Take Our Questionnaire To See If Your Symptoms Are Caused By Toxic Mold

Mark Volmer
Jun 21 · 7 min read

Did you know: A previous exposure to toxic mold could be the hidden cause of all your symptoms!

Yes, even the strangest of symptoms — like those found in fibromyalgia and/or chronic fatigue syndrome — could be caused by toxic mold. What makes mold all the more challenging to diagnose is that the strange symptoms it creates could be caused by a mold exposure that occurred 10 (or more) years ago!

You don’t have to currently be living in a water-damaged or moldy home in order to experience the effects of toxic mold.

Below, I’ve written up an initial screening form used to help guide the diagnosis of toxic mold. This is the same questionnaire I use at our clinic. It was devised by Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker — the world’s leading expert on mold toxicity, mold illness, and a strange condition known as Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS).

When you’re moving through the below questionnaire, please ensure you move through the steps I outline in this post in numerical order. Don’t skip ahead to other sections until you’ve completed the prior. Now, let’s find out if toxic mold is the root cause of all your symptoms!

Step 1: Exposure questionnaire

Please answer each of the below questions.

  • 1) Do you have exposure to the interior of a water-damaged building and/or microbial growth? If yes, please answer the next three (3) questions:
  • Yes
  • No
  • Maybe
  • 1a) Do you have samples/evidence of spore or genus and species of fungus (air test, ERMI test, etc.)
  • Yes
  • No
  • Maybe
  • 1b) Is there visible microbial growth (mold)?
  • Yes
  • No
  • Maybe
  • 1c) Is there a presence of musty smells?
  • Yes
  • No
  • Maybe
  • 2) Do you remember a tick bite occurring before your illness began? If yes, please answer the next two (2) questions:
  • Yes
  • No
  • Maybe
  • 2a) Did you have an unexplained rash after the bite?
  • Yes
  • No
  • Maybe
  • 2b) Did you experience flu-like illness after the bite?
  • Yes
  • No
  • Maybe
  • 3) Have you had a brown recluse or another poisonous spider bite? If yes, please answer the next 1 question
  • Yes
  • No
  • Maybe
  • 3a) Did you experience flu-like illness after the bite?
  • Yes
  • No
  • Maybe
  • 4) Did you become ill after eating fish?
  • Yes
  • No
  • Maybe
  • 5) Did you become ill after exposure to a body of fresh water?
  • Yes
  • No
  • Maybe
  • 6) Did you become ill after exposure to the ocean during a “red tide” or other algae bloom?
  • Yes
  • No
  • Maybe
  • 7) Did you become ill after exposure to an estuary fish kill?
  • Yes
  • No
  • Maybe
  • 8) Did you become ill after exposure to a closed shellfish bed area?
  • Yes
  • No
  • Maybe

This first section is what is known as an environmental exposure survey. Its purpose is to determine whether (or not) you have ever been exposed to an environment that would predispose you to develop mold toxicity.

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, please mark this section as positive. If you answered no to all of the above questions, please mark this section as negative. If you answered maybe to any of the above questions, please mark this section as indeterminate.

Step 1 results:

Positive
Negative
Indeterminate

Step 2: Symptom cluster questionnaire

Step two involves the answering of thirteen different symptom groupings/clusters. Toxic mold creates a group of symptoms that are rather unique. This second section is used to see if the symptoms you’re experiencing fit under the umbrella of toxic mold.

You’ll notice that each question lists multiple symptoms. You do not need to have every listed symptom for each question. If you have one (or more) of any of the symptoms listed for each question, please mark that section as positive. If you do not experience any of the symptoms listed for a given question, please mark that section as negative.

1. Fatigue/weakness

Positive
Negative

2. Headache

Positive
Negative

3. Aches, cramps

Positive
Negative

4. Unusual sharp, clawing, electrical or ice-pick pain(s)

Positive
Negative

5. Light sensitivity; red eyes; blurring, tearing

Positive
Negative

6. SOB; cough; sinus issues

Positive
Negative

7. Abdominal pain, secretory diarrhea; bile acid reflux

Positive
Negative

8. Joint pain; Morning stiffness

Positive
Negative

9. Issues w. memory, concentration, word assimilation, confusion, disorientation

Positive
Negative

10. Mood swings; appetite swings; sweats; challenges with temperature regulation (hypothalamic functioning)

Positive
Negative

11. Thirst; frequent urination; static shocks

Positive
Negative

12. Numbness, tingling, taste abnormalities

Positive
Negative

13. Vertigo; tremors; skin sensitivity to light touch

Positive
Negative

Please add up your number of positive scores for the above thirteen questions. If you have eight or more positives, score step 2 as positive. If you have seven or fewer positives, please score step two as negative.

