Chronic fatigue is something many people complain about when they’ve been exposed to household mold for a long period of time. While respiratory symptoms are often rapidly attributed to mold, people are not so quick to attribute fatigue to the presence of mold in the home. They may not realize that exposure to mold can cause fatigue or they may simply assume the fatigue is due to something like, like a busy schedule or just not getting enough sleep.
It is true that fatigue is only one of a long list of symptoms associated with exposure to mold in the home. Other common symptoms of mold exposure include coughing, sneezing, shortness of breath, a runny nose, itchy eyes, sinus infections, bronchitis, pneumonia and asthma attacks. You can read more about mold-related health problems. Severe fatigue is often experienced along with other symptoms. In some cases, the degree of fatigue can be extreme and it can be fairly debilitating.
Chronic fatigue caused by mold exposure, especially long-term mold exposure, may be caused by a number of different things. Often, it is due to a combination of factors.
Symptoms related to mold exposure may interfere with sleep. For instance, coughing can keep you awake much of the night. Asthma attacks may also interfere with sleep and even if they occur during the day, they can be exhausting.
Exposure to mold can cause infections, including pneumonia. Any type of illness can cause fatigue and the more serious the infection, the greater the degree of fatigue you might experience.
Exposure to mold has also been linked to depression and fatigue is a common symptom of depression. Insomnia is also common with depression and lack of adequate sleep contributes further to fatigue. You can read more about mold and depression here.
Chronic fatigue syndrome is a condition in which patients experience extreme fatigue that cannot be attributed to any other medical condition. It’s more than just feeling tired. The degree of fatigue experienced by many people with CFS is quite debilitating and people may be unable to work and have to apply for disability benefits.
Fatigue is not the only symptom of CFS. Other symptoms may include trouble concentrating, poor short-term memory, headaches, a sore throat, and muscle and/or joint pain. Many of these things are also possible symptoms of exposure to mold.
Doctors don’t know what causes CFS. Many think it is caused by a combination of factors. Some people may be genetically predisposed to the condition. Some scientists think it may be triggered by a viral infection, while others think it may be related to a problem with the immune system. Mold is yet another possible suspect.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), a study found high concentrations of mycotoxins in the urine of many patients with CFS. Many of these patients reported being exposed to mold, though some were not aware of any mold exposure. Still, the presence of mycotoxins, toxic substances produced by some kinds of mold, suggests that the patients had been exposed even if they were not aware of it. While this is not definitive proof that mold causes CFS, it does suggest some correlation between the two.
If you’re experiencing more fatigue than normal lately, especially if this has been going on for a while, it’s time to schedule an appointment with your doctor.
There are all sorts of things that can cause ongoing fatigue, including infections, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, autoimmune disorders, lyme disease, depression, sleep disorders including sleep apnea, and nutritional deficiencies including lack of iron and B12 in the diet. Exposure to mold is only one of the possible causes. To help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis and formulate the best treatment plan, be sure to tell your doctor about all of the symptoms you are experiencing, even if you’re not sure they are related. Tell your doctor when your excessive fatigue began and if it has gotten worse over time. Be sure to let your doctor know if you’ve been exposed to mold.
Your doctor will probably order some tests, including blood work, to help make a diagnosis. A polysomnogram, or sleep study, may also be ordered. Since there are so many possible causes of excessive fatigue, it can take some time to narrow down the possibilities and make a diagnosis.
The treatment for fatigue will depend on the cause and you may be referred to a specialist for treatment. Some conditions causing fatigue, including CFS, cannot be cured but can only be managed. Treatment may include medications, physical therapy or moderate exercise, nutritional therapy, and even psychotherapy if it is thought that depression is contributing to your fatigue.
If your fatigue is caused by exposure to mold, you’ll need to arrange to have the mold removed from your home in addition to receiving any necessary medical treatment. You won’t be able to recover fully if you continue to be exposed to mold.
If you are experiencing mold-related health problems, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends consulting your physician before attempting to handle the mold removal on your own. The work will further expose you to mold and that may make your condition worse. Even if your doctor says it is safe for you to do the work yourself, your fatigue may make that difficult or impossible for you. The work can be difficult and time-consuming, depending on the extent of the mold problem in your home.
We suggest scheduling a free in-home consultation with a mold removal professional who can make sure you’ve located all areas of mold, explain the work that needs to be done, and advise you about safety precautions you can take to minimize your exposure to mold during the cleanup process. You’ll also get a written estimate for the cost of the job, but you’re under no obligation and the consultation is free, so you have nothing to lose. Follow this link to find experienced professionals offering free consultations in your area.