"Surviving Mold" by Ritchie Shoemaker, MD, contains an ominous warning for individuals with mold sensitivity: living or working in a water-damaged building (WDB) can be hazardous to one’s health. Twenty-five percent of the population is genetically predisposed to be harmed by mold, according to Shoemaker.
Shoemaker’s book is more than 700 pages long and written for both health-care professionals and those sickened by mold. It is not light reading but for those interested in finding out more about “mold illness,” the book is an authoritative resource.
I read Shoemaker’s book at my doctor’s urging. She said it might give me insight into my own health issues. I have severe mold allergies and lived in a home with a water-damaged basement for years. Fortunately, I moved out before I was permanently harmed although it has taken me years to recover.
At the time I lived in a WDB, the concept of mold illness did not even exist. I was simply told I had allergies, especially to mold, but little could be done. They did try to desensitize me with allergy shots but with limited success.
Today, a body of scientific evidence supports that exposure to WDB’s causes an inflammatory illness for individuals with a certain genetic makeup. Symptoms are not the same in everyone but can include chronic fatigue, muscle and joint aches, sinus and respiratory problems, ongoing muscle cramps, mental fogginess and never-ending colds.
According to Shoemaker, individuals with mold susceptibility have a “glitch” in their immune system. Normally, antigens, like molds, are engulfed by special white blood cells that clear the bad stuff out fast.
In those with faulty immune systems, the antibody production process fails and the antigens stay around. This sets off a chain of events where the immune system eventually turns on the host and leaves the individual with chronic inflammation, called “mold illness.”
Shoemaker writes that it is difficult to find health-care providers who know much about mold illness even though research on the condition continues to grow. Treatment is available if you find the right caregiver.
This detailed book is a "must read" for individuals looking for answers on whether exposure to mold could be responsible for their health problems. It provides information to take to your doctor.