Step 2 results:

Positive
Negative

Step 3: VCS testing

If your results for both step one and step two were negative, you do not need to complete this third step. Your symptoms are likely not caused by toxic mold.

If either step one, step two, or, both steps one and two were scored as positive, please continue with this third step.

VCS stands for visual contrast sensitivity. This is not a vision test. It does not test your eyes. It tests your brain. This test measures your brain’s ability to detect different contrasts. Contrast is your ability to discern black from white, and also between different shades of gray.

Toxic mold causes a decrease in blood flow to your optic nerve. This phenomenon is called peripheral hypoprofusion. When mold toxicity is affecting your optic nerve, you will be challenged to notice changes in contrast.

Please note that this test cannot be used to diagnose toxic mold. This test is used as a screening tool. Though it is an incredibly sensitive/accurate screening tool. VCS testing is 92% accurate. Meaning that 92% of those who failed the VCS test had mold toxicity or Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome. (1, 2)

To perform a VCS test, please visit Dr. Shoemaker’s website. The cost to perform this test is $15usd. You can also do the test for free at this website.

Are YOUR symptoms caused by toxic mold?

Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS) is different than mold illness or mold toxicity. These two conditions are most certainly related — both are caused by mold. But there are a number of differences that need to be explained. Please check out this post to learn the differences between CIRS and toxic mold.

The general difference between CIRS and mold toxicity has to do with exposure and genetics. Mold toxicity is caused by a current exposure to mold — it happens when you’re living or working in a water-damaged building. CIRS occurs in a genetically susceptible individual who has had exposure to mold. This exposure could be ongoing or have occurred in the past.

Utilize the first two sections of this questionnaire to determine if you’ve been exposed to mold and if the symptoms you’re experiencing align with toxic mold. But do keep in mind that mold is sneaky. More often than not, mold is not in areas you can see with your eyes. It’s often hiding behind walls, in crawl spaces, or heating/ventilation (HVAC) ducts. The only reliable way to know if your home is free from mold is via specialized testing methods.

If you test positive in all three sections (exposure, symptoms, and VCS) there is a 95% likelihood of you having mold toxicity and/or chronic inflammatory response syndrome. (3)

I want to be crystal clear that the above 3 steps are used as a screening tool; not a means of diagnosis. Even if you test positive in all three of the above sections, it does not confirm a diagnosis of mold toxicity. Instead, it illustrates that there is a high likelihood that mold is causing your symptoms. Further laboratory testing will be required to accurately assess and diagnose your condition.

If you do not test positive in the above three sections, the odds of you suffering from mold toxicity or Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome are lower. It does not rule it out completely. But it does warrant an investigation into your health issues outside the context of mold/mycotoxin illness.

What to do if you’re suffering from toxic mold

If you do test positive in the above three sections, you’ll need to find a mold-literate practitioner to confirm a diagnosis of CIRS and/or mold toxicity. Do not expect your family physician to be well versed in toxic mold. Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker has a list of Shoemaker trained practitioners on his website.

The gold standard for dealing with mold toxicity or CIRS is training by Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker. I’m confident there are other non-Shoemaker trained practitioners who are well versed in mold toxicity. But at the time of this writing, I do not have a comprehensive list of who they are nor where they practice.

Many mold-literate practitioners will be able to work with you via skype/zoom consults. You do not have to be living in their place of residence in order to become a patient under their care.

If you suspect you have mold toxicity or chronic inflammatory response syndrome after completing the three steps outlined in this post, your first step needs to be removing yourself from the source of mold. Have your home and workplace tested to ensure there is no mold growth. Then, look to find a Shoemaker-trained practitioner to help guide you out of mold toxicity symptoms and back to health.

Want to know more than your doctor about fatigue or mold?
Click here for our latest writings.

Now, I want to hear from you!

What did this 3-step screening reveal regarding your health?

Share your answers in the comments section below!

Do you need help improving your fatigue?


Originally published at Fatigue to Flourish.

Mark Volmer

Written by

I help those with fatigue naturally reclaim their energy and share their gifts with the world.

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