit drinks, and even coconut milks can form molds. Immunocompromised people have been encouraged to stay away from canned coconut milk due to the possibility of mold, according to a 2013 article from the International Journal of Food Microbiology. Molds are an insidious and often overlooked cause of many chronic symptoms and should be evaluated properly with comprehensive labs and skilled practitioners.

Exposure to molds can cause symptoms such as skin irritation, nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, and wheezing. Severe reactions such as fever, shortness of breath, and headaches may occur among people exposed to large amounts of molds in work settings, such as farmers working around moldy hay. Some people with chronic lung illnesses, such as COPD or emphysema, may develop mold infections in their lungs. I recently worked with a patient who had developed a mold issue after spending time in the desert around Phoenix, AZ. His main symptom was a debilitating cough that didn’t respond to any prescriptions or specialists’ treatments. We decided to treat for mold and his symptoms began to improve.

Discovering possible sources of contamination with molds and fungi is the first step toward repairing the damage. Evaluate basements, bathrooms, and areas of the office or home that have a musty smell. Mold is often found in older buildings but also in new homes with poor ventilation or those constructed from materials that were damp during building.

Evaluating the health effects of mold exposure can be done with comprehensive tests examining a variety of mold spores that are affecting the body, often found in the gut or sinuses. Treatments may include anti-fungal medications or herbal medicines. Anti-candida protocols often don’t work due to the difference between mold and yeast. Don’t be dismissed for wanting to evaluate mold and fungus with your health concerns!  Environmental medicine it is a poorly understood area in our healthcare system but mold and fungus exposures can be treated with natural medicines when there is an appreciation for how serious and debilitating the exposures can be on our health.

Dr. Shelby Entner is a sought-after naturopathic physician, speaker and expert from Vero Health Naturopathic Care.

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