Meet the Patient: Case Study on Treating Toxic Mold Illness via Remote Visits

Meet the Patient is a series here on the BioDesign Wellness Center blog that showcases actual patients we have treated over the years or are currently treating. It goes without saying that we do not reveal the identity of these patients, changing their names and certain details about their case in order to insure their privacy.

Our reason for us asking our patients to allow us to share their stories — again anonymously — is for the benefit of the reader who is or knows someone struggling with a similar health condition. It’s for those who perhaps have not received an accurate diagnosis or effective medical treatment. It’s for those who might be giving up hope of ever feeling healthy, energetic, and happy again.


Our objective with these case studies is to restore a belief that optimal health and fitness can be achieved, even for those who are chronically ill and may have no clear explanation of the underlying cause of their pain or dysfunction.

Up to the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, our Meet the Patient posts spotlighted patients we have seen in our Tampa functional medicine clinic. However, like many healthcare clinics, we have severely curtailed office visits to help prevent spread of the virus. As a result, we now conduct many of our patient appointments remotely via phone or videoconferencing software such as Skype, Zoom, or the telemed feature offered through our electronic health records platform, MPN.

Today’s Meet the Patient post is unique in that it highlights the successful treatment of a patient who has never stepped foot in our offices.

Meet AJ, a 63-Year-Old Patient

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, a 63-year-old retired woman, whom we will call AJ, was referred to our office by her daughter, who was concerned about her mom’s health. They both live in south Florida, and the daughter was already a patient of ours.

When she called us, AJ said she was certain that it was mold from her home that caused her illness. During our online telemedicine consultation, she described more than 30 symptoms that arose over a period of several years. Her symptoms included shortness of breath, constant stomach upset, anxiety, loss of memory, tingling in her body, extreme exhaustion, and weakness, to name a few. She was experiencing several of the more than 40 symptoms that can be ascribed to mold, including the following: continue reading

Toxic Mold Illness in the News and How to Treat It

While COVID-19 has dominated the news cycle for the last 60 days or so, reading between the lines reveals a host of other health issues that we should be aware of, including mold-related illness.

From a strictly news perspective, here’s what’s happening across the nation with respect to some of the dangers mold presents in our daily lives:

  • In Seattle, Wash., an award-winning children’s hospital that waged a years-long battle to contain an Aspergillus mold outbreak, was recently sued by the family of a seven-month-old boy who is fending off a mold infection after open-heart surgery. As reported by The Seattle Times last week (see: Mold found in baby’s heart after surgery; family suing Seattle Children’s hospital), the hospital closed its operating rooms in March of 2019, after Aspergillus infections were attributed to gaps in the walls of operating rooms and in the array of air filters that serve them.
  • In Montague Township, N.J., where about 250 children attend Montague Township schools, parents complained to the school board about visible mold in one of the district’s schools. Local citizens are contending with a school superintendent who they claim is dismissing reports of mold as a “running narrative without any evidence” (see: State: Montague School mold issue still an active investigation).
  • In Brooklyn, N.Y., home to the second-largest public housing development in New York City — Red Hook Houses — the New York City Housing Authority and local courts have been bombarded with thousands of complaints and hundreds of lawsuits regarding mold at the 6,000-resident facility. As reported by UnDark (see: In Public Housing, a Battle Against Mold and Rising Seas), research published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology shows strong associations between early exposure to mold and the development of childhood asthma. That matters because in New York City, public housing developments like Red Hook are home to a disproportionately high reported rate of asthma compared to rates in more affluent neighborhoods.
  • Closer to home, more than 100 employees of the Broward Sheriff’s Office recently filed workers’ compensation claims after mold was found in their offices at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. According to the South Florida Sun Sentinel (see: Mold chases cops from offices at Fort Lauderdale airport), the Sheriff’s Office ordered an analysis of the air in the offices in question, and the results revealed significantly elevated mold spores in the air. Meanwhile, in a tiny village outside of Tallahassee, four whistleblower complaints have been filed against Sunland Center, a state-managed institution for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities. According to reporting by News Service of Florida (see: State tests disabled residents amid mold problems), a 145-page report revealed major mold problems throughout Sunland’s 16-building campus in Marianna, just south of the Florida-Alabama border.

