Health expert warns of mold-related illnesses after Hurricane Florence

Health expert warns of mold-related illnesses after Hurricane Florence

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - As cold weather continues, many may find themselves facing winter illnesses, but if you have symptoms you cannot seem to shake, one Wilmington health professional wants you to be aware of an unexpected potential cause.

“Mold is not something people have talked about much before so it’s kind of not on everyone’s radar as to what that can make you feel like," said Teresa Holler, a physicians assistant at Victory Health Consultants in Wilmington. “It can cause an allergic type of reaction. It can seem like you have a cold. It can seem like you have an allergy but it tends to get better when you leave the house for a length of time.”

Hollers expects to see an increase in mold-related issues as the community continues to recover from Hurricane Florence.

“I don’t think we’ve started to see the patients coming in from that yet," Holler said. "First of all, everyone is in shock. Everyone is trying to repair their home. It’s just been a long recovery. Most places aren’t recovered yet. They’re too busy to pay attention to how they feel.

"I think we’re going to see later the vague symptoms developing and then not knowing where to go for help and not knowing mold has anything to do with it.”

According to Holler, if you are experiencing vague symptoms that have gone unexplained, it may be time to see a professional, especially if water damaged your home.

“These are more vague symptoms like dizziness or headaches or cognitive dysfunction, memory issues,” she said. "They call it a four-second delay where it just takes you a little too long to get your thoughts together. It can also cause depression and mood disorders and reduction in school performance in kids, vague symptoms you wouldn’t think to go looking for a diagnosis for.”

Holler said mold-related issues are harder to identify and are often presumed to be a virus or allergy on first presentation.

“The good news is that three quarters of us can detoxify the toxins from mold well," she said. "Unfortunately, a quarter of us can’t. About 25 percent of the population has a difficulty processing that out so if you’re one of those lucky ones, it’s something that in time your body will process out like any other toxin. If you’re one that struggles, you need binders. There’s different binders that bind to different kinds of mold. There’s a urine test that can be done that tests you to see which mold toxins that are stuck inside your body.”

Holler said saunas can be helpful and there are many options to treat mold toxicity once detected.

“It’s important that as the time goes by that people are aware that depression, OCD, bipolar, poor performance in school, anger and rage, are classic symptoms of mold toxicity," Holler said. “Don’t judge one another and don’t just assume that you need a psych med. If you’re feeling those symptoms, this can be mold and mold is treatable. You can go back to your old self and if you’re having lots of symptoms in lots of different organ systems and you’ve had a water damaged building, you really should get that urine test and see if the mold’s stuck in you because we can get it out.”

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