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This is a type of fungi with the scientific species name of Stachybotrys sp. It grows in areas where ventilation is reduced and the amount of moisture in the area is increased. The most common form of this mold is Stachybotrys chartarum. It can be found in bathrooms, kitchens, cupboards or any other surface made of wood. This mold has the ability to produce a toxin that was found to be lethal in mice and spores causing hemorrhages in humans. Below we will discuss the symptoms and blood tests used to help confirm diagnosis and treatment.
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The signs and symptoms of exposure to are divided into three stages:
During the first stage, one of the first signs of an infection with this mold are swollen and irritated eyes. The eyes will feel itchy, watery and burning, and as if the eyes have sand inside of them. The person will constantly sneeze and have a low grade headache that feels like a dull throbbing pain. There might be skin involvement with the skin feeling itchy, red and irritated.
During the second stage of mold exposure, the person can experience a variety of symptoms that range from mild to severe. The person can have a constant headache, hair loss, skin rash or sores on the skin that take a long time to heal. Other symptoms of black mold include nose bleeds, loss of appetite and weight loss. The increase in other infections become numerous during this time. Infections can be diagnosed in the sinuses and the lungs. The risk of asthma and difficulty breathing can also be apparent. The lymph nodes in the neck and groin become swollen and the person can develop short term memory loss. The intestines may not function correctly and the person can have diarrhea and vomiting. The severity of the second stage increases as the nervous system becomes involved.
During the third stage, the nervous system involvement can lead to brain damage, long term memory loss, tumors and hemorrhaging in the lungs. For some people, prolonged exposure to this type of mold can end in death.
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The Blood Test for Black Mold
This disease is not diagnosed by blood tests only, but they can be a good indicator of exposure to black mold. The main three tests include white blood cell count, IgE and IgG counts and blood mycotoxin levels:
1. White Blood Cell Count: This black mold blood test will measure if the person has an elevated white cell count. Therefore, a physician will withdraw a sample of blood or send the person to a laboratory to have it tested for the white cell count. If the results show that there is an elevated white blood cell T-lymphocyte count, this can be indicative of mold exposure, but further tests will need to be completed.
2. Antibody Testing: The human body does not produce a specific antibody to the toxin if there is mold exposure. However, the blood can also have a higher amount of IgG and IgE antibodies due to the allergy response that it causes. The physician will need to carry out a differential diagnosis study to ascertain if an increased antibody level is due to mold.
3. Mycotoxin Testing: The mycotoxin is the harmful chemical produced by this fungi. It is possible for some people to have measurable levels of this toxin within blood, urine, and mucus. A sample of blood will be sent to the laboratory to look for the presence of mycotoxins such as Stachylysin, which is common to it.
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The treatment for this toxic syndrome can be quite complex. The doctor will first try to treat any life-threatening conditions occurring in the major organs such as the lungs. The main goal will then be to restore the immune system using immunotherapy.