Also in Florida — and very close to our Tampa functional medicine clinic — is the ongoing saga of Harbor Bay at MacDill Air Force Base. There, as we previously reported (see: Update on Toxic Mold in Tampa and Responding to the Mold Outbreak at VA Bay Pines Center), a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court’s Middle District of Florida accuses the six companies operating the privately run housing of ignoring complaints about mold, conducting shoddy remediation work, and then not revealing mold test results to those who live in the houses in question. The lawsuit, filed in December of 2019 by five service members and their families, has yet to be resolved. But as a result of pressure by military families around the nation, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which was passed in mid-December, establishes a bill of rights for military families living in base housing and ensures that contractors are held accountable for housing issues that are not addressed quickly, such as those experienced by residents of Harbor Bay at MacDill.

Toxic Mold Diagnosis

If you suspect that you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of exposure to toxic mold or a mystery illness that other doctors have been unable to diagnose, we here at BioDesign Wellness Center may be able to help. Our approach begins with a process of discovery — in order to determine if your symptoms match those of mold illness. We have you complete a symptom checklist survey, which one of our doctors’ reviews with you during your initial visit.

For people who are susceptible, exposure to mold can trigger a continue reading

Urine and Testing for Mold Toxins

While there’s little doubt about what takes priority right now — the virus named “SARS-CoV-2” and the disease it causes named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) — there are other threats to your health to be aware of and diligent about. Here in Tampa, it’s just a fact of life that mold is very common in our homes and commercial buildings. And as many of us know by now, exposure to moldy and damp environments can cause a variety of health problems.

Urine Mold Testing Graphic

If you’ve researched toxic mold, you know it can cause a wide variety of symptoms, including the following:

  • Abdominal pain, diarrhea, and/or bloating
  • Chronic burning in the throat and nasal passages
  • Coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath
  • Depression and/or anxiety
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Disorientation and/or dizziness
  • Eye irritation or tearing of the eyes
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Headache and/or light sensitivity
  • Hearing loss
  • Heightened sensitivity to chemicals and foods
  • Increased urinary frequency or increased thirst
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Loss of balance
  • Morning stiffness and/or joint pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Poor memory, difficulty finding words
  • Skin rashes
  • Sleep problems
  • Slower reaction time
  • Static shocks or metallic taste in the mouth
  • Unusual skin sensations, tingling, and numbness
  • Vision changes

Unfortunately, these same symptoms can be attributed to a host of underlying health conditions and are commonly used to support vague, unhelpful diagnoses, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and depression — what we refer to as “waste-basket diagnoses.”

Taking a Test-First Approach

At BioDesign Wellness Center, we take a continue reading

Update on Toxic Mold in Tampa

Last year, we wrote about mold outbreaks at the MacDill Air Force Base and the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center. (See our previous post Responding to the Mold Outbreak at VA Bay Pines Center.”) Just this month, Stars and Stripes and the Tampa Bay Times reported that five military families have since filed a federal class-action lawsuit “against owners and managers of private housing at MacDill Air Force Base, alleging years of negligence in persistent problems with mold throughout the buildings.”

The lawsuit claims that “the Michaels Organization, the private company responsible for managing the on-base housing at MacDill, knew the houses there had mold and did not protect the health and safety of service members and their families.”

(Image © Florida Middle District Court)

In one case, Jason Genrich, a chief warrant officer in the Army, developed chest pains, mood swings, dizziness, and fatigue within five months of moving into military housing at MacDill. Genrich visited four specialists before a neurologist diagnosed him as having “sick building syndrome.” For the first time in his 17-year military career, Genrich was placed on medical deferment from physical activity.

In another unit, Air Force Staff Sargent Gary Elbron and his family had an air conditioner that was leaking water into the inside of their home. The family reported the problem to the building management company numerous times, but the air conditioner was never repaired. Water seeped under the linoleum flooring (see image above) leading to mold growth in the subflooring and health problems for the family.

Mold growth in many of the homes was linked to  continue reading